MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The highly anticipated Union Row redevelopment project is becoming more of a reality.
This week, crews started demolishing old and vacant buildings on the site at Union Avenue and Danny Thomas Boulevard, which will become home to a project that could transform downtown.
At nearly $1 billion, Union Row is the largest redevelopment project in Memphis history.
Memphian Willis Harris looks forward to all the possibilities it could bring.
“There are so many people walking around here without jobs,” said Harris. “It’s going to eliminate an eyesore from the neighborhood and then it’s going to create some jobs. I mean that’s a positive all the way around.”
Union Row developer J. Kevin Adams says the first phase of the project will now be twice as large as originally planned.
It will span 21 acres instead of 11; it includes two hotels instead of one; and it includes 300 more apartment units.
A grocery store will still anchor the site, but new plans call for a 117,000-square-feet innovation center.
“Innovation space. In other words, it’s made for meetings, public meetings, like what you would have over at the University of Memphis technology center,” said Adams.
Adams pledged to give women- and minority-owned businesses at least 28 percent of the project contracts -- worth about $210 million.
B&W Excavation, the company chosen to do most of the demolition work, is one such example.
Harris hopes everyone will benefit in the years to come.
"If it's going to create jobs, then that's good for the community," said Harris. "That's good for a lot of people."
Construction is expected to start next summer. It’s expected to take 20 to 24 months.