Jaclyn Kelley / Eyewitness News
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METAIRIE, La. -- For residents in Old Metairie, a construction crew was a welcomed sight Monday.

This week crews demolished the former KFC building, which has sat empty for nearly two decades.

In the 1990s, parish officials shut down the KFC after they discovered the property's soil was contaminated by dry cleaning companies who occupied the building before the fast-food chain.

While a long time coming, the demolition of the old building is only one of many changes coming to the retail hub at the corner of Focis Street and Metairie Road.

'It's been empty for a while, so it's nice to see something happening,' says Steven Bel, the President of the Metairie Road Business Association.

Across the street, Allen Hailey has been cutting hair at his barber shop for nearly 60 years. He said he is happy to see that the old building has finally been torn down to make room for a new business.

'More businesses are better for everyone, more jobs,' Hailey said. 'It makes the community even more valuable because everything is here within walking distance.'

Joe Caldarera, the owner of the property, said once demolition is complete he plans to build a commercial retail space in its place.

That is just one of two properties he owns on Metairie Road. Across the tracks, Caldarera is currently building a men's clothing store.

Metairie Road will also be home to a Brocato's Po-boy shop and a Puccino's coffee house.

Bel said that even with the addition of these new businesses on Metairie Road, there is still room to grow.

'They have a lot of new people coming in,' Bel says. 'We have a lot of empty property, vacant property and also vacant land.'

But in the future, Bel said residents could see more 'big business' move in.

'Most of the ones that are vacant are large pieces of property, so it's gonna take a large investment from someone to come in and develop it,' Bel says.

Caldarera would not say what tenant will be moving into the new retail space replacing the KFC, but he did say the men's clothing store is expected to open by Christmas.

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