KINGSPORT, TN (WJHL) – Kingsport housing leaders took a big step forward in their plans to revamp public housing to affordable housing in the city.

Wednesday morning, the Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment Authority held a "demolition ceremony" for Robert E. Lee Apartments.

The plan is to tear down the existing Lee Apartment units and build new ones in their place.

"The apartments have reached deterioration, and so now it’s time to raise those and bring back something new that will be able to integrate into the community a mixed income development," said KHRA’s Maria Catron.

City and state leaders joined housing officials at the demolition ceremony, as well as former residents eager to see the new development.

"I would like to come back into one of the houses. The plan that they got for the houses is amazing," said Robert Monk, who used to live at Lee Apartments.

"We’re looking at a variation of town homes and duplexes. Think about building a community and not so much a development," Catron said.

The plan calls for tearing down the existing 128 units, and building new ones in their place, under a new name unveiled at the ceremony – "The Grove at Poplar Dale."

"The first phase of the Grove at Poplar Dale will look to be about approximately 60 units, and then there will be phases two and three to follow after that completion, with approximately another 60 in both of those phases," said Catron.

The project, housing officials say, is much needed for the community with a purpose that’s two-fold.

"To be able to integrate not only the new construction but also services for the families in the community," Catron said.

Housing officials anticipate the demolition of Lee Apartments to start this summer, and construction on the new units should begin in 2020.

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