GREENVILLE, S.C. -
It took 17 seconds to turn Scott Towers into a 20-foot tall pile of rubble in downtown Greenville Sunday morning.
At 14 stories high, it was the tallest building ever imploded in the city.
The Augusta Street public housing building was leveled to make way for new apartments.
It’s been an iconic part of the downtown Greenville skyline since 1970.
In the early morning darkness, Scott Towers' neighbors evacuated to safety. Seven houses and Garden Apartments, which is right next to the site, had to be evacuated.
Many who left Garden Apartments Sunday morning boarded a bus for a free breakfast as they waited for 44 years of Greenville history to collapse.
“I shed a little tear when we passed by it, yes I did," said Helen Pedrone, who moved from Scott Towers to Garden Apartments within the past year.
On the morning of Scott Towers' big implosion, Pedrone was one of many gathered at the Garden Apartments breakfast who used to live in the public housing high-rise.
“I lived there for 13 years and it was a beautiful home to me," said Pedrone.
Ann Moss brought photos of the high-rise she's held onto since 1970 to the demolition.
“I moved the first tenant in," said Moss.
She had a job assisting the manager when Scott Towers first opened.
“It just brings back sweet memories. That's all I can say. If I had to put a sign on this day -- sweet memories," said Moss.
With the push of a button, about 700 explosives sent Scott Towers' 14 stories crashing to the ground in 17 seconds, as a massive cloud of dust shot hundreds of feet into the air.
The building folded in on itself. The contractor called it "perfect."
Semi trailers were set up near Augusta Road to contain some of the debris. Crews also covered homes with plastic to protect them from dust. Police shut down several nearby streets for about three hours.
As cheers rang out from the hundreds who gathered to watch this little piece of history, Moss said it was bittersweet.
“I may start crying. My husband has been crying ever since we got here," said Moss.
As the dust settles, her photos and memories are all she has left of the Greenville giant.
Early plans for Scott Towers include the redevelopment of about 350 apartment units on the site.
Sixty percent will be low income subsidized housing. Greenville Housing Authority estimates 150 units will be for senior citizens and the remaining units for families.
The timeline for redeveloping the site is three to five years with preliminary work beginning in mid to late 2015.
That depends on financing from both private and public funds.
St. Louis firm McCormack Baron Salazar is assisting the housing authority in redeveloping the area.