Capital Plaza Tower comes tumbling down with implosion


FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT)-  In a matter of seconds, what once was Frankfort’s tallest building is now a pile of rubble.


The Capital Plaza Tower, a 27-story, 330-foot building that was 46 years old, came tumbling down after being imploded on Sunday.

Finance and Administration Cabinet Secretary William Landrum called it a milestone for the city of Frankfort, Franklin County and the state. 

“Today marks a new beginning,” he said.  “A transformation of downtown Frankfort from ‘Crawfish Bottom’ to today.”

Landrum said they were reducing the footprint of state government, while bringing 1,500 state employees back to the downtown area “resulting in a total of nearly 4,000 state employees who will work, who will shop and who will dine downtown.”

The Capital Plaza Tower was built in 1972 as part of the Capital Plaza Project, which also included the Frankfort Civic Center and Fountain Place Shoppes, which are also being demolished.

The Tower was the third tallest building in Kentucky at the time and was still the tallest outside Louisville and Lexington, until its implosion.

The tower will be replaced by a five-story, 385,500 square foot state office building on the eight-acre site where the Capital Plaza complex is currently located. It will consolidate state offices that are now spread throughout Frankfort. The square footage is more than the tower, which housed between 800-900 workers. 

The contract calls for the state to lease the building for approximately $7.3 million annually for 30 years, after which the building will be turned over to the state. 

Craig Turner, founder and CEO of the construction firm CRM, said the planned building should last 60 years.

“We’ve been given a special opportunity here to transform the landscape of Frankfort, while creating some new development opportunities,” Turner said. “A responsibility that we don’t take lightly.”

Turner told the large crowd gathered for the event that his first job after graduating from Eastern Kentucky University was at the Commerce Cabinet, located on the 23rd and 24th floors of the Tower.

The National Weather Service was also on the scene.  Forecaster Joe Sullivan said their core mission is protection of lives and property. “When you have a big plume of dust and debris coming out from an imploded building, we want to make sure we were giving them good support on where that plume was going to go, in real time fashion.”

They set up a weather station on the roof of the nearby Capital Plaza Hotel to monitor weather conditions, “including temperature, barometric pressure, humidity, wind direction and speed.  In this case, wind direction and speed are the most important,” he said.

Sullivan said there were two things that could have stopped the event, high winds and lightning, neither of which were factors in Sunday’s implosion.  Their weather station is also used during events such as the Kentucky Derby and Thunder Over Louisville, according to Sullivan.

Gov. Matt Bevin and first lady Glenna Bevin held a charity auction on eBay for the right to push the ceremonial plunger to begin the demolition of the Tower.  A.J. Stivers of Shelbyville had the winning bid of $15,000, which will go to the first lady’s charity #WeAreKy! Inc., that supports statewide foster care and adoption initiatives, such as her coat and backpack drives.

The demolition took pace right on time at 1:30 pm.  After the “Fire!” command was given, a series of explosions were heard.  After about five seconds, the building started to drop.  It was transformed into a pile of rubble within about ten seconds.

The new building is scheduled to be completed in March 2020.      


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