Blasts drop Schwind Building in cloud of dust

First, a crackle like small fireworks as charges detonated, then a series of deep explosions and flashes of lightning inside the Schwind Building on Saturday morning as it shuddered, twisted, and collapsed nearly straight down.

The 7:15 a.m. building implosion using 50 pounds of dynamite was the end to months of planning, but it will ultimately lead to student housing on the footprint of what was once the Dayton Daily News.

When the $22 million student housing is completed in fall 2014, the historic 1908 bank-like building at the corner of Fourth and Ludlow streets will be all that remains on the site of the newspaper business begun by two-time Ohio Gov. James M. Cox. Newspaper offices now reside at 1611 S. Main St.

Only the 1908 building, which for a century was the workplace for generations of newspaper employees, will be preserved and renovated as part of the new complex.

The 12-story Schwind Building, 27 S. Ludlow, had a legacy of its own. Built in 1913 and home to the Moraine Embassy restaurant, it was long a favorite tavern and eatery for newspaper employees, public officials and downtown workers.

The pressrooms to the west and the large 1950s newspaper office building are also being demolished. In their place will be the Student Suites’ five-story, U-shaped, 200-apartment building wrapped around a courtyard. A 93-space parking lot will remain. Demolition should be complete by December.

On Monday morning, workers will be at the site with heavy equipment to continue the work, hauling away debris and beginning demolition of the newer portions of the former Dayton Daily News building.

“It went really well,” Scott Wells, senior project manager for contractor Steve Rauch Inc. said after the implosion. “We didn’t have nearly the debris in the street we thought we would. I was happy with how it came down.”

Wells said the only unplanned result was minor damage to a stairwell at the Grand Hotel, which should be easily fixed. The Dayton Daily News building appeared nearly untouched, with some debris from the implosion landing on the roof. A large cloud of white dust rose from the implosion and grew to perhaps 20 stories, but cleared quickly.

The last major implosion downtown occurred in November 1999 when the former Rike’s department store was brought down to make room for the Schuster Performing Arts Center.

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