Why demolition of a Cocoa Beach hotel is drawing attention amid hurricane season

An old hotel in Cocoa Beach is being torn down to build a high-end hotel and conference center. However, the mess left behind has at least one resident concerned about the loose debris should a tropical system make its way to the Space Coast.

It’s at the site of the former International Palms resort, off A1A near Lori Wilson Park. Demolition is underway, but neighbors are worried about what’s being left behind. 

Bobby Celsor, who lives in the area and is concerned, believes the debris is dangerous and could hurt someone should a tropical storm or hurricane make landfall. 

"These projectiles, they can go through people’s houses. They can go through people’s cars," he said.

He said the debris has been piling up for months allegedly some have sat for months untouched.

"I don’t see the parade of trucks that need to be hauling this stuff off because hurricane season is breathing down our neck," he said.

He recorded drone video of the site and shared it with FOX 35. He said he does not know why developers have not moved the debris away from the construction site. 

"You’d go for months at a time again where nothing was going on," he said.

FOX 35 brought Celsor's concerns to the City of Cocoa Beach. 

City Manager Wayne Carragino told FOX 35 that the city is monitoring the project and understand's the community's concerns.

"It’s not falling on deaf ears," he said.

He said the developer and city have plan should strong storms move through over the summer, especially as the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season is underway.

"They level the piles. They take all their heavy equipment, park that on top of the piles and then they’ll take big beams and lay those across to prevent anything from getting airborne," he said. 

The old hotel is being demolished to build a huge Westin resort that will have a conference center and parking garage. The demolition should be completed within six weeks, according to the city. 

"Like a lot of our projects here, they had trouble with funding. They’ve got their funding all set and yeah, it’s moving along nicely," he said.

"We'll get there," he said, adding that there are other construction projects happening throughout Cocoa Beach.

Still, Celsor has his doubts.

"If we get real storms coming in here, this has the potential of affecting everybody in this area."