Downtown Redevelopment Project Ahead of Schedule

Demolition of old buildings north of Sweetbay should begin Aug. 2.

On Tuesday, contractors are expected to begin demolishing the old shopping center buildings north of as part of the downtown redevelopment project, which will give the City a true downtown area.

It’s the next step in the three-phase plan, which began in July of last year.

At a City Council meeting July 19, Mike Vlass, head of Vlass Temple Terrace LLC, told the Council that the project is ahead of schedule. Although the Vlass group had two years to complete Phase 1, it is already nearly done, he said.

Sweetbay has been renovated at a cost of $3.5 million, and the buildings on both sides also have a new look. They house , clothing store and , which moved from their former locations in the shopping center. The new post office on Chicago Avenue is now open. It also relocated from within the shopping center. The drop box is located on the western corner of the property.

“If you come in the main drive that goes towards Sweetbay off of 56th, it is on the left-hand side,” Vlass said.

Phase 2 will begin with Tuesday’s demolition of the old post office and Sally's Beauty Supply locations, which should take all day and maybe even through the week, said Mike Dunn, the City’s public information officer.

The buildings have asbestos in them, Vlass told the Council.

“They are totally unsalvageable buildings,” he said. “They have no value for us.”

The City’s Main Street will run from Chicago Avenue north to Bullard Parkway.

The buildings that will be demolished beginning Tuesday will make way for multi-family residential spaces. There will be four, four-story buildings with gated access. More than 200 apartments will be constructed beginning in early January, Vlass said.

Between Main Street and a portion of the residential units will be a 1-acre park with a gazebo.

“We will complete Main Street and the park by Thanksgiving of this year,” said Mike Lant of M.J. Lant Developments, a member of the Vlass team.

“This Thanksgiving, please be around,” Vlass added. “We’re going to have a big party.”

Plans also call for a library to the south of ’s current location and a Performing Arts Center south of that. Lant said an acoustical designer is helping with the plans of the center, and construction could begin next spring.

A “food village” will be located between Chicago Avenue and Riverhills Drive with fast food, casual dining and fine dining.

Burger King can stay in its current location until Aug. 1, 2013, but it is prepared to move to the food village, Vlass said.

As far as new businesses moving into the complex, Vlass said Mark Sneed, who is associated with Vlass Temple Terrace, is talking to potential tenants.

“We are talking to several coffee shops, some of which you’ve probably heard the name of in the past,” Vlass said. “We’re talking to several banks. We’re talking to several other fine dining restaurants, fast casual restaurants.”


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