Demolition of the former Al and James Grocery at 217 N. Beard began Thursday.

Demolition of the former Al and James Grocery at 217 N. Beard began Thursday.

The city commission purchased the building in 2010 for $126,000, with the intentions of using the area as a parking lot and possibly renovating the building to be a police station, City Manager Brian McDougal said.

"At the very most, what we had originally talked about was putting a police station there," McDougal said. "At the very least we need some more parking."

After architects came in to assess the building, it was determined that removing the mold and asbestos, along with other renovations, would cost more than the city had paid for the building, McDougal said.

"Architects told us the building wasn't worth saving," McDougal said.

On July 17 of this year, city commissioners voted 6-1 to award the demolition contract to M&M Wrecking for $43,723. This includes removal of the asbestos.

Commissioner James Harrod, the lone dissenter, believed the building could have been renovated for a much lower price, but he was outvoted.

"If they're going to make a police station, they should've done it without tearing that building down," he said.

With the commitments to building a new communications tower and renovating the swimming pool, Harrod doesn't believe a new police station will be feasible.

"It'll be at least 10 years before we can build a police station," he said.

The current plan is to utilize the space for parking, McDougal said. Until the demolition is finished, no cost estimates will be available, he added.

Newly seated Mayor Wes Mainord had no imput on the voting for the demolition.

"It was all done before we (the new commissioners) came into office," he said.

Mainord added that he isn't opposed to expanding parking for the downtown area.

"Anything we can do to keep things downtown, we need to do it," he said.