High rise imploded to rave reviews, according to plan

By Chuck Weber

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX)-Sunday was implosion day in West Palm Beach-- and it happened fast, just like the contractor said it would.

The blasts started shortly after 9:00 a.m., and reverberated through the neighborhood just south of the downtown. Only about eight seconds after the first explosions, the 1515 Tower began to topple. It was completely down, and reduced to a 40-foot high pile of rubble, all in a span of 15 seconds.

Cheers and applause erupted from the thousands who turned out to watch. "Probably one of the best seven seconds of my life," exclaimed 17-year old Michelle Hook, of Hobe Sound, who came with her father to watch.

"Phenomenal," declared Terri Shapleigh, manager of Norton Park Place, the condo building just more than 100 feet to the north of 1515. "On the money, just as promised."

Since Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne destroyed 1515, back in 2004, the former condo sat decaying, and was an eyesore for the neighborhood. "This was long overdue," said Shapleigh, "but it was worth the wait seeing what we have today."

Shapleigh said a preliminary inspection revealed no damage to her building. The synthetic fabric hanging from the roof apparently deflected debris and caught dust, as designed.

"Overall, I would definitely give it a 10," assessed Lisa Kelly, one half of the husband-wife owners of the Idaho implosion company Advanced Explosives Demolition. She says the building fell almost entirely in place-- exactly as planned.

"I'm telling you right now," said Kelly, "every single thing, the pile size, it's better than textbook." While small rocks of rubble sprayed more than a block away, Kelly said this is expected.

The only thing that went amiss-- the explosions started four to five minutes late. That's because moments before the scheduled 9:00 a.m. start, the implosion crew found a man hiding on a property next door to 1515 Tower. A city spokesman said the man was apparently trying to take pictures. He was removed from the area, but not arrested.

Crews will spend the next three months hauling away the debris.