York Mayor John Brenner climbed into a piece of construction equipment and, with assistance from the demolition crew, took a chunk out of what was the plant's grain-loading facility. The demolition crew was expected to begin its work later.
The Ohio Blenders facility, which has been tangled in eminent domain for a few years, is the last element on the Northwest Triangle site to be torn down to make way for residential development. The mixed-use project is aimed at bringing commercial and residential uses to the area, bordered roughly by George and Philadelphia streets and the Codorus Creek.
Rob Kinsley, who spoke on behalf of the Kinsley-Enterprise development team, said the importance of starting the final demolition shouldn't be underestimated.
"These projects have untold hurdles that stand before them before they can become a reality," he said. Tearing down Ohio Blenders will allow people to look from one end of the development area to the other and better see the vision developers have for the site, he said.
Brenner said the project has come about in a "short time span," despite talk to the contrary.
"Some people think this project has been going on since the Civil War," he said, adding that it was first envisioned in 2002 and 2003.
It's come a long way, he said, and should not be judged by how long it takes, but by "the quality of our plans."
"We would do well to recognize that good things do take time," he said.
David Cross, chairman of the Redevelopment Authority, said the project will stand with others, such as Sovereign Bank Stadium and the Susquehanna Commerce Center, that have contributed to York's revitalization.
The project, on one of the last pieces of land that can be developed in York, will bring jobs, residents, amenities and green space, he said.
Board of view hearings to determine the final price the city will pay for Ohio Blenders are scheduled for today and Wednesday.
Cross said officials are hoping the decision will be close to city appraisals, which have valued the land at less than $1 million. An Ohio Blenders appraisal valued it at about $3 million.
"I can't remember a time when money's been tighter," Cross said.
Kevin Schreiber, the city's economic development director and Redevelopment Authority coordinator, said demolition, which includes removing a concrete level below ground and railroad tracks, will likely take four to six weeks and will be followed by environmental cleanup of the land.
Ohio Blenders, an alfalfa processing company, has relocated to Cumberland County, he said.
The company doing the demolition work plans to reuse the plant's big blue grain silos, either for scrap or by reselling them, Schreiber said.
Weaver Auto Body and B&C Fasteners: Demolition and environmental cleanup were performed at these former sites on North Beaver Street.
Keystone ColorWorks: Environmental work was completed at the building, which is meant for residential use.
The Smyser Royer building: Rehabilitation of the building, chosen by YorkCounts as the location for its new charter school, is under way.
The Thomas Somerville building: Work on this building, which is meant for commercial use, will likely be next, said David Cross, Redevelopment Authority chairman.
Overall: Replacement of the sanitary sewer line in the area and streetscape improvements are also planned.