Crews started work Thursday on the Mercado. It’s a project some are saying will change the look and feel of one of San Diego's most historic neighborhoods.
"It's excitement beyond words," said Robert Chavez, a redevelopment coordinator for the city. "It's been so many years the city, the community of Barrio Logan, and the redevelopment agency has been waiting for this project to come to fruition."
That $80 million project will sit on what's been a 6.8-acre empty lot for years.
The finished product will include a four-story building with more than 90 affordable housing family units, retail space, and a 35,000 square foot grocery store across the street.
"I think it’s great." said Chris Vattikha, who helps run the Ponderosa Deli on the other side of the street.
His family has been making sandwiches there for 27 years, and watched the neighborhood change.
"Back then there used to be a lot of gangs out here, my dad used to tell me," said Vattikha. "Year by year, I notice it's getting better and better."
The Mercado is the flagship piece of a larger 133-acre redevelopment plan for Barrio Logan.
At a time when cities around the state are fighting to keep their redevelopment money, Robert Chavez says this project is the perfect example of the importance of those dollars.
"This is going to generate significant property taxes and sales taxes for us. It's going to generate jobs," he said. "Especially in this economic climate that we have today, it is so important of a project."
Construction is expected to be completed by the fall of 2012.