[Video] Astor demolition to be speeded up

Owner of the property Rizwan Khan looks on as workmen remove sections of the building which housed the Astor Cinema.

Today,  the building which housed the Astor Cinema is likely to be completely demolished. This is according to  owner of the property Rizwan Khan.

Speaking with Stabroek News while supervising the ongoing demolition yesterday, Khan noted that the City Administration has been contacting him daily about the demolition and as such he has decided to speed up the process with their help.

“The city council will block off the road (Waterloo Street) so that equipment can speed up the process. The building will be down before the weekend, should be down by end of tomorrow [today],” he said.

Stabroek News was unable to confirm this information with either the Town Clerk Royston King or City Engineer Colvern Venture. Calls to both men went unanswered.

Notably Khan has taken action to speed up the demolition after Stabroek News reported in yesterday’s edition that Deputy Mayor of Georgetown, Lionel Jaikarran said that he would be recommending to King that city workers complete the demolition of the Astor Cinema and have the cost of the works attached to the rates for the property.

Safety concerns were raised by passers-by over the fact that there are no caution cordons around the area to inform persons that the building is being demolished, debris is being placed along the sides of the road and the workers are not equipped with any safety gear.

A visit by Stabroek News on Tuesday to the site of the former cinema, at the junction of Waterloo and Church streets, revealed that the building is leaning towards Waterloo Street, and most of the wooden structure of the eastern wall had been removed. It was explained that a part of the building had crumbled.

The Council had instructed the new owners of the building to halt demolition until they put safety measures in place to protect both the workers and members of the public.

However, the instructions were ignored and workers continued to pull down the derelict building. It was observed that the men who are conducting the demolition work had draped old film around the building as a makeshift cordon, which served no useful purpose since persons could not easily identify it.

This continued to be the situation yesterday though Khan seemed unfazed. Asked about whether the city had rescinded their directive that demolishing be halted Khan said he did not need the city’s permission. Asked what safety precautions would be instituted he referred to the cordon which is supposed to be provided by the city today noting that it should be enough.

In the last week of July, workers began dismantling the building. The once popular Astor Cinema had been abandoned since its closure in April, 2013. It was the last city cinema to close its doors. The Globe, Empire, Metropole, Plaza and Strand cinemas, all in central Georgetown had long been out of commission, along with the Star in Albouystown, and Hollywood and Liberty in the Kitty area.

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