By Brett Ragsdale
I hope everyone knows by now what is happening at the fairgrounds site. No, I’m not talking about all the buildings being torn down around the Liberty Bowl nor the asphalt being ground into a pulp around the Coliseum. I’m referring to what seems now to be a small, 15 acre tract on East Parkway just south of Fairview Middle School. This is the site of the new Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center.
As one of the architects involved in the design of this exciting project, I’ve been anticipating the grand opening for more than four years. I will have to wait a little longer but it’s clear now that this is a reality and there is a schedule for completion. When you ask? I know that’s the question on many neighbors’ minds because they’ve been asking me for a couple of years now. I can’t tell you the exact date, but I can give you a ballpark of when we can all come together to celebrate this wonderful gift the Salvation Army is providing to our local communities and to all of Memphis.
If you’ve driven or walked by recently you’ve seen dirt being moved and shifted from place to place. They have completed the building pad that stretches along the east property line almost 450 feet. The foundations are being poured with steel reinforcement sticking out to tie into the future walls. Keep an eye out in the next couple of weeks when the most exciting part begins, in my opinion. You’ll start to see slender fingers poking out of the ground about 16-25 feet in the air. These are the steel columns. Soon after that, beams will begin to be bolted to the top of these columns forming “boxes” stacked side by side. Next the joists will be placed that support the roof and the future spaces will begin to take shape. Obvious progress may appear to slow down after this, but I assure you, there are things happening. The exterior materials and interior finishes will begin to be installed and eventually you will see a building appear.
When writing those 10 sentences, I get the feeling we all might be shooting a basketball or jumping onto the 18 foot spiral water slide in the next few months. While a project of this size with so many great functions does take time, it’s not years away anymore. We expect the grand opening to be sometime next fall, just a little over a year away. I plan to keep you all updated on the progress and give you more details over the next year.