WESTFIELD, NJ — The odor of wine permeated the air around Trader Joe’s Friday evening when, after a late start at about 3 p.m., crews stopped demolishing the building at about 5 p.m. Elm Street was expected to re-open for the weekend beginning at about 6 p.m. Work will continue Monday morning, according to Steve Freedman, the town of Westfield’s building inspector and construction official.
Much of the building was razed within the two hours crews were able to work Friday as spectators, including local business people, families, news crews and Trader Joe’s crew members, looked on.
Demolition began on the Elm Street side of the building, where wine and beer had been displayed inside the store. The Trader Joe’s sign remained intact Friday, though behind it much of the store was demolished.
Just how much more of the building will need to be torn down will be determined as work continues, Freedman said. Westfield police will continue to secure the building until its contents can be safely removed by Trader Joe’s, probably on Wednesday, he said.
Freedman estimated that rebuilding could take about eight months, but that may depend on what the building’s owners decide to do. (Trader Joe’s is a tenant.) If the owners want to make the building larger, they would need to go before the planning board, he explained.
“We’ll expedite the permit, provided they want to make it the same size,” Freedman said.
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