A landmark in Elkhart is now a pile of rubble. Crews finished tearing down most of the old "Walter Piano" building Friday.
The building packed a lot of history, but people living in the area aren't sad to see it go. The former Walter Piano building hasn't been used for five years. Over time, it's fallen into disrepair and has attracted squatters and crime. Those in the neighborhood say they're glad to see it torn down.
It's been in the city of Elkhart since the early 1900's, but now the old Walter Piano building is no more.
"That's the sad thing about communities our age is that a lot of architecture is being gone, but when we get to the point where it becomes unrepairable, we've got to take action with it," said Denny Correll, the Brownsfield Coordinator for the city of Elkhart.
The building was once the home to an auto maker and later a piano company, but Correll says it's been empty for years and has fallen apart.
"There were actually seven spots in the roof where it actually collapsed one or two floors down," he said.
The building was an eyesore and Correll says it attracted drug dealers, gang activity and squatters.
"This site has been a blight in the neighborhood for quite a while and also a safety and security hazard and health hazard, as well," he said.
Kristen Senne is with the North Riverside Neighborhood Association. The group has supported the demolition of the building all along.
"I think one is moral, there can be a lack of desire to invest in your own property if you see that the rest of your neighborhood is not being cared for," she said.
The building once stood four stories tall. Now there's just one story left. By next week, it'll be flat to the ground. Crews will then clear away all the debris, making room for a new beginning for this site.
The demolition was paid for by federal and state grant money. It cost about $400,000. The city matched ten percent. Once the rubble is all cleared away, an environmental study will be done to see if there's any soil or groundwater contamination.
The North Riverside Neighborhood Association is holding a meeting Tuesday, March 26 at 6pm at
St. Paul's United Methodist Church to discuss the future of the site, among other things.