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World War II-Era Military Compound Demolished In Bayonne, N.J. To Make Way For New UPS Facility

BAYONNE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Two large buildings on a former military base in northern New Jersey were demolished on Sunday.

The group behind the move says the new facility planned for the land will bring thousands jobs to the area, CBS2's Kiran Dhillon reported.

The sound of the explosion could be heard for miles. Smoke filled the air as two six-story structures from the 1940s came crashing down.

"It started coming down, like seventh floor, sixth floor, fifth floor and then it was just smoke," Thomas Hammond said.

A married couple worked in one of the two buildings for 40 years. They were some of many locals who gathered to watch the demolition.

"It was a very mixed feeling. It was sad because both our offices were on the seventh floor and that came down first," Hasmik Hammond said.

During World War II, the site in Bayonne was used by the U.S. Navy as a supply depot before the Army took control of it in 1967. A wave of base closures halted operations in 1999.

"This was a military ocean terminal. It was the Navy and the Army. If our country was attacked, these buildings could withstand a 500-pound bomb," Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis said.

Officials say because the buildings were created to withstand bombs, crews actually removed bomb-proof panels for the implosion. After that work was completed, workers then went in and placed explosives inside the structures.

The company behind the procedure, Lincoln Equities Group, purchased the 153-acre site in 2018 and has since demolished most of the structures on it.

The plan is to build a UPS regional hub facility on the land.

"It'll bring thousands of jobs to the region. We're building a brand new road. The major interchange has already been improved, and we're adding a road in order to facilitate the traffic into the new interchange," Lincoln Equities Group president Joel Bergstein said.

And while some are sad to see the buildings go, many said they are excited to the see the economy get a boost.

"As far as jobs go, I think it's great because they need a lot of jobs. It's a good thing," Hasmik Hammond said.

Construction of the UPS complex should be completed by 2023.

CBS2's Kiran Dhillon contributed to this report.

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