Excavator tears through walls as demolition of Downtown Plaza begins

There's probably no turning back now.

The demolition of Downtown Plaza began in earnest early today, as the struggling shopping mall began giving way to the site of the new Sacramento Kings arena.

About a week after prep work started, a giant excavator tore out the walls of the southernmost building of Downtown Plaza, at Fifth and L streets. The building used to house, among other tenants, the Pre-Flite Lounge.

In contrast to last week's "demolition ceremony," attended by Mayor Kevin Johnson and other dignitaries, only a small crowd was on hand this morning. Commuter traffic passed by on L Street, with some motorists barely pausing to watch the spectacle.

A few Kings employees were present. Kings President Chris Granger stopped by briefly, pronounced the start of demolition "exciting," and moved on to a meeting.

The $477 million arena is scheduled to open in October 2016. It still faces a handful of legal obstacles, including a pair of lawsuits challenging the project under the California Environmental Quality Act.

But officials with the team and the city have said they believe the project will continue without interruption.

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