The charred remains of the old Maple Terrace Apartments likely won't be cleared until the first week of December, about eight months later than Lower Columbia College officials had hoped.

LCC officials are taking bids to finish demolishing the two buildings, said college spokeswoman Sue Groth. The college owns the former apartments near the corner of Maple Street and Olympia Way in Longview and plans to build a parking lot on the property.

The 62-unit complex was mostly burned to the ground in August when firefighters used it for training. Bidding to complete the demolition couldn't take place until after the training burns, when estimates could be made on how much it will cost to clear the site, Groth said. A contractor will be selected by early October, she said.

A chain link fence has surrounded the apartments since February, and grass and weeds grew tall as the demolition was delayed several times. Piles of sooty brick and debris are now scattered throughout the property.

College officials first anticipated the demolition might begin in early spring, but asbestos containment, permitting delays and scheduling conflicts pushed back the project.

The Maple Terrace demolition is the first phase of a larger project that includes construction of a $37 million science building on the southwest end of the LCC campus. The college didn't receive state funding for the building in the 2011-13 capital projects budget, but it has been awarded money for the parking lot. The science building most likely will be funded in the state's 2013-15 budget cycle.

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