'Peace Building' Demolition Behind Schedule

The demolition of the building on Newell Ave. will continue this weekend.

It looks like Godzilla on valium - the crane that is demolishing the 8-story building at 1500 Newell Ave. moves slowly to ensure that no stray pieces endanger the public.

But that pace, while safer, has also caused the project to take longer than expected.

Demolition will continue through the weekend, and if necessary, into next week. However, according to city Communications and Outreach Manager Gayle Vasser, if the project is not completed by Thanksgiving, it will be put on hold through the New Year, since the city doesn't allow construction-related lane closures in between those two holidays.

Businesses in the area are still open, and traffic will continue to be re-routed around the project, she said.

The building, which in the 1970s was a bank owned by former Congressman Pete Stark, had a large peace sign on the side, earning it the moniker 'the Peace Building.' 

It is being demolished to make way for a four-story condominium/retail project.

Paula Miller November 18, 2012 at 03:48 AM
Urban myth.......this building was NOT known as the 'Peace Building'. Only since the start of demolition have I seen reference to this name in the Press. It was known as the Security Bank Building or the Stark Building. Yes, eventually Pete Stark (a wealthy banker at that time) did install a lighted neon peace symbol on the west side of the building but it was not a part of the original structure. The City was not pleased with the sign's addition as it was in violation of the allowed signage space for the building and was controversial during those troubled times in a then rather conservative small town. In response, Stark declared that it was 'art' which seemed to placate the city fathers and the sign stayed in place.
Look... November 18, 2012 at 07:59 AM
This process has been more like an archeological dig than a demolition - just close the surrounding streets for a day and topple the thing. Don't pick away at it, subsequently screwing up traffic for weeks.
Joanna November 18, 2012 at 07:02 PM
I agree with you. I've lived in WC since 1972 (and in the East Bay my whole life), and everyone I know has always called it the Stark Building. I remember the peace symbol that was on it for a while too, but have never called it the Peace Building.
Pete Johnson November 18, 2012 at 08:14 PM
As of Saturday afternoon they had taken down quite a bit of the building, leaving the tower on on one side and a part of the wall on Main St. Looks like they should finish early next week. My understanding is they had to go floor by floor since its near Kaiser Hospital, no implosions allowed. They closed parts of Main and Newell while working on it.
Paula Miller November 19, 2012 at 02:15 AM
Thank you Joanna for confirming my memory on the name of the building. I talked to several other 'old timers' and none of them had ever heard of the name "Peace Building" either. We moved to Walnut Creek in 1967 and have memories of the intersection of S. Main and Newell Avenue being quite civilized.......no more. The erection of the Stark building (at an unprecedented 8 stories) in that part of town in the early 70's started the growth of downtown. Pre-building, Newell Pharmacy was on the southeast corner and Kaiser hospital on the southwest corner. The northeast corner was occupied by Safeway in a very ugly quonset type building and I can't remember what was on the northwest corner where Stark built the bank. Does anyone remember? As much as I love seeing that eyesore building finally being demolished, I hate the thought of even further congestion at that intersection with the addition of retail and housing. We who reside in the adjacent neighborhoods feel like we are being held hostage in our homes as the ingress and egress routes to our areas of town are jammed up by even more dense development aka 'infill' which seems to be very "in" with the planning folks and council members.
Kevon smith November 20, 2012 at 07:11 PM
That building was the tallest building around for many years. It used house some Kaiser departments in the 70's As far as traffic is concerned- the city never will get it. No matter how many traffic engineers or engineering studies It keeps getting worse. Bottom line is money for city coffers "Public input" is Soviet style input, but the politburo & their city staff have decided already. Have you ever wondered why the same people into groupthink keep getting elected to the WC city council? The money behind them comes from the same sources
Pete Johnson November 21, 2012 at 12:47 AM
As of Tuesday afternoon the building is gone and only piles of broken concrete remain. As Paula mentioned nearby neighborhoods are concerned about traffic impacts. In my close-by neighborhood of Parkmead we raised traffic concerns when the 1500 Newell project was being reviewed by the City but were assured there would actually be less traffic than the old 7-11 generated. I remain doubtful but we shall see.


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