(Memphis) Brick by brick, Memphis Public Works crews knocked away the old Walter Simmons public housing complex at Knight Arnold and Lamar Wednesday.
“It's been tough to look at every day,” Pastor James Henderson, who is with the neighboring Abundant Life Fellowship Church, said.
For ten years, the 51-building housing complex owned by the City of Memphis sat dormant.
“The lack of upkeep over there it’s been depressing,” said Henderson.
Graffiti marks all over the outside, inside there’s not much but peeled paint.
“People walk into a community where there's crime and there's blight and they think no one cares or is watching. They set up crime havens where there is blight,” said Director of Public Works Dwan Gilliom.
Henderson has pastored the church across the street for nearly two decades and says the complex is much more than an eyesore.
“A lack of progress, not a whole lot activity it makes the area dormant,” said Henderson.
That is until now. The city is spending 1.7 million dollars to knock down the whole complex and rebuild.
Gilliom says when the dust settles, the 34 acre property will be converted into office space for the city.
Gilliom says because of funding, the project was always pushed back. But the city is now making it a priority.
Henderson is hopeful this new start brings other changes to the community.
“Whenever you restore, remodel or rebuild, often times you have to destroy to rebuild. We're looking forward to that,” said Henderson.
The city expects the lot to be clear over the next 90 days.