Hard Rock Hotel Update: Changes to demolition plans and businesses reopening

Hard Rock Hotel and businesses

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - The demolition plans for the Hard Rock construction collapse site could be changing.

The Hard Rock Hotel site was initially slated for implosion mid-January. However, it may have different plans. The owners of the hotel have a new proposal on how to bring the building down, according to a statement from New Orleans Fire Chief Tim McConnell.

"The owners put out a press release, saying that they have a plan and it does not involve an implosion. We've been aware that they were looking at several different things, and that some of the footprints that would be affected was rather large with the implosion plan,” McConnell said.

He doesn't know details of the plan, but he wants to ensure the demolition doesn't have too much impact.

The hard rock owners are responsible for coming up with a plan of demolition, but needs the city's approval before proceeding, according to McConnell.

"Making sure that this is being done in a way that obviously life safety's number one, lives being lost or people injured is number one, two is recovery of the victims, and also the impact on the community, the structures,” McConnell said.

In the meantime, some business owners reopened their stores for the first time since the collapse over the weekend.

Owner of Diva Beauty Salon, Akram Abdulbaqi describes opening the store and having to clean and change things around.

“Took me about two to three hours. I cleaned and I opened, expecting to get some business, you know? What we lost, but it was really dead business," Adulbaqi said.

The fence that blocked off his store along with several others on the block is now only open to foot traffic.

"When I came the first morning, and I paid attention to the fence covering the store, I parked my car across the street, but when you look towards here, you don't even see the store sign. All that catches your eye here on Canal Street is store signs wherever you go. So I went and printed that yellow sign to at least attract more customers,” he said.

A couple of stores down, a clothing store also has placed out signs to let customers know they back open.

Customer Lisa John visited one of her favorite stores today that recently reopened.

"This is one of my favorite stores, I come here anyway to shop for my daughter, and when I heard they was reopened, I said girl we have to go and support them like we did before, because you know, everybody have tough times,” John said.

Updates on how to get to the businesses can be found on the Downtown Development District website as they start to open.

While some business owners say they may close if foot traffic continues to be slow, Kurt Weigle, president and CEO of the Downtown Development District is optimistic about the future of Canal Street.

"We are definitely at a turning point for this block, but I think in a positive way because we’ve got a couple of major projects under construction,” Weigle said.

“Properties are going to be open, one of them, probably in the next few months,” he said.

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