The demolition project can be followed online at http://earthcam.net/projects/arcadis
A key project in the renaissance of Brainerd Road started Tuesday with plans to turn vacant buildings and concrete into green space and trails.
The 8-acre tract near Chattanooga Airport holds nearly a half dozen buildings mostly making up a pair of former auto dealerships.
By the end of the summer, the cleared site will run from the Brainerd Levee to Jubilee Drive along Brainerd Road, though a few ongoing businesses will remain as will the city's recycling center.
Also, the work bolsters airport safety by extending the landlocked airport's runway protection zone, officials said. In fact, the airport provided the $4.3 million in funding for the project, mostly from Federal Aviation Administration money.
The airport paid $3.69 million for the two former car lots. The demolition cost is $673,395, according to the airport. The entire FAA grant was for $4.7 million and included additional adjacent properties that have not yet been purchased.
Airport chief Terry Hart said the money for the project was already earmarked well before the federal sequestration of funds which began last month.
"It helps the city in the movement of stormwater," added Hart, citing the flooding that occurs in that area of Brainerd Road.
Dan Jacobson, chairman of the Airport's board, said Lovell Field officials worked with the city to come up with a plan when the property became available for purchase.
He said the work meets the area's need for green space and helps mitigate flooding.
The MidTown Council of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce has announced plans to rebrand the Brainerd Road area from the Missionary Ridge tunnel to Chattanooga Airport. The Chamber group wants to make Brainerd Road more pedestrian- and shopper-friendly and spur added business. The park is seen as helping in that task.
City Councilwoman Carol Berz said the park has been five years in the making.
"It's finally happening," she said.
City Councilman Russell Gilbert said businesses in the area were worried about the flooding.
"This is an opportunity to curb some of it," he said.
Some of the materials coming from the demolition of the buildings will be recycled, crushed and used for the walking paths on site, officials said. Steve Williams Construction of Cleveland, Tenn., is handling the demolition work.