A building that had become an eyesore greeting visitors and residents driving into Plaquemine was reduced to a pile of rubble on Wednesday.

The former Kyle's Express gas station — which has sat vacant for the past three years and fell into disrepair — was demolished as part of a broader effort to clean up the city's downtown.

Mayor Edwin M. "Ed" Reeves Jr. said residents have long complained about the building along La. 1, with those concerns mainly touching on its state of disrepair. Its boarded-up windows and weathered paint also blocked the view to the Depot Market from the street.

“We have definitely changed the landscape of Plaquemine this morning,” Reeves said. "I’ve been looking at making this building come down for 20 years."

The city bought the building earlier this year for $100,000, following months of negotiations with the former owner who initially wanted five times that amount. City officials have yet to decide how that property will be used.

Reeve's administration has increased its focus on citing residents and businesses in the area for keeping stacks of tires or rusting vehicles in yards and other violations. And, as part of the cleanup campaign, the city is issuing condemnation notices for dilapidated homes.

“It’s badly needed," Reeves said. "It needed cleaning up."

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Construction on several projects downtown has been underway in recent months, including a $7.5 million community center, walking trails along the levees and a new park.

Those efforts received a boost earlier this month when the Louisiana Office of Cultural Development’s Division of Historic Preservation gifted the city with a $100,000 grant through a program intended to help cities restore historic commercial buildings.

Plaquemine also received a $1 million grant from the state's Capital Region Planning Commission a few months ago. Reeves said that money will expedite the city's projects.

He expects those will be finished within the next two years.

Email Youssef Rddad at yrddad@theadvocate.com.