Beginning of the end for landmarks |

Beginning of the end for landmarks

Jack Cramer watched without a whimper Tuesday as demolition began at the site of his former bowling alley, set to be replaced by a new Holiday Inn Express and conference center in downtown Grass Valley.

Cramer’s father, Gilbert, bought the 2.2 acres on Bank Street in 1946 from the old Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad.

“He sold the ground for the bowling alley and retained the rest,” Cramer said. The son brought the Gold Bowl bowling alley back into the family in 1995, and he ran it and the rest of the property until it was sold to developer Nick Hayhurst.

Cramer said the property had a number of uses through the years, including the Greyhound Bus stop.

Buses would pull off of Bank Street and swing around the back of the two-story concrete building to pick up and unload passengers, Cramer said. Offices downstairs housed the old Railway Express franchise, and upstairs there were doctors and lawyers.

In the GRA-NEVA Appliance Store building, rails that were once used to hang and slide meat carcasses were still attached to the ceiling Tuesday. The rails belonged to a meat locker that was originally in the basement of the Holbrooke Hotel, Cramer said.

One of the original owners of the double Quonset hut that formed the bowling alley always insisted he bought if after World War II in Yuba City and not at old Camp Beale, Cramer said. However, the lanes and pin-setting machines did come from the old base.

Cramer said the double-box concrete culvert that contains Wolf Creek on the property was built by his father as part of the Golden Center Freeway project in the 1960s. Cramer said opening the culvert for a greenbelt as envisioned by the Wolf Creek Alliance will be an expensive endeavor, because it bolsters the freeway and the bridge that traverses the Auburn Street/Colfax Avenue intersection.

“The existing box culvert, we’re not touching it at this time,” said Project Manager Wayne Nygren of M.P. Allen Contractors of Fair Oaks.

What Nygren’s hazardous material crews are touching is asbestos floor tiles and walls throughout the structures. The material will be taken out of the GRA-NEVA and bowling alley this week and demolition of those buildings will start next Monday.

Crews wearing full-body suits will then take the asbestos materials out of the old bus stop and City Center Playhouse, Nygren said, sealing off each room to the cancer-causing material so dust does not escape into the city. Ridding old asbestos from buildings is a constant occurrence across America, Nygren said, and the technology to do it has been around for 25 years.

“We take all this stuff seriously,” Nygren said. “There might be some old underground storage tanks,” that will also have to be removed.

The L-shaped hotel and convention center known as the Gold Miners Inn will front Bank Street with the main entrance between it and the freeway frontage road. Initial excavation will go eight feet deep and the soils will be heavily recompacted because the current ground is loose, Nygren said.

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