Revitalization plan would declare downtown a slum - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Revitalization plan would declare downtown a slum

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

The Heritage Trail Plan has a goal to revitalize the Foote and Cleaborne Homes housing projects. But, the plan will affect all of downtown, and some stakeholders say it's not the best thing for the community.

Over the last decade downtown Memphis has seen a boom of housing and art and office space, including million dollars homes, mixed with apartments, condos and commercial space.

But an upcoming vote by a City-County Board would declare the entire downtown a menace to the rest of the city.

"It's the way they're going about it, by declaring all of downtown a slum and a blighted area in order to get the money," says resident Terry Woodard.

The declaration would be part of an effort to secure a federal grant.

Woodard, an artist and developer, is against the Heritage Trails Plan.

The plan predicts what would be generated in taxes downtown over the next 20 years and borrows against it to revitalize downtown housing projects Foote and Cleaborne Homes.

For those 20 years, downtown would be considered a slum, and a master developer would be in charge of approving any and all development.

"All the other developers would have to go through that master developer, which in my opinion is a very scary thing because the beauty of South Main and the beauty of what goes on downtown is all the different developers have different visions.  We have a very diverse downtown because of that," says Woodard.

During those 20 years, it's estimated about $100 million will be generated in taxes, to be borrowed against. It would be used primarily for public housing.

Councilman Lee Harris is taking a wait and see approach, "That's a serious number.  There's a whole bunch of projects across the city that could use some of that money.  So it's got me a little bit fearful."

The City-County board was supposed to vote on the plan on Thursday. But, because of the vocal opposition, it's been delayed.

Eventually, the plan would have to be voted on by the City Council and County Commission.

The meeting is at City Hall Thursday at 8:30 am.

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