FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A beachfront hotel came down quickly and without warning Wednesday, but the demolition of the old Howard Johnson hotel gave drivers along State Road A1A and spectators quite a scare.
Dianne Bolduc said she was shaking after watching the demolition.
"It was incredible, but it happened so fast," she said. "(There was) no announcement and they didn't stop traffic or anything."
Just how close was the old hotel to A1A? Not more than 75 feet, Local 6 News sister station WPLG-TV reported.
Stiles Construction, which was responsible for the demolition, closed the pedestrian sidewalk adjacent to the former building, but not the roadway.
Even the developer of the future Paramount Fort Lauderdale Beach was surprised how quickly the hotel crumbled.
"Yeah, it actually went pretty fast," One World Properties owner Peggy Fucci said. "We were expecting it to last a little bit longer."
The old hotel was initially supposed to be imploded this Sunday, but instead it was pulled down by a crane with cables attached to certain key support beams.
"The team meticulously planned the process to ensure the full safety of the surrounding area, and designed the demolition so that the building would fall safely away from A1A," Stiles Construction said in a statement.
A spokesman for the city of Fort Lauderdale said once the decision was made "to do the demolition in a conventional manner, we no longer felt it was necessary to close A1A."