There was a slight haze in the air as a water-dispersal machine bathed the concrete and twisted metal that two excavators were sorting and pulverizing at the end of Corporate Park Drive in Harrison.
It was the remnants of the 106 building. The site behind it was nothing but earth. No traces of the two-story, glass-encased building that once stood at 110.
A third building will soon join the two former office buildings as the 20-acre site is readied for the county’s first Wegmans Food Market.
Rochester-based grocer Wegmans bought the site for $26.5 million from Normandy Real Estate Partners LLC. Wegmans got town approvals last year to tear down the three empty office buildings and replace them with a 125,000-square-foot grocery store.
Yonkers-based Capital Industries Corp. is handling the demolition, just as it had at 103 and 105 Corporate Park Drive. There, 200,000-square-feet of former Normandy office space was torn down to make way for 421 apartments. The apartments, from national home-builder Toll Brothers, are now under construction.
The current demolition project, expected to wrap up in early May, will ultimately remove 250,000-square-feet worth of office space from the site. Robert Stevenson, a project executive for Capital overseeing the site, said the demolition will require the removal of 10,000 cubic yards of concrete from the site. The concrete will be recycled and turned into gravel.
Capital officials said the company’s work has followed a trend in the county’s real estate industry: they’ve taken down several office buildings for conversion to residential and other uses in recent years.
Tear-downs in recent years have taken about 4 million square feet of space off Westchester’s overall office real estate market. Westchester’s total office market is around 28 million square feet, down from a peak of 32 million.
That trend, and a strong economy generally, has helped construction and its related demolition work pick up. Construction companies in New York added 7,700 jobs between January and February, leading all sectors, according to state Department of Labor data.
Capital Operations Manager Andrew McGuire said business in the county slowed considerably for demolition and construction work following the Great Recession in 2008. That came after a strong period of business between 2004 and 2006. But the level of work the firm is handling now exceeds even then.
“I’ve never seen anything like what we are doing now,” McGuire said, adding that the company has bought new equipment and brought in extra employees to keep up.
The work goes beyond just office tear-downs. Capital’s excavators were on site earlier this month in New Rochelle for RXR Realty’s groundbreaking at 26 S. Division St. Capital is clearing out a former municipal garage between Church and Division streets there so RXR can construct two, 28-story towers with a combined 730 rental apartment units.
Back on Corporate Park Drive, the Wegmans store will include a cafe area and 736 parking spaces on site. The company will build an additional 8,000-square-foot standalone retail building for an undetermined use.
A Wegmans spokesperson said that the company has not determined an opening date for the Westchester location. A list of planned store openings for 2018 on the company’s website does not include the Harrison location.