The owners of the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in New Orleans that partially collapsed last month, killing three workers and sending debris onto the street near one of the city's major tourist areas, plan to implode the remaining floors, they said Tuesday.
Engineers determined that an implosion is the safest way to demolish the building, the hotel developer, 1031 Canal Development LLC, said in a statement. City officials expect the implosion to happen in nine weeks.
“We cannot find anyone to say that it’s safe to destroy it in any other manner,” Fire Chief Tim McConnell told reporters.
Parts of the upper concrete floors of the hotel collapsed on Oct. 12 while workers were at the site near the city's French Quarter. The floors crushed down on one another, killing three workers and damaging cranes.
The bodies of two victims have not been recovered and remain in the unstable wreckage.
"We continue to mourn the loss of three workmen on the site and pray for the comfort of their families during these days and weeks of uncertainty and grief," Canal Development said.
McConnell said the bodies will be recovered once the building comes down.
The implosion will coincide with the College Football Championship being hosted in New Orleans on Jan. 13 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. McConnell said the implosion could be slightly delayed because of the game, NOLA.com reported.
Canal Development said it hired Kolb Grading LLC and its affiliate Dem/Tech for the project. Both companies will work with city agencies to finalize a demolition plan.
The developer said it is "actively engaged with city, state and federal agencies since the moment this incident occurred to respond to the many issues caused by the incident."
McConnell said the city is working with the company on a plan to stabilize the crane still leaning against the collapsed site and to set up a protected walkway so the adjacent Saenger Theatre can reopen in early December.
An investigation into the cause of the collapse is ongoing. Evidence will be gathered once the building is brought down, McConnell said. He said he expects contracts could be in place as early as next week.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.