LONDON, ONT. -- It was being billed as the 'largest one-day concrete pour in Southwestern Ontario history'.

At the site of the former Alma College in downtown St. Thomas, Ont., Sierra Construction was laying the foundation for the first of three future apartment buildings. 

"Today we are doing our structural raft slab," says Adam Morris, project manager for Sierra Construction. 

"We have 2700 cubic meters of concrete today, and there is 300 tons of rebar in there," as he pointed down below to the massive hole in the ground. 

Twenty-five trucks per hour came in and out of the site off Ross St. as they poured the 1.6-metre foundation for Phase One of the Alma College Square development. 

Drawing concrete from London, Woodstock and St. Thomas plants, they had 54 trucks dedicated to the daylong pour.

For Patriot Properties developer, Michael Loewith, it's been a long, hard fight over two years to get to this crucial day. 

"This is Phase One which has 156 units in this building with amenities on the rooftop looking over the ravine," says Loewith. 

"It’s going to be pretty special and the grounds will be the best in the area by far. There was bumps along the way, but we believed in the project and the community did and that's why we are here today."

Over the course of the day dozens showed up to witness the historic event. Among them were Bill and Murray Vanzanten of Port Stanley. They both have reserved rental units online and wanted to see the construction on what will be their future home. 

"We want to stay in this area, and this looks like a nice building," says Bill Vanzanten. 

"It has nice amenities, walking distance to downtown and Pinafore Park. Those are all things that appeal to us."

Police were called at 4 a.m. Saturday for a noise complaint as work began sunrise, indicating that not all neighbours are big fans of the development. 

"It woke me up at 5 a.m.," says Mike Turcotte, who moved onto McIntyre Street 12 years ago. "It rained overnight so at 5 a.m. they were out here with the big dozer and my house was shaking."

Turcotte says while he doesn't really want this in his backyard, he understands there is no stopping progress. 

"Could be worse, could be something else being built here and I'm glad the owner decided to keep some of the history."

There was a bit of conflict between neighbours and workers when parking started to increase along Moore St, but most of those involved parked at a nearby church on Wellington St. 

"It’s unfortunate in building something that we are doing is going to create dust and noise," says Loewith. "It creates inconvenience for the day, but hopefully we’ll have 100 years of people living here and enjoying their life and the property. So I think one day of aggravation is worth it."

Loewith adds that after Saturday the project will really start to come together. Walls will be going up next week and by December, the entire eight storey structure with windows and doors will be in place. 

Tenants could move in as early as late 2021. 

"This is going to be a landmark property once again," says Loewith.