The city took the first swipe at tearing down the Delaware Hotel last week when mayor Gary Milner boarded a backhoe to remove pieces from the structure.

The city took the first swipe at tearing down the Delaware Hotel last week when mayor Gary Milner boarded a backhoe to remove pieces from the structure.

Last summer, the county and city agreed to use $1.1-million in Ohio Neighborhood Stabilization Grant funds to buy the site just off South Sandusky Street and demolish the hotel with plans to bring in a developer to transform the property into some type of housing.

The hotel closed in September 2008 after inspectors with the city, the Delaware General Health District and the state fire marshal's office found several code violations. The building suffered additional damage last July in an arson fire.

Demolition will begin when asbestos removal, which is expected to take 35 to 40 days, is complete, said city spokesman Lee Yoakum.

"The (asbestos) abatement will primarily be inside the building. However, the fire damaged portion of the building will need to be removed in total and trucked off site. So this will appear as if the demolition has begun when it hasn't," Yoakum said.

"Demolition will proceed generally from west to east, clawing down the structure," with the pool area probably last, he said. About 80 percent of the materials will be recycled.

Once the building is down, the site will be seeded and covered with straw.

The hotel site is a popular viewing point for the Fourth of July fireworks, Yoakum said, but will be unavailable this year.

The city expects to request proposals from the development community by the end of August or early September, said city planning and development director Dave Efland. The proposals would detail ideas on how to turn the 4.5-acre site into a residential area.

"By 2013, there has to be a residential outcome per the neighborhood stabilization program rules, not just having the site cleared," Yoakum said. "We do not anticipate a problem getting a residential use built or under construction by the target date, based upon informal feedback from the development community."

The project is expected to come in $250,000 to $290,000 below the $1.1-million estimate, according to county officials.

The city-county partnership in February 2010 bought the property for $227,000 from BLX Capital Real Estate LLC. B&B Wrecking of Cleveland is the demolition contractor under a $488,000 contract.

The county commissioners, at their May 27 meeting, agreed to use the remaining Neighborhood Stabilization Funds to demolish 13 buildings in various parts of the county that are considered blighted.