Edina city officials and developers broke ground Wednesday on a major residential and retail project they hope will breathe new life into the 50th and France commercial district.

Construction on the Nolan Mains project, formerly known as the Edina Collaborative, began this year behind a shopping strip on the northwest corner of 50th Street and France Avenue.

The six-story complex will include 100 luxury apartments, street-level retail space and underground parking — all centered around a 5,000-square-foot public plaza — and is expected to open sometime in fall 2019.

About two dozen people, including City Council members, developers, architects and other stakeholders, gathered Wednesday at the construction site for the groundbreaking.

"Today marks the start of a new era for 50th and France," said Pete Deanovic of Buhl Investors, who codeveloped the project with Brent Rogers of Saturday Properties. "It is not our own vision alone, but truly a collective approach."

The City Council approved the Nolan Mains project almost exactly one year ago, praising its focus on pedestrian access while still adding commercial space.

The city's Housing and Redevelopment Authority, which owned lots and an aging parking structure on the site, partnered with Buhl and Saturday on the project and sold them the properties.

Construction crews have already begun tearing down the parking structure, where Deanovic, Rogers and others stood on the rubble and posed Wednesday with gilded sledgehammers.

Nolan Mains was named after Leo Nolan, a business owner in the district whose Nolan's Golf Terrace Cafe stood near the site decades ago. Deanovic and Rogers, who live in Edina, thanked the city for helping them collect public feedback and fine-tune the project design.

"We believe that it is a promising future and that we collectively can have a hand in bringing that local retail charm with a national appeal," Deanovic said.

Mayor James Hovland called the developers "wonderful partners" and voiced enthusiasm for the project.

"This is their legacy," Hovland said of Deanovic and Rogers. "We couldn't be more pleased to be working with them to see this revolution take place."

Meanwhile, the city-owned parking ramp on the north side of Market Street (formerly W. 49-1/2 Street) is expanding to four stories with street-level retail. The $10.7 million city-funded project is expected to open in September.

Miguel Otárola • 612-673-4753