More than a month after its uppermost floors collapsed, killing three workers and injuring 30, the Hard Rock Hotel remains a blight and a menace, its crumbled concrete walls a tomb to two victims whose bodies remain inside. Rampart Street is still blocked to through traffic; a crane hangs haphazardly over Canal Street; and several blocks remain under evacuation orders.
The dangerous, tragic situation continues to affect New Orleans’ most densely populated tourist destination, but yesterday, the city announced some progress. Kolb Grading LLC and its affiliate Dem/Tech will implode the building “no earlier than mid-January 2020.”
Yes, it’s a vague estimate, but the city’s press release promises “the demolition timeline will be more precisely communicated in the weeks to come.” Rampart Street from Iberville to Canal streets and Iberville Street from Burgundy to North Rampart streets remain closed through the implosion.
Jose Ponce Arreola, Anthony Magrette, and Quinnyon J. Wimberly died in the collapse. Wimberly and Arreola’s bodies will be recovered after the implosion. According to New Orleans Fire Chief Tim McConnell, the demolition will take place over nine weeks, and cleanup will last three months. That means cleanup will take place during the height of tourist season, when the French Quarter hosts crowds drawn by the Bayou Classic, Sugar Bowl, and Mardi Gras parades.
The neighboring Saenger Theatre will resume its program in mid-December, when a protective pedestrian walkway is erected.
Residents and businesses affected by the collapse may visit https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela, call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email email@example.com for information about disaster assistance.