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WWII-Era Control Tower Faces Demolition

FL City Working To Clear Path For Bulldozers

Blame it on the hurricanes. A World War II-era air traffic control tower at North Perry Airport (HWO) near Hollywood, FL faces imminent demolition, unless someone comes up with the estimated $1.2 million needed to save it.

The Miami Herald reports the 65-year-old tower will soon come down, to make way for a planned industrial park.

The tower opened in 1942, to oversee flight operations for US Navy pilots training for World War II. Most recently, it was home to a local restaurant and dance club... but when the Mayday Restaurant and Lounge closed in 1999, the building fell into disrepair. Two successive hurricanes damaged the tower's roof, requiring unsightly blue tarps to protect the tower from further damage.

"It's a link to the World War II days when Florida was important to the war effort," Pembroke Pines historian Gerry Witoshynsky says. "This building is a relic from that time period. Unless someone can come up with the state or county to designate it historic, it looks as though it's a goner."

Broward County Aviation Department director Walter Houghton says the airport is waiting for the city of Pembroke Pines to approve the demolition permit.

"We're in their jurisdiction," Houghton said, adding county commissioners approved demolition back in June.

Despite being named "a site of significant local interest" in 1989, the tower was never added to the National Register of Historic Places. City Commissioners plan to meet Wednesday to look into removing the local declaration, clearing the last hurdle before demolition commences.

Mayor Frank Ortis says he's received a number of calls from residents hoping he'll save the building... but barring a last-minute cash infusion, he doesn't think it's possible.

Houghton also says money is the sticking point in saving the old tower.

"Who's going to put up the money to repair it?" Houghton asked.

FMI: www.broward.org/airport/northperry.htm

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