Several buildings of what was once the home of W.H. Stewart Co. factory in east Bricktown are set to be demolished as the site is prepared for development of a hotel and apartments.
Bob Meinders, who bought the plant in 2005, estimates the total demolition will span 107,000 square feet of the complex that once covered both sides of Sheridan Avenue between Lincoln Boulevard and Stiles Avenue.
The demolition will clear the site on the north side of Sheridan Avenue, leaving only a couple buildings still standing.
The demolition comes as Meinders is preparing to sell the north half of the complex to developers Gary Brooks and Andy Burnett, who are planning to build a hotel and apartments on the site.
“There are a lot of underground utilities, large storm sewers, abandoned storm sewers, and there's not much we can do on the surface before we remove the buildings,” Meinders said.
Once the site is cleared, Meinders said contractors will need to remove the concrete foundations and two feet of topsoil for ground remediation.
The former W.H. Stewart Co., also known as Stewart Metal Fabricators, once spanned 200,000 square feet and employed 400 people on the site in the late 1990s as a main local contractor for Lucent Technologies.
The business was started as Anchor Burner Co. in 1934 and was moved to what was then known as the wholesale district in 1945. The company was renamed W.H. Stewart Co. in 1950. In the 1960s, the metal fabricator began a long relationship with the city's Western Electric/AT&T plant, making framework and boxes for telephone switching equipment.
The company ceased operations in 2003, and the property was sold soon after.
Early suggestions the complex could be kept intact and converted into retail came to an end when crews determined the complex was built atop large underground storm sewers and that the soil was contaminated.
Burnett said the demolition is part of ongoing preparations for what he hopes will be a transformation of east Bricktown. He estimates the site cleanup will cost $4.5 million. A sale closing is expected by fall.
“We've made progress, and we're trying to slowly move forward,” Burnett said. “It's more complicated than we thought. There are a lot of moving pieces. We believe we've uncovered all the site problems.”
We've made progress, and we're trying to slowly move forward. It's more complicated than we thought.”