by Michael R. Allen
On Monday, the Preservation Board will consider an application by Procter & Gamble to demolish 16 buildings at its landmark north riverfront plant (official address, 169 East Grand Avenue). There are no immediate plans for reuse of the cleared land, but Procter & Gamble claims that it needs a “shovel ready” site for expansion. (“Shovel ready” gets thrown about a lot, but not often is the phrase applied to creating vacant land.) Cultural Resources Office Director Betsy Bradley is recommending approval of the application; read more in the meeting agenda.
The demolition plan does not affect the southernmost building in the long, multi-height row of buildings that give the plant its recognizable form on the city skyline. This portion, which meets Grand Avenue at the sidewalk, is in use as offices and will stay in use. The rest of the buildings are already being gutted, with many windows removed. Even earlier today demolition workers were loading scrap metal dumpsters. According to Bradley’s report, the plant was built between 1903 and 1924 as the William Waltke & Company Soap Factory.
UPDATE: The Preservation Board approved all of the demolition application by a vote of 3-2. Members David Visintainer and Anthony Robinson voted “aye,” and members Mike Killeen and Melanie Fathman voted “nay.” Chairman Richard Callow cast a tie-breaking “aye” vote.