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Demolition Can't Clear Ground Fast Enough for LumberYard Businesses

As construction crews broke through the vacant properties on the land that will house the Ingerman-built apartment building, business owners on Powell Lane watched with interest.

Although he knew the work was imminent, Verde Salon owner Kevin Gatto was taken aback when the kick-off to Phase III of the LumberYard construction began.

At least he had a front-row seat to the show.

"I had no idea it was happening today," Gatto said. "I don’t know if they just jumped on the fact that it was nice weather today. I’ve been so focused that I really wasn’t paying much attention.

"We looked up and we saw the backhoe start to knock it down, and we all stopped and started staring at it," he said.

As the first blows were struck Thursday, Gatto and his staff all stopped working and watched, together with customers. An odd catharsis came over him.

"We all wanted to see if we could pay ten bucks and take a turn at [smashing] it to vent some of our aggressions on the building," Gatto said. "That empty lot’s been driving me crazy for five years."

Crews kept the dust to a minimum with spray from a hose, he said, and the construction plan shouldn't interfere with foot and car traffic on the street. In fact, the sooner the residents are able to move into the property, the better for his business, be they renters or owners. 

"For me, it’s five years waiting," Gatto said. "I’m super-excited to see the progress, the new building going up and new people coming in." 

Aenigma owner Lynda Kane, who sits on the board of the LumberYard condo association, said she's "thrilled that something's going on.

"I bought my building, so I own it," Kane said. "I have a vested interest in it to make sure that things are okay. Even though I don’t sleep here, I live here more than I do my home."

To Kane, the hustle of construction equipment is a sign that the job is edging closer to wrapping up, which she said is good news.

"When this is completed, the whole thing will be what it was supposed to be five years ago," she said. "Whatever comes in, it will be great."

Kane said that despite the housing crash and the fact that the lot has laid bare while setting up the terms of the latest arrangement with the Ingerman Group, she is confident that the project will continue to draw shoppers, diners, and guests to Collingswood.

"It really keeps Collingswood on the map, and it’s what makes Collingswood what it is," she said.

Future Old Angry Italian Guy February 15, 2013 at 11:55 AM
Next, Deval?
Collingswoodnative February 15, 2013 at 01:17 PM
How many Collingswood PD officers did it take to demolish the building? Looks like two in the first photo but sure more were on traffic and crowd control
Tracy February 15, 2013 at 01:43 PM
Coordination with local police and FD is a standard obligation when construction (or demolition in this case) is so close to the public right of way. Generally, the costs to post officers in this type of situation is borne by the construction company (it's way cheaper to pay the police to be there than to pay litigation costs if they weren't). As George Carlin once qouted the NYPD..."move along little Johnny, nothin" to see here, move along."
Collingswoodnative February 15, 2013 at 11:27 PM
So it doesn't cost us anything to have police at demolition, road work locations, Public Service worksites etc. because they're paid for by the contractor not the taxpayers. The contractor adds the price to the contract, PSE&G adds the cost to the utility bill. It's welfare for the PD. Public Works employees from Collingswood work in the middle of the street with out so much as a road sign for protection.
Peeches February 17, 2013 at 02:50 AM
Wow, this is just like everything in Collingswood. Just maybe some in the town would like to have taken one last look. No, but of course everything is done undercover. Govenment is so............... you can fill in the blank. Happy for you folks that have been looking at the dirt for so long.

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