Commission approves $5M for Sears Crosstown project - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Commission approves $5M for Sears Crosstown project

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

Five million in public dollars is going toward a for-profit project.

The Shelby County Commission approved the $5 million gift to the Sears Crosstown project.

MORE: Cohen to help Memphis find $15M for Sears Crosstown
MORE: Sears Crosstown project facing major snag

The Sears building, which has been vacant for about 30 years, is 1.5-million in square feet, vacant and right in the middle of town.

The crosstown project aims to convert the eyesore into a vertical neighborhood that would be a mix of retail and residential, with a total project cost of about $175 million.

MORE: After years of dormancy, Crosstown building looks to future
MORE: Reviving Sears Crosstown into a vertical community

On Monday the developer asked for a $5 million gift from the county commission. The project has already received $15 million from the city of Memphis and a 20 year reduction in taxes.

There were about two hours of debate on the issue. The concern was if the gift would be used properly. All the money must be used for infrastructure, something for the public good.
 
"Supporting economic development and funding it are two different things," said Commissioner Mike Ritz. "This is a private development. This does not represent any fiscal restraint whatsoever."

"It is a neighborhood that would greatly benefit from some very judicious blight reduction," added Commissioner Heidi Shafer. "The county does not have the money. The taxpayer does not have the money to redo Sears Crosstown by ourselves. We don't have the money."

The county commission also voted in favor of supporting the workers locked out of the Kellogg's plant. The resolution urges the company and the union to come to an agreement.

Also this afternoon, a no vote on a referendum that would ask the voters if they want to remove the residency requirement for county workers, but it was just a procedural vote. The final vote will be taken at the next commission meeting.

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