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Groundbreaking ceremony for SoMo Walls signals a new beginning for the South Side

Local officials and leaders take part in ceremonial groundbreaking with SoMo Walls developer Bugra Demirel
Brett Rutherford
/
WFSU Public Media
Local officials and leaders take part in ceremonial groundbreaking with SoMo Walls developer Bugra Demirel

SoMo Walls, a new commercial development on South Monroe, is one step closer to becoming a reality after a ceremonial groundbreaking took place Thursday.

County Commissioner Bill Proctor donned a hard hat for the ceremony. “I view this as the first domino to fall,” he said after the event.

Proctor said the project signals a new beginning for the South Side. He envisions more new buildings throughout the neighborhood to welcome new businesses to the area, and he believes a balance can be found to protect the businesses that are currently there.

 County Commissioner Bill Proctor speaks at ceremonial groundbreaking for SoMo Walls
Brett Rutherford
/
WFSU Public Media
County Commissioner Bill Proctor speaks at ceremonial groundbreaking for SoMo Walls

“And hopefully, the falling dominoes of redevelopment, revitalization in this South Monroe corridor will give a whole lot of energy to the area.”

The changes happening in the South Monroe corridor have caused some tension regarding the impact new development is having on existing businesses and residents. One block away from SoMo Walls is Kosta’s Subs & Salads, a restaurant that has been in the neighborhood for 30 years and is being forced to move at the end of the month.

“That's why my emphasis on maintaining the balance of quote, indigenous businesses,” said Proctor. “Families that have invested here for two generations or more, that we're finding a balance and not running over bullying, and brand-new money coming to be the new lord and God over all.”

The SoMo Walls developers made a commitment that 35% of the businesses at SoMo Walls will be women or minority-owned.

“Without the businesses, without the minority inclusion goals in place, it is not optimal,” said project developer Bugra Demirel. “It's not a true inclusion. It's not true community engagement.”

So far, the only known tenant at SoMo Walls is Burn Boot Camp, a gym geared towards women with locations throughout the Southeast. He didn’t say who all the tenants at SoMo Walls will be but did say his team is currently working with a coffee shop, a restaurant, and another food and beverage concept to fill out the space.