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Live now: Wrecking ball starts to take down the old Pheil Hotel in downtown St. Petersburg

The 1920s-era Pheil Hotel, dubbed the "cheese grater" after its metal facade added in the 1960s, is currently being demolished. SCOTT KEELER   |   Times
The 1920s-era Pheil Hotel, dubbed the "cheese grater" after its metal facade added in the 1960s, is currently being demolished. SCOTT KEELER | Times
Published Nov. 9, 2016

ST. PETERSBURG — The final stages of demolition of the historic Pheil Hotel and bank are about to begin.

Workers today began moving into place a lattice crane, which at 9 a.m. Wednesday is scheduled to hoist a 6,500 pound wrecking ball several feet above the 11-story hotel on the 400 block of Central Avenue. The massive hole created as the ball plunges through the center of the building will become a repository for pieces of the hotel as it is demolished over the next two weeks.

Crews will also use the wrecking ball to smash apart the smaller bank building next door.

Erected in the 1920s during St. Petersburg's first boom, the long-vacant hotel and bank are being razed to allow redevelopment of the block, possibly for a mixed-used tower and hotel.

Since the 1960s, both buildings have been sheathed in aluminium grillwork, giving them the appearance of giant cheese graters. If pieces of the grillwork fall off during demolition, it might be possible to catch a glimpse of the original brick and blue-tile facade.

Previous coverage: As development deal nears for old Pheil Hotel, take a look inside a building frozen in time

Lanes along Central Avenue and Fourth Street N will be blocked off for the next several weeks as Tampa-based Kimmins Contracting continues with the demolition, which began in August with a parking garage on the site. Work is expected to be finished by Thanksgiving, the company says.

Contact Susan Taylor Martin at smartin@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate