A Naperville "eyesore" is no more.
The building at 420-440 S. Washington St., long dormant and deemed an eyesore, was demolished beginning at 7 a.m. Saturday.
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On land now owned by North Central College, the building was razed to make way for open space on the east side of Washington Street between the DuPage River and a Burger King.
"We're anticipating it will eventually become a park," said Paul Loscheider, North Central's vice president for business affairs.
A crowd of about 30 people lined a fence around the work zone as employees of demolition firm Environmental Cleansing Corporation began dismantling the building.
North Central officials including Loscheider and President Troy Hammond were among those observing the first steps of the demolition Saturday morning, commenting on the beauty of the sight as they watched the deteriorating building meet its end.
There was no wrecking ball Saturday, just a large, yellow excavator that picked apart the building, separating its components into piles. Metal posts that held up the building's 1960s-style awning were the first to go.
The city hired Environmental Cleansing to complete demolition before fully turning the property over to the college, which bought it from a bank. Loscheider said the company was separating building materials so they could be taken to different facilities for recycling.
"They will be surgically dismantling it as opposed to knocking it down," he said. "They will recycle most everything in the building."
The building was to be substantially removed by the end of Saturday with site cleanup to be completed within the next few days. Remediation of possible contaminants left over from the property's days as a gas station, car dealership and repair shop, and Laundromat also must take place before park construction can start.
Located across the DuPage River from Fredenhagen Park and near North Central College's football stadium and new entrance gateway, Loscheider said a park will fit the character of the area much better than a vacant building.
"It opens the view to the campus and our new entry plaza by the Moser bridge," he said. "It's just going to open up a whole lot of nice things -- not the eyesore that (was) there."