LAKEWOOD RANCH — The walls of the unfinished hockey arena off Center Ice Parkway will come tumbling down in early October.
Schroeder-Manatee Ranch President Rex Jensen announced last week a contractor has been hired to demolish the structure, which has sat partially built since its previous owner ran into financial trouble in early 2005.
“I think it’s an eyesore,” Jensen said of the structure. “I don’t think the community deserves to continue to have to look at it.”
During the demolition, C&M Road Builders and Southeast Site Development will carefully disassemble the structure. No dynamite is expected to be used.
“It’s not going to be dramatic or anything,” Jensen said. “It’ll be a slow, methodical process.”
Remnants of the structure — primarily concrete and reinforcing steel — will be recycled, Jensen said.
Developer Pat Neal of Neal Communities said he supported SMR’s decision to demolish the arena, which is located slightly south of his planned Central Park Project. In fact, he even plans to purchase concrete from the demolition as road base for the community.
“It is a good thing for Central Park, and we will not have the ghost of the arena anymore,” Neal said of the demolition. “So, I think Rex has made a good decision.”
The property on which the arena currently sits has a restriction limiting its land use to an arena, but Jensen said SMR likely will apply to change that designation.
“I think the (current) site actually should be repurposed to something of a different character and then move the arena south and make it part of a larger project instead of separate from everything,” Jensen said.
Jensen said one of the primary reasons SMR decided to tear down the arena, besides structural integrity, is because of flaws in the business model and design concept for the facility.
“If you look at the old site plan, you had the arena sitting in the middle with out parcels around it,” he said. “That’s a really awkward thing to do in today’s world. People want to be able to walk in a more connected atmosphere.”
Placing the arena in close proximity to a hotel, for example, may allow the structures to have some common areas, such as a shared kitchen facility.
Jensen said SMR has no immediate plans to move forward with the arena project, which will remain on the shelf until SMR finds a suitable business partner for the project.
Jensen said SMR currently has no plans to change the name of Center Ice Parkway.
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