HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Monday evening, crews demolished the former Hale Brothers Furniture building to make way for an incoming boutique hotel on Jefferson Street in Huntsville.
Jefferson Street closed to traffic just before 4:30 p.m. so equipment could set up and get started.
The Curio by Hilton hotel called 106 Jefferson will soon be built at that address: 106 Jefferson Street. City leaders okayed the project last summer saying at the time that it would feature 117 rooms, a rooftop bar, a full-service restaurant, and a meeting space.
The building has been vacant for some time and construction on the hotel is set to begin in March.
Developers said Monday that its expected completion date is the second quarter of 2020.
David Johnston remembers Hale Brothers Furniture and those who owned it: "You came to town to buy your furniture and that was just the way it was," he stated.
But he was among those watching as it was time to say goodbye. Machines gobbled up the facade and knocked way the building until it became a pile of rubble.
"It's something to see!" Johnston said. "This thing is just incredible, what it's doing!"
But Johnston wasn't originally sold on demolition there. He owns the Downtown Storage building where the Clinton Row project is now.
"I participated in trying to save the buildings to start with. The city wanted to. The owners wanted to," Johnston said. "I went through the building with some of my friends, investors, to try to see if we could recycle them. I went all over the buildings on the inside. You could see the stories, you could see the history of the buildings almost in the bones."
But he watched the buildings stay vacant and soon changed his mind. Now, he is excited to see the transformation at 106 Jefferson Street.
"Thank goodness they're tearing them down. Of course, we will have something that's really worthy of the next 75 years," he said.
He believes the Hilton will only boost neighboring businesses, like those in his building.
"This new hotel will just be incredible for us," he said. "People staying in hotels, walking down the streets. The florist on my corner down here - they'll buy flowers. This is just part of becoming a bigger city and a downtown active city again. This hotel will be a big part of it."