COLORADO AVE — Construction of the future site of an Expo Light Rail stop at Colorado Avenue and Fourth Street is still years away, but in recent days bulldozers have been rolling at the train stop’s planned home, as workers continue to demolish the structure that once housed a Sears Auto Center.

The location is the planned end-point for a rail project transportation officials say will link Santa Monica to Downtown Los Angeles by 2015.

The building that is being destroyed to make room for the rail station was more than 40 years old, so the Landmarks Commission had to sign off on its demolition. Though it was listed on the Historic Resources Inventory, it was not deemed a landmark.

“There was nothing significant about it. It was just old,” said Nina Fresco, a Landmarks Commissioner.

The building, she said, had been a grocery store before being renovated into an auto center, and it had been significantly altered in the process, diminishing its importance.

“It was really unrecognizable except for the pylon,” she said.

City Hall’s economic development manager, Miriam Mack, agreed the structure did not warrant preservation.

“Its demolition is not significant to the historic resources of the city of Santa Monica,” she said.

The Sears department store a block away, which won’t be affected by the rail line’s construction, though, is on City Hall’s registry of landmarks.

A contractor to build the second phase of the Expo project, which will extend the rail line from the first phase terminus in Culver City to Santa Monica’s Civic Center, is expected to be picked at the end of the year.

But there could be delays in the rail line’s construction timeline.

The Expo’s board approved the environmental review of the project’s second phase in February but will have to defend the document in court after a coalition of Westside homeowner groups filed a civil suit alleging the study was inadequate.

nickt@smdp.com