Keystone Towers tumble down

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Hundreds of people watched from nearby as explosives brought down a long-shuttered Indianapolis apartment tower that had become a neighborhood eyesore and a haven for crime.

About 750 pounds of explosives brought down the Keystone Towers' 15-story apartment building and 8-story office building in about 15 seconds Sunday morning. The apartment building's elevator shaft remained standing, as demolition crews had expected.

Project estimator Frank Burdick of Indianapolis-based Denney Excavating said crews would begin removing debris Monday and then draft plans later in the week to raze the elevator shaft.

The complex was built in the early 1970s but had long been empty and had become a haven for squatters, drug dealers and illegal dumping.

Denney Excavating received the contract to demolish the 15-story building in June after submitting a bid of $827,000.

The building, northeast of the Indiana State Fairgrounds and near the intersection of Keystone Avenue and Binford Boulevard, was closed in 2008 after it was deemed unsuitable for human habitation by the Marion County Health Department.

After the site is cleared, the city will explore redeveloping the site. Any new projects must include mixed-income rental housing by the rules of the federal grant used to demolish the 15-story complex.

Keystone Towers has been mostly vacant for more than 10 years. The apartment complex, built by local developer George Ginger in 1974 as the VIP Center, originally included apartment and office components and was intended to be a crown jewel on the midtown Keystone Avenue corridor. However, leasing problems hampered the project from the beginning and the office space was eventually converted into apartments.

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