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Detroit — In a blink of an eye, nearly a century of the city's history disappeared into dust Saturday following an early-morning implosion that brought spectators from around Metro Detroit to capture it with cell phones or traditional Canon cameras.

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The historic Park Avenue Hotel comes down to make way for the planned $450 million new home for the Detroit Red Wings.

The historic Park Avenue Hotel was brought down around 8 a.m. as some watched from a parking deck across from the Fox Theatre and others watched from Woodward Avenue about a mile away.

"That was all of two seconds," said Willis Mills as he stood on Woodward near St. John's Episcopal Church to view the demolition. "I didn't want to miss it."

Mills was among others who broke their Saturday morning routines to come to the city's center to watch the implosion of one of the city's historic landmarks.

Norman Melton, of Detroit, showed up early with friends to watch the historic moment. He said he witnessed the implosion of the old J.L. Hudson's building October 24, 1998 and wasn't about to miss the Park Shelton being brought down.

"I think it's awesome," said Melton as he waited with excitement to witness history being made. "Detroit needs a change and it's a change for the good."

Novi resident Joe Welbes was thrilled as well for the chance to see the implosion of the old hotel.

"This is my first time seeing an implosion," said Welbes as he waited on Woodward near Comerica Park. He said he planned to take pictures for memories. "I'm ready for it."

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The former Park Avenue hotel, which stood 13 stories and was located at 2643 Park Avenue, was in the heart of the planned $450 million new home for the Detroit Red Wings. The company which performed the implosion said earlier it would use 200 pounds of dynamite strategically placed in the old structure to have it collapse onto itself.

The Italian-renaissance inspired Park Hotel building, designed by architect Louis Kamper, opened 91 years ago during the city's 1920s boom . It opened as one of Detroit's upscale hotel at the corner of Park and Sproat in the Cass Corridor. It last housed the Salvation Army Harbor Light mission before it closed in 2003. The building was designed by architect Louis Kamper, who created many of the city's leading hotels and other downtown landmarks.

The neighboring building the former Eddystone Hotel is expected to be developed into a 100-unit apartment building.

Angelo Pitts said he missed the implosion of the old J.L. Hudson's building and wanted to be there for the demolition of the Park Avenue.

"I want to see the smoke," said Pitts Saturday who added he is glad to see new development coming to Detroit. "I am glad they are bringing new events to the city."

The implosion occurred so fast that a few people who came late were stunned to find out that it had already been completed as they walked through a thin haze of dust down Woodward near Grand Circus Park.

bwilliams@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2027

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