Food desert no more: Grocery, retail and jobs on the way to Binghampton Gateway

Construction officially got underway on the Binghampton Gateway Center on February 22. 

The $6.8 million project will create 55 jobs and will bring a new Save-A-Lot grocery store, Dollar Tree store, and other retail to a formerly blighted area classified as a food desert, with a lack of healthy food options for nearby residents.
 
“This project is interesting because it’s a big, vacant piece of property that is very, very visible,” said John Lawrence, EDGE Manager of Strategic Economic Development Planning.

“There are 8,000 people that live within walking distance of this location, and there are about 3,000 homes in this general neighborhood. So access to the grocery and Dollar Tree are big benefits, and there will be 7,000 square feet of other retail associated with this project.”
 
Lawrence hopes the Binghampton Gateway Center will help to enliven the area and connect East Memphis to Midtown through the Tillman/Broad Avenue corridor.

“We’re excited about it because it serves the neighborhood, and we think it could serve a much larger geography due to the amount of traffic going through there,” said Lawrence.
 
The project was the first recipient of the EDGE Community Builder Payment-in-Lieu-of-Taxes incentive, which was created to spark investment and job creation in distressed areas of Memphis and unincorporated Shelby County. The property tax freeze is tailored specifically to aid community development groups looking to tackle larger projects. 
 
Developer Binghampton Development Corp. received a 15-year Community Builder PILOT from EDGE, with a 75 percent tax abatement.
 
“What we offered to them early in the process was our Community Builder PILOT,” said Lawrence. “As we have evolved as an organization, we really want to figure out ways to get development, primarily jobs, closer to workers and really get our arms around how we can redevelop older sites in the city itself and in the core of the city.”
 
Linkous Construction is the general contractor on the five-acre, 50,000-square-foot development, and Fleming Architects designed the plans.

The only other approved Community Builder PILOT thus far is for a potential grocery store in vacant building on Danny Thomas Boulevard in Uptown that was previously a Kroger but has now sat empty for many years.

Read more articles by Michael Waddell.

Michael Waddell is a native Memphian who returned to Memphis several years ago after working for nearly a decade in San Diego and St. Petersburg, Fla., as a writer, editor and graphic designer. His work over the past few years has been featured in The Memphis Daily News, Memphis Bioworks Magazine, Memphis Crossroads, the New York Daily News and the New York Post. Contact Michael.
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