NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Demolition crews tore down the first building Monday to make way for the new Music City Center.
It will likely be months before all the space is cleared so construction on the $585 million facility can begin.
At 10 a.m. sharp, Marty Dickens, chair of the Music City Convention Center Authority, a group appointed by Nashville Mayor Karl Dean to oversee the center's construction and to eventually run the facility, kicked off the demolition with a phrase right out of the auto racing world.
"Gentlemen, start your engines," he belted through a bullhorn. "Let the demolition of the Music City Center's site begin… 2013 here we come."
Immediately following his words, two huge excavators began crunching the old Labor Source of Tennessee building at 7th Avenue and Shirley Street as dozens watched.
Mike Dotson, owner of Labor Source, was among the onlookers.
"Those first two that hit the roof and pulled the side down...that kind of went ouch," Dotson told News 2 with a slight laugh.
Dotson relocated his business to Dickerson Road, just off Hart Lane, less than a month ago.
When asked if the relocation process was just as painful as seeing the first blows of demolition Monday, he said while he wasn't ready to "do it", Metro Government was fair.
"I don't have anything against the convention center I was just not ready to go yet, but it worked out," he added.
While Dotson agreed to go, other businesses in the proposed center's footprint have not.
"We own 10 sites right now, so we are just going to methodically go through the sites that we currently own and abate the buildings, [or take out hazardous materials], and then start moving through demolition," Larry Atema, senior project manager for the Music City Center, explained.
When asked why start now, when some properties are still fighting the price the city offered them, Atema said, "We are very respectful of the courts but those sites which we own and have made all the legal notices required, we are just getting them cleared, so that when we get the whole site, we can begin work."
Atema expects actual construction on the Music City Center to begin 60 to 90 days after the final demolition.
When complete, the 1.2 million-square-foot facility will sit just south of the Sommet Center in an area bordered by Demonbreun Street to the north, Korean Veterans Parkway to the south, 5th Avenue to the east and 8th Avenue to the west and replace the current convention center on Lower Broadway.