Demolition of the former Fortuna Inn and Suites, 333 W. Drachman St., began Thursday after a ceremony that included Pima Community College educators and staff members, employers and other members of the community.

PCC is demolishing a former motel to make way for the downtown campus’ new Center of Excellence in Applied Technology.

Pima Community College bought the Fortuna Inn and Suites, on West Drachman Street and North 11th Street, which is along the western side of the campus, for $1.25 million in January.

The old motel is being razed and the site prepared for the new technology center.

Demolition will take about three weeks.

The land will be prepared while the college seeks an architect.

Groundbreaking for the construction project is expected in early 2019, according to a PCC news release.

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The Applied Technology Center will include a manufacturing floor, maker space, automotive and diesel technology labs, and CAD and robotics labs.

The center will allow the college to expand critical programs in manufacturing, welding and automotive technology and add new programs as needed.

The college has also bought other nearby properties, including the Tucson Inn, 127 W. Drachman St., for $1 million in January, and is in the process of closing on the purchase of the Frontier Motel, 227 W. Drachman St., for $1.35 million.

The college is evaluating the Tucson Inn property for future development possibilities, and the Frontier property will be evaluated once the sale is complete.