The Leavenworth Fruit warehouse, which hasn't housed fruit since the late 1990s, will be demolished and much of the space will be used for parking.

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LEAVENWORTH — Leavenworth visitors will finally be able to find a place to park in December when the Leavenworth Fruit warehouse is demolished. About 75 percent of the 118,000-square-foot building and property will be devoted to a new parking lot.

The massive concrete building on the east side of downtown Leavenworth on Highway 2 hasn’t housed fruit since the late 1990s. It has been a longtime eyesore for Leavenworth residents and visitors.

“One of our city councilmen said that he had been looking forward to the day the warehouse would come down for 30 years,” Leavenworth Mayor Cheri Farivar said. “It’s been a long time coming in the community and the city.”

Demolition will begin the first weekend in November, Farivar said. City administrator Joel Walinski hopes work will be finished by the end of November. The Nelson Group, which owns the property, plans to build an 8,200-square-foot retail space on the west end of the property, closest to downtown.

As long as they are structurally sound, some of the guts of the old fruit-packing building, including bow trusses, will be used in an ice rink and pavilion that is planned near the Festhalle. The space will operate as an ice rink for three months of the year and a pavilion for events the rest of the year, Farivar said.

Walinski said there will be some sort of tribute to the history of the building and the industry it represents.

“It kind of marks a point in history because fruit in the upper valley is and was one of the main economic strongholds,” he said. “Whatever we do, there needs to be at least a nod to the history.”

The fruit warehouse has seen hardly any use in the past 15 years, Walinski said. It is used annually for Leavenworth’s Oktoberfest celebration, and he said there will be some small changes to the event. Walinski said he thinks the event will still be held on site.

The city leases the property, with an option to buy. Walinski thinks it will be at least a year before the city decides whether to buy the property.

The City Council is excited that demolition is finally starting, Walinski said.

“It does open up the downtown area visually. But it also opens up an economic revitalization in that area,” he said.