This is the moment excavators began — delicately — tearing down Jewish Care’s North-West London headquarters.
The site, which includes Stuart Young House and the Michael Sobell Community Centre, is being demolished to make way for a £40 million redevelopment.
The work began with excavating machines pulling down the existing buildings this week.
The project will take around two years, longer than similar redevelopments because of the unusual nature of the demolition work.
During most demolitions, excavators begin at either end of a building. But due to the lack of space, these had to start demolishing from the middle — and carry out the process slowly and carefully to avoid a collapse.
As the vehicles moved on to the site, Jewish Care’s chief executive Simon Morris donned a hard hat, high-visibility jacket and protective boots and gloves to watch.
“I feel a mixture of emotions seeing this,” he said, as an excavator tore down a wall near his former offices.
“I feel some sadness because of the history that the building has for the community, but also great excitement about what we are building for the future. The extra care will make a massive difference to the community, and particularly to older people, who are so often neglected.”
Once the rubble is cleared, building will start on an ambitious project aimed primarily at improving care for the elderly within the community.
The redevelopment will house a 56-bed state-of-the-art residential nursing home for dementia sufferers.
There will also be 45 extra-care assisted-living flats on the Golders Green site. These will be for people over 60 who wish to live independently but need the a 24-hour care team who will live nearby. Holocaust survivors will be given priority. The site will also be home to a community day centre.
Jewish Care’s offices, which were based at Stuart Young House until their temporary move to Edgware, Middlesex, while work on the site takes place, will also return.
Mr Morris said the project was by far the largest that had ever been undertaken by Jewish Care, and possibly the largest that the Anglo-Jewish community had ever seen, with the exception perhaps of the relocation of JFS school. “This is something that can set a standard for the community and for wider society,” he added.
“It shows exactly what Jewish Care represents, which is a partnership with the community. It’s particularly exciting how this project has excited people. Everyone wants to be a part of it.”
He said he hoped the development would be completed by autumn 2010.