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The $1 billion redevelopment project aimed at turning Jordan Downs in Watts into a national model for public housing broke ground on Monday.

The current Jordan Downs complex, which houses thousands of low-income residents, is set to be replaced by a new, mixed-use development. The project’s primary phase will build 115 affordable apartment units, and is expected to take about a year to complete.

The construction site also includes a swath of land being cleaned up after the city found lead, arsenic, cadmium and polychlorinated biphenyls in the ground in 2014. Since then, activists have called for additional soil testing and cleanup to take place as the redevelopment project moves forward.

At a groundbreaking ceremony Monday afternoon, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti joined City Councilman Joe Buscaino to kick off the construction, calling it “a new chapter in the history of Watts.”

“This redevelopment will create good affordable housing for people who need it, attract new investment, and deliver clean, safe places for our children to grow,” Garcetti said in…