Cost to demolish Russo building half of estimate

HOLLIDAYSBURG – Demolishing what’s known as the Russo building will cost only about half of the original estimate.

Blair County commissioners voted Tuesday to hire Dilapidated Demolition of Cumberland, Md., for $122,740 to tear down the blighted structure at 31st Street and South Branch Avenue.

The company submitted the lowest of 12 bids that went as high as $380,000.

When commissioners agreed a few weeks ago to take bids on demolition, they said the cost had been estimated at $250,000 or more.

“I’m glad [the estimates] were wrong,” Commissioners Chairman Terry Tomassetti said.

Before starting the job, Dilapidated Demolition owner Stanley Boinovych said he must submit a notice to the state Department of Environmental Protection and put up a fence on the site of the former slaughterhouse. He said he expects to bring in a wrecking ball, concrete-crushing equipment and wood-grinding equipment.

The steel recovered will probably be sold for scrap, he said.

Engineer Joseph Keller of Keller Engineers told commissioners he found favorable comments when checking the company’s references.

Commissioner Diane Meling asked Keller if he had any concerns about taking the low bid, when the high bidder asked three times as much to complete the job. Keller said he didn’t because the three lowest bids were very close.

They came from Earthmovers Unlimited of Kylertown at $127,319 and Northeast Industrial Services of Shamokin at $133,475.

Boinovych said it’s not unusual for him to see a wide range of bids for demolition work.

“It’s just the nature of the business,” he said.

While this will be his first job in Blair County, he said his company tore down the former East Taylor Elementary School in Cambria County.

Commissioners agreed a few weeks ago to solicit bids for demolition of the structure on property that attracted no bids at the county’s last sale of property for unpaid taxes. Under the state’s 1947 Real Estate Tax Sale Law, the maintenance of the property rests with the county.

Once Boinovych finishes demolition, commissioners said they hope the site looks attractive to a buyer.