It is only a matter of months now until the New Haven Veterans Memorial Coliseum disappears completely. Within the next two or three weeks, the city will choose a bid for the Coliseum’s demolition, said Tony Bialecki, deputy director of economic development for the city of New Haven.
“Within 10 or 11 months, the site should be completely leveled,” he said.
A few weeks ago an ad-hoc demolition committee narrowed its choices to three applicants from an original pool of seven. Stamford Wrecking Company and Manaford Brothers, with bids of $5.2 million and $5.9 million, respectively, remain under consideration. Both contractors have been interviewed, but the committee is going to review their proposals and meet with each company a second time to go over plans before a final decision is reached, Bialecki said. Brandenburg Industrial Services, with the lowest bid in the applicant pool at $4.2 million, has pulled out of the bidding process.
Dave Carlson, principal of Spiegel, Zamecnik and Shah, the engineering firm overseeing the operation, said there are several criteria that the engineering firm must address in considering the contractors’ plans; some of these include price, the technical aspects of taking down the structure, and the efficient disposal of waste. He also said that choosing the contractor is only one of several steps in the process, including securing the necessary funding.
“Once we choose someone to do the work, they have a lot of work to do,” Carlson said.
Both contractors plan on hiring the same subcontractor, Control Demolition, Inc., for the project. The arena portion of the Coliseum, located in the middle of the structure, will be demolished using cranes, bulldozers and other machinery. The parking garage, which sits on piers around the outer portion of the Coliseum, will be imploded. Over a period of several months, the remaining pile of rubble will be separated out particularly for steel and other hazardous material.
Carlson said there should not be many environmental-related problems with the demolition, because the building was primarily made out of steel and concrete, with little finished material that might contain asbestos or other chemicals. In terms of the technical aspect of the job, he said it would be a change of pace for the engineering firm.
“It will be an interesting project because it is not a very standard building,” he said.
Edward Piazza, of the Coliseum Authority, said the governor gave money to demolish the Coliseum and hopes that it will be a worthwhile effort.
“He just does not want the Coliseum to be demolished and sit there for 10 years,” Piazza said.
Piazza said he hoped the Coliseum would not have the same fate as other buildings in New Haven. The Chapel Square Mall during the ’60s, for example, was demolished and left without any development for a long period of time.
Potential plans for the new space include Gateway Community Technical College, Long Wharf Theatre, a conference center, a hotel, retail space, residential units, parking, and a community park.
The Coliseum closed Aug. 28, 2002, primarily for financial reasons. Although several groups have worked to save the building over the past year, the city has finalized its decision.