Old hotel imploded in New Orleans to clear ground

In a matter of seconds, a 17-story hotel was imploded on Sunday after months of delay.

The old Pallas Hotel on Canal Street, also known as the Grand Palace, was blown up at 8 a.m. with 400 tons of explosives, creating a huge plume of smoke. State officials say the demolition went smoothly.

The city closed several streets and Interstate 10 before and after the demolition. The interstate was reopened Sunday morning.

The demolition took place to make way for the new University Medical Center, a hospital being built to replace the old Charity Hospital, which was closed after Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005 and flooded the hospital's basement.

The Pallas Hotel was one of the last buildings remaining on the site of where the new hospital is being built. The building, originally called Claiborne Towers, has changed hands several times since its 1950 opening but has sat abandoned as a hotel for many years.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu called the implosion "an important milestone" for the city and its plans to build a biomedical corridor.

The demolition was originally scheduled for last Nov. 20 and then rescheduled as officials dealt with permitting issues. A Dec. 18 date was scheduled but officials postponed the demolition twice more after state environmental regulators found more hazardous materials inside the structure.

Contractors will remove the debris left over from the hotel over the next several months, state officials said.

State officials said about 200 people were evacuated before the implosion took place with about 126 residents and six pets housed in hotels. Also, 14 residents from the Iberville public housing complex were bused out of the area before the implosion. Some residents of the housing development were concerned about the dust from the demolition.