Franklin County

Dates set for Frankfort Convention Center, Capital Plaza Tower demolition

File photo of the Capital Plaza Tower in downtown Frankfort, Ky.
File photo of the Capital Plaza Tower in downtown Frankfort, Ky. Photo provided by state of Kentucky.

Prepare to say last goodbyes to the Frankfort Convention Center.

Starting in the middle of next week, workers will begin tearing down the 46-year-old structure, said Andy Roberts, director of marketing for demolition contractor Renascent. Roberts estimates the entire process will take about six weeks for the Frankfort Convention Center, which has a total of 102,000 square feet spread over two levels.

Workers will move on to the Capital Plaza Tower one month after the convention center. The tower is slated for implosion on Sunday, Feb. 25. Ceremonies to mark the occasion are still being planned.

The convention center opened in late 1971. It hosted an estimated 111,000 visitors for 64 different gatherings last year, according to data from the tourist commission. Its final event — a gathering of Jehovah’s Witnesses — was held on Oct. 29.

The Capital Plaza Tower opened in 1972.

With its concrete walls and its steel roof at an exterior height of 44.5 feet, the convention center will likely be demolished using excavators with extended booms, says Herb Duane, a demolition consultant. Duane says such excavators can typically tear through 4,000 to 5,000 square feet a day.

Dynamite will be in order for the 28-story, 330-foot Capital Plaza Tower. That’s because it’s typically more cost effective for contractors to implode structures over 100 feet tall, says Duane.

Lexington developer-contractor team CRM/D.W. Wilburn began work on Capital Plaza redevelopment last month when they won a so-called “built-to-suit” contract from the state. In a built-to-suit project, a private firm agrees to design, build, finance and operate a building in exchange for annual lease payments until the state buys back the property.

In exchange for leveling the area and building a replacement state office building, CRM/D.W. Wilburn will receive annual lease payments from the state of $7.3 million for 30 years starting in 2020. The team constructed and operates the state office building at 300 Sower Blvd. under a similar agreement.