The demolition of a massive Westside apartment complex brings hope of new development.
And a former presidential candidate could play a role.
The Metro West Apartments sit across the street from the Hollywood Casino. While the casino has represented hope of a revitalized Westside, the sprawling apartment complex has been a sad symbol of the area's troubles.
Bite by destructive bite, heavy equipment eats away at buildings that have stood for generations.
And John Fleshman couldn't be happier.
"There was two happy days,” the Franklin Township Trustee says. “The day these were put up, and the day these are coming down."
He says Metro West Apartments' best days are long behind it.
"I think at one time it was the largest east of the Mississippi. And back in the heyday, I believe someone said there was more than 1600 units here. And there's approximately 300 units being occupied at this time."
The massive complex was recently purchased by Havenwood Townhomes, an affiliate of The Romney Group, run by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his son Josh.
The plan is to demolish about half of the existing units. Those remaining will be renovated and turned into 820 townhomes and 36 apartments. Current residents will be given the option of moving into renovated units.
Fleshman calls the removal and overhaul of the blighted complex a major boost to the Westside.
"It's going to be great for the area. It's going to bring new hope for the area."
And to those who say the casino has failed to reignite interest in the area, Fleshman says wait and see.
"This never went away overnight. It's not going to come back overnight. So, as you can see behind me, it's going to be a brick at a time in order to bring it back. But investments are being poured into this area. And we're going see more and more."
The units along Georgesville Road facing are slated for demolition next. That land will be sold off for commercial use.
The land holding the units demolished Friday is being donated to Franklin Township to become a park.
It's expected to take about two years before the project is complete.