Demolition began this week on three old medical office buildings behind the old Carson-Tahoe Hospital, as a huge Caterpillar backhoe/shovel ripped into the front wall of the Gilbert Building.
Facilities Management Inc. is taking down the buildings, which belong to Carson Tahoe.
The company's president, Mike Richardson, said his crew has actually been working on the site for a month, salvaging everything possible.
"Everything we can keep out of the landfill, we do," Richardson said.
He said all the usable cabinets have been removed, along with fixtures. Some went to hospital employees. Others were offered for sale. Shrubs and other small plants, he said, were given to hospital employees to take home.
His crew spends a lot of time collecting recyclable metals for resale, and he said the proceeds help FMI's profit margin on jobs like this.
All computer and other electronics, even phone systems, get recycled too, much of that equipment going to Computer Corps.
Richardson said that in the end, only what's called the "soft material" - shattered wood and wallboard - goes to the dump.
"Even the oil out of the elevators is being recycled," he said. "We actually even recycle the concrete."
He said he agrees completely that the buildings, built in 1976, must go because their construction just isn't up to code.
He said one telling example is that the elevator shafts are framed in wood.
"I've never seen one that wasn't cast in concrete or cinderblocks," he said, adding that framing them in wood was never proper under building codes.
Richardson said it will take about two weeks to demolish, recycle and remove the remains of each building. He said these buildings are a straightforward job and will come down quickly.
"It's already been completely cleared," he said. "No lead, no asbestos, no mold. Almost no dust."
These buildings won't be demolished as quickly as was a crack house they were asked to tear down along Highway 50. That structure, he said, was down in less than three minutes and the site leveled and clear in four hours.
On this job, he said, he's not in a hurry.
"This is just not a job you've got to go really fast on," he said.
And that fact, Richardson said, benefits police as well as firefighters. Both groups have held extensive exercises in the Gilbert Building he is tearing down this week.
While they clean that up, he said, Carson and East Fork firefighters are planning a training session on the second building.
"Training on a flat roof is very rare for them," he said. "Actually, the best value of these buildings is training."
He said replicating the flat roofs so firemen can practice cutting holes in them and entering the building "would probably cost $100,000."
"I cannot express how useful this training has been to our department," said Carson City Fire Department Battalion Chief John Arneson. "The rare type of training that these buildings provided gave our personnel the confidence to use drastic rescue and evacuation options if needed during a real live fire event."
After the buildings are gone, the parking lots and sidewalks will come out. When the work is finished, the Carson Tahoe Specialty Medical Campus will be a clear, flat piece of potentially valuable urban land. But Richardson said all efforts will be made to spare the mature trees on the 54,400-square-ot property.
Jon Tyler of C-TH said most of the medical practitioners moved out of the complex when the new hospital at the north of town opened.
He said that C-TH doesn't have immediate plans for the property but that it may be limited because the land was donated to the hospital by Edith and Dick Waters on the condition it be zoned for medical services.