UTICA — The River Ridge Development Authority is launching its first phase of large-scale demolition of the industrial park's "igloos" left over from the days the land was a U.S. Army Ammunition Plant.
The River Ridge board, convening after a holiday luncheon at Nick's Powder Keg Museum of Treasures, approved a $287,500 contract with Bryan Stumler Excavating Inc. to demolish 25 igloos.
The igloos are concrete bunkers where explosive powder was stored while the Clark County ammunition plant was in operation.
They were built far enough apart so if one accidentally exploded, a chain reaction of explosions wouldn't be triggered. The sides are thicker than the tops so the energy from a blast would propel upward and not outward.
Though the igloos — 176 of them — are remnants of World War II and beyond, they are scattered right on top of the industrial park's 1,500-acre megasite marketed for automotive original equipment manufacturing.
"We're going to probably save three or four ... for historical purposes," River Ridge Executive Director Jerry Acy said.
The first phase of igloo demolition will occur along the south side of International Drive, which connects to the Interstate 265 interchange.
"We're getting the ones that are most visible along International Drive to make it a little bit more attractive, hopefully a little bit more marketable," Acy said. "Plus, we've got to get rid of the igloos sooner or later."
Eight igloos have already been demolished in the 6,000-acre industrial park, some in-house and others to make way for River Ridge's gateway entrance that includes a human-engineered lake.
The cost of the demolition contract is about a third of the cost estimated by staff. Depending on how next year's budget shakes out, Acy said there's a chance they may demolish another 25. He estimates the cost to demolish them all at between $1.5 million and $2 million.
Acy expects removal of the first 25 igloos to take three to six months.
River Ridge has much more than the igloos to remove. A large cluster of old structures dominates a large portion of the park closest to Charlestown.
Staff have estimated the next phase of structural demolition will cost $9 million. Acy said they face $200 million worth of demolition before the park is clear of its unused, old buildings.