MEMPHIS, Tenn.-- Finally after five years of work, back and forth and legal battles, the sound of heavy equipment is filling the inside of the massive, moth-balled Raleigh Springs Mall.
Demolition has begun to make way for a new community space.
Plans have gone through two mayors and two city councils. Interior demolition started Tuesday on the inside of the mall. There is currently a fence is now up, getting ready for what’s to come.
It certainly didn’t happen overnight but work has started to transform the eyesore into a new community gathering place.
"It is so strategic now. They go in and remove the metal, they go in and remove the steel beams to make it fall clean to make it so it’s easily picked up and disposed of," explained Memphis city councilman Bill Morrison on Thursday.
Sure you can’t see it now but once the inside work is done, the building will be demolished, making way for the $31 million project including a skate park, police precinct, library, one-mile walking trail and outdoor space.
"I think that’s wonderful. I don’t even know how long this mall has been empty—to have something to look forward to would be good for the environment and for the kids in this area," said Janna Warren, who was in Raleigh on Thursday.
Morrison has stuck by the project, he’s thankful other leaders have too.
"The civic pride that comes with this, the renewal of energy inside a community. You’ve got this huge renaissance downtown and midtown and Cooper Young and the tremendous activity in Whitehaven with Elvis Presley, a lot of exciting things so it’s nice to see Raleigh kind of coming alive and getting some infusion," he explained.
Morrison believes this infusion will help battle some of the problems we unfortunately talk about everyday here in Memphis, like crime.
"We can solve them! And this is what really helps us solve it is really turning around communities," he said.
While the city works to revive Raleigh, Morrison says money put into the project, stays here in the Mid-South.
"Two thirds of this contract is minority participation and that’s really keeping the tax dollars home."
Morrison believes outside demolition should happen in the next few weeks. The goal is to have the project complete by September 2018.