By Carlos Morales
After standing for more than a half-century in downtown Midland, the nine-story Building of the Southwest is slated for demolition.
City officials this week met with the demolition group Midwest Wrecking Company of Texas to set a timeline for the $1.28 million project, which is expected to last until late April.
The wrecking crew will begin to move in equipment this week, as the City closes off a string of surrounding streets. Expect one northbound lane on Big Spring St. from W. Texas Avenue to W. Illinois Avenue to be closed for the duration of the demolition project. The two furthest left lanes on W. Texas Avenue Will also be closed until April, and from Feb. 1 to Feb 3, the City will close both northbound lanes on Big Spring Street, as Midwest Wrecking moves in more demolition equipment.
“After decades of an empty building, we are thrilled to remove this eyesore,” said Midland Mayor Jerry Morales in a press release. “This is a milestone in our efforts to revitalize and renew the heart of downtown.”
According to city officials the first phase of the months-long project will involve the demolition of the building’s basement levels and interior architecture, and the removal of a two-story garage next to the Building of the Southwest. The demolition of the 54-year-old building could begin in late March, pending the approval of the Midland City Council. For the demolition, the city will need to close off an area surrounding the Building of the Southwest, which will include Big Spring Street — a state highway. Doing this will require coordination with the Texas Department of Transportation, according to Elana Ladd, the city’s public information officer.
Dubbed the “Tall City,” Midland’s downtown has become known for its towering buildings — a few of which have mostly sat empty for decades following the oil bust of the 1980s. Out of the 23 high-rise buildings downtown (there are 145 total buildings in the downtown corridor), only 4 are currently empty: the Vaughn, the Building of the Southwest, the Western Life Building and the First National Bank Building.
Across the street from the Building of the Southwest, the Vaughn —which developers have attempted to renovate in the past —has a new development offer. It’s set to become condominiums and office space, the type of mixed-use Midland officials are pushing for in the downtown corridor.
Previous estimates found renovating the Building of the Southwest would’ve been a bigger cost to the City rather than demolishing it.