The largest neighborhood revitalization project in the country is becoming the "model" for re-development across the nation. Construction on Overton Park is well ahead of schedule, and the man behind the project is taking time out to advise other cities.
Delbert McDougal is being asked to help other cities renovate their dilapidated neighborhoods. On the heels of two years of rapid success.
Just two years ago Overton was rundown, abandoned and many houses were boarded up. Since then, bulldozers came in and demolished hundreds of rundown homes and structures. And now the rebuilding is well underway.
"We only wound up with probably four issues, out of 900 structures. I think the biggest issues quite frankly has been dealing with the demolition and getting all of the old utilities out of the way to make way for new underground utility. So I think just the project itself in terms of infrastructure has been the biggest challenge and that's something you wouldn't expect," said Delbert McDougal.
McDougal says the new construction phase is trucking right along. "The Center that is well under construction. We've got a parking garage that'll be complete by the 2nd of August. And the apartments are framing up around it. City Bank is well under construction and that project is coming along."
Apartments are flying up, eventually there will be condominiums, townhouses, single family and multi-family homes in that area. Creating housing for about 7,000 people. But don't forget the retail shopping that's to come, as well as several restaurants and a four star hotel.
"We've got well over $100 million of construction going on with almost that much to follow over the next 90 days. We're way ahead of schedule. We're now anticipating that we will be out of the Overton project by the end of 2006. We'd originally talked about 2008, to early 2009. So we're two years ahead of schedule."
At this time McDougal won't say which restaurants or hotels are coming, but he did say now that the project is coming to life, he's getting calls from businesses that want to be in the area everyday. McDougal says the effects this project will have on downtown are already surfacing as new business is moving in.