Housing Authority hosts demolition ceremony to make way for new development

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The Foote Homes public housing complex in South Memphis is one step closer to coming down.

On Tuesday, the Memphis Housing Authority hosted a demolition ceremony for the city’s last remaining housing project.

Making it this far has been a process,.

Funding to rehabilitate the area had to be secured and demolition was delayed because potentially dangerous chemicals were detected in the ground.

For those who lived here, the demolition is "bittersweet."

"We was a family here," said Audrey Overton.

Overton lived at Foote Homes with her children for five years.

She said most of the people who lived there were good neighbors, but there were people who often brought problems into the apartment community.

"I’m kinda happy to see it go because of the crime that persisted over here."

"This marks the ending of a chapter but it doesn’t mark the ending of a book," said Memphis City Councilman Berlin Boyd when he spoke to a crowd that gathered.

City leaders talked about Foote Homes’ past and what’s to come.

Between a large federal grant and other contributions, more than $400 million will go into a new housing development.

While rebuilding proper housing is a priority, providing a grocery store and other things to the community is important.

"We’ve acquired options on two of the vacant schools in this community— Georgia Elementary and Martin Luther King Transitional Center. We’re looking to see if those are options for non-profits and potentially an early childhood center. Just really want to take blighted spaces in this community and activate them," said Paul Young, the director of Housing and Community Development.

Overton is looking forward to the future.

"I want to see it redeveloped. I want to see new people. I want to see maybe a grocery store, something! Parking! There's not a lot of parking. Maybe a parking garage, ya know just fix it up," she said.

MHA said they are removing outside fixtures on the buildings and plan to start demolition soon.

The project is set to be complete by 2021.