DETROIT (AP) — The North Park Plaza building stood for 42 years in Southfield. It took a matter of seconds for the 17-story vacant structure to fall upon itself into a mound of dust and rubble.
Not only did Oakland Community College raze the blighted building just north of Detroit, the school raised $12,000 for student scholarships and programs by auctioning the opportunity to start the implosion to the highest bidder.
The winning bid was $8,000, but the person who made it decided to remain anonymous so hitting the lever to set off the demolition fell to Oakland Community College graduate Andrea Wilson.
“It’s something I’ll be able to tell my kids one day, that I helped blow up a building,” said Wilson, 26, of Waterford. “It was exhilarating. It happened real fast. There were a series of explosions and then it all went down all at once.”
An implosion was preferred as it was faster and minimized the dust and debris better than a mechanical demolition, according to the school.
The college bought the 340,000-square-foot building earlier this year and said it has no immediate plans for the land.
School Chancellor Timothy Meyer was initially offered the opportunity to hit the lever. Instead, it was placed on eBay where the auction started Dec. 4.
“This is something that only happens once in a lifetime,” Meyer said. “The OCC Foundation was started in 1979 and was established to support scholarships for our students. And that is what this implosion is all about, the support of our students.”
Wilson, a graduate of the school’s criminal justice program, said she was “honored to have been chosen and grateful for the donor who will fund a scholarship for someone.”
“Since I am a scholarship recipient myself, it felt really good to be able to help with this project,” she said.
About 400 people were on hand to watch the building fall.
“The best part was when the top two stories fell,” 10-year-old Daniel Fortino told The Detroit News. “How did they rig it so nothing else falls around it?”
Daniel was joined by his friend Nick Bradburn, who’s also 10.
“I thought it was gonna be one big bang and then the bottom would fall,” Nick said.