Demolition day finally arrives | Local News | newburyportnews.com – The Daily News of Newburyport

Rain showers early will evolve into a more steady rain overnight. Low 62F. Winds S at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 100%. Rainfall around a half an inch..
Rain showers early will evolve into a more steady rain overnight. Low 62F. Winds S at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 100%. Rainfall around a half an inch.
Updated: June 7, 2022 @ 8:49 pm
BRYAN EATON/Staff photoTwo excavators were on site to demolish the old Port Theater, which had also been the Fitness Factory for many years on Merrimac Street at Titcomb Street in Newburyport. A city parking garage will be built. It may take another day or two for the demolition to be complete.
BRYAN EATON/Staff photoTwo excavators were on site to demolish the old Port Theater, which was also the Fitness Factory for many years on Merrimac Street at Titcomb Street in Newburyport. A parking garage will be built at the site. It may take another day or two for the demolition to be complete.
BRYAN EATON/Staff photoThe Newburyport Fire Department was on hand to hose down the site to keep the dust down.
BRYAN EATON/Staff photoTwo bystanders watch as the former Port Theater and Fitness Factory building in Newburyport is demolished. Construction will begin soon on the city’s new parking garage.
BRYAN EATON/Staff photoThe stairway leading to the third floor can be seen as debris falls.
BRYAN EATON/Staff photoThe entrance to the old Port Theater at Pleasant and Titcomb streets in Newburyport. This section should be taken down by Tuesday or Wednesday.
BRYAN EATON/Staff photoAbout a third of the building was demolished by early Monday afternoon. The building had been the Port Theater, which closed about 1974 and was Gabriel’s store for many years, selling clothing and other items.

BRYAN EATON/Staff photoTwo excavators were on site to demolish the old Port Theater, which had also been the Fitness Factory for many years on Merrimac Street at Titcomb Street in Newburyport. A city parking garage will be built. It may take another day or two for the demolition to be complete.
BRYAN EATON/Staff photoTwo excavators were on site to demolish the old Port Theater, which was also the Fitness Factory for many years on Merrimac Street at Titcomb Street in Newburyport. A parking garage will be built at the site. It may take another day or two for the demolition to be complete.
BRYAN EATON/Staff photoThe Newburyport Fire Department was on hand to hose down the site to keep the dust down.
BRYAN EATON/Staff photoTwo bystanders watch as the former Port Theater and Fitness Factory building in Newburyport is demolished. Construction will begin soon on the city’s new parking garage.
BRYAN EATON/Staff photoThe stairway leading to the third floor can be seen as debris falls.
BRYAN EATON/Staff photoThe entrance to the old Port Theater at Pleasant and Titcomb streets in Newburyport. This section should be taken down by Tuesday or Wednesday.
BRYAN EATON/Staff photoAbout a third of the building was demolished by early Monday afternoon. The building had been the Port Theater, which closed about 1974 and was Gabriel’s store for many years, selling clothing and other items.
NEWBURYPORT — The walls of the former Fitness Factory building on Titcomb Street came crashing down on Monday, marking the beginning of the site’s transformation into what will eventually be a municipal parking garage. 
The aging brick building is being demolished as part of an agreement between the city and New England Development, which owns the property but will pass ownership of its site to the city after the demolition is complete.
The city will then be able to build its 207-space parking garage at the corner of Merrimac and Titcomb streets, a project that has been in the works for roughly three decades. 
The Fitness Factory received its nickname from an exercise facility that was one of the building’s most prolific former tenants.
In years past, it was also home to a clothing store and to the Port Theater, which Mayor Donna Holaday said many residents may remember fondly as where they saw some of their favorite movies.
More recently, the building was occupied by the Vanguard Key Club and Fuel training studio, both of which Holaday said are “very pleased” with their recent relocation to 22 Graf Road.
Holaday said she is pleased to see one of the city’s less-charming sites finally being removed as part of a project that will be both an aesthetic and functional improvement.
“The Fitness Factory certainly wasn’t an attractive site and it was long past its heyday — it needed a lot of work that New England Development did not want to put into it,” Holaday said. “It proved to be a good site for the garage, and after 30 years, it’s nice to finally see some progress.” 
Demolition is set to take place over a four- to six-week period with construction of the garage beginning early next year. 
Jack Shea covers Newbury­port City Hall. He can be reached via email at jshea@newburyportnews.com or by phone at 978-961-3154. Follow him on Twitter @iamjackshea.
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