Demolition work to take apart the former Beales department store has started today (March 9).
A robotic machine has begun separating one part of the building from the other this morning, as part of the structure is to be retained.
The Husqvarna 250 - worth about £100,000 and videoed above with Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) operator Doral Peake - will spend two weeks creating this ‘divorce cut’ in a process known as severing.
After that there will be an estimated five weeks taking the building down with a larger excavator, following which building work on the new £10m complex, complete with cinema, can start.
Project manager from contractors Spring and Co. Richard Midgley said: “Part of the building is being retained to the left of the site from the site entrance on Raglan Street, so today we are starting the severing process to separate the two parts of the building.
“That work will take place internally for two weeks, and there will be no external reduction of the structure in that time. After that there are five weeks to bring in the larger excavator.
Today we are starting the severing process to separate the two parts of the building. That work will take place internally for two weeks, and there will be no external reduction of the structure in that time.Project manager Richard Midgley
“The steel frame will be going up in the summer. Once we have finished the building we will hand over the keys to the shell and the tenants will fit it out.”
Mr Midgley confirmed that, though not all of the units have been let out yet, the plans are still in place for a cinema to take up the second and third floors of the new building, with food and drink outlets in mind for the other units.
Planning permission for the new £10m complex, to house a four-screen arthouse cinema along with nine restaurants or bars, was unanimously passed last September.
Once demolition is complete, the Beales building, which shut its doors last September, will be replaced by a new modern structure.
Contractors have been on site, between Raglan Street and Albert Street, for 19 weeks putting up boards and ‘soft-stripping’ the inside of the 1950s building.
For the next seven weeks what the team calls a ‘controlled remote demolition’ will take place, using machinery to take the building apart.
Demolition specialist Andy Novak, from Leeds-based firm F Hardwick, explained: “The building doesn’t warrant imploding, so it will be a remote demolition with a high reach excavator to reach around.
“The demolition robot on site today is a bit smaller so it can give us a more controlled divorce cut between the parts of the building.
“It probably won’t take five weeks to demolish, but we have got to take the foundations out as well, so we have got seven weeks from now to complete the demolition.”
The new three-storey complex will house nine units with flexible permissions which could become bars, restaurants, shops or offices.
Owners 4urban Ltd have previously said it is hoped the new cinema will open towards Christmas 2015, while the restaurant and bar units may even be open by autumn next year.