The 84-year-old, six-story Heritage Tower at 208 N. Green St. in Longview is undergoing a major conversion from being used for commerce to housing renters ages 55 and older.
Demolition work on former offices on the fourth to sixth floors started about two weeks ago, said Terry Fontenot, superintendent of Hamilton Builders LLC, based in Springfield, Missouri.
Work started on the sixth floor for practical reasons, Fontenot said during a tour Thursday morning.
By starting at the top, demolition workers avoid disturbing work that would take place below afterward, he said. An 18-man demolition crew from ARC Abatement in Houston loads debris from the demolition down a chute that takes it to a dumpster outside.
The demolition work and removing asbestos are the first steps for renovating the building, according to Fontenot. Renovations for old buildings typically require removing asbestos, which was formerly used for insulation and as a fire retardant but has been linked to several cancers and diseases.
Fontenot said he expects the renovation to be completed in September or October 2020.
Heritage Tower Joint Venture applied to the Longview Development Services Department a month ago for a commercial renovation permit for the building with a construction value of nearly $5.5 million.
The third to sixth floors will each have seven apartment units, Fontenot said. The second floor will have six units, and the first floor will have two handicap-accessible units, along with an exercise room, library and retail space.
He took an elevator to start the tour on the sixth floor, which is completely gutted.
It is “just a concrete floor,” Fontenot said. “It is a lot of work.”
He said work is nearing completion on the fifth floor and said both the fourth and fifth floors have the original marble wainscoting that will be preserved on the corridor walls.
The Longview Historic Preservation Commission voted unanimously in June to designate the building as a local historical landmark.
On the third floor, tape closed off an area that is deemed dangerous to enter. The closed area contains duct work removed from the ceiling, metal door frames and other debris from tearing down walls.
Demo work will come afterward on the second floor, according to Fontenot. He said the floor lacks historical value because it no longer retains any of its original fixtures or finishes.
Fontenot said the next step will be laying out new plumbing.
“We will have to build new walls,” he said. Electrical work will follow that, he said.
Fontenot said the final work will involve installing the floors on the second, third and sixth floors, while the other floors still boast their original terrazzo flooring.
He said the building will retain a mail chute that runs up to the sixth floor and has a slot on each floor, allowing mail to be deposited and drop down into a metal collection box on the first floor.