Mud Island developers face uphill battle - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Mud Island developers face uphill battle

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    Friday, October 4 2013 3:43 PM EDT2013-10-04 19:43:45 GMT
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MUD ISLAND, Tenn. (FOX13) -

Two developers could face some tough sledding when they appear before city administration officials on Thursday.

They want to secure a "tax freeze" so they can build more apartments on Mud Island. Three years ago Keith and David Grant built the Grand Island Apartments and they'd like to take a tract of land just yards away up the same street to build another complex.

But Mud Island homeowners are saying for right now is "enough is enough" when it comes to apartments at the scenic location.

Success often breeds the desire to savor it again. The Grant Brothers' Grand Island complex has been hailed with praise as one of the finest luxury apartment locations in the city. So you can't blame them for wanting to follow their Mud Island success with another construction project on the island, but not without asking the city for a little help.

At first glance it's just a grassy field. But, to construction developers, where it's located gives them plenty of  reason to salivate over the prospects of what it could be.

"There will be development on this spot of land," said Councilman Lee Harris. "This is the last piece of unimproved land on Mud Island that can be developed."

But many Mud Island residents are worried about who would develop the valued property and most importantly for what purpose? That answer should come on Thursday when the builders of the Grand Island Apartments hope to up the ante and boost profits by seeking to secure a $2.3 million tax freeze from the city and Shelby County to construct Harbor Island, another apartment complex.

Reactions from two noted Mud Island residents, who just happen to be city council members, were not particularly enthusiastic to say the least.

"We have many apartments on Mud Island," said Councilman Myron Lowery. "Many. We don't need anymore. What we need are single family homes and more condominiums. We want people who have an invested state in where they live and long term livability."

"We think we got options," Councilman Harris added. "There's a lot of options on Mud Island. The highest and best use usually is owner occupied."

However, it won't be the council, yet, the Grant Brothers of Collierville will try to sway at a downtown meeting. It's the Center City Revenue Finance Corporation who will hear the initial presentation. It comes at a time when the city and the council have already taken public heat for financing other private construction projects, including the Chisca Hotel renovation and a commitment to come up with $15 million in grant money to solidify the $175 million Sears Crosstown revitalization.

Since the business incentives' door is already wide open, why not  encourage more developers seeking government tax breaks to walk through it?

"It's different because those areas were blighted and there wasn't any development going on for years and years and years," Councilman Harris said. "The Downtown Memphis Commission has demonstrated they have a high threshold before they make subsidy decisions."

"This is one project that probably does not need a tax freeze," Councilman Lowery added. "If you can't build on Mud Island and make money, where can you build in this city?"

Dress for success Grant Brothers and be sure to bring your hard hats.

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