Frayser apartment community undergoing major transformation

The blighted Peachtree Apartments, a 72-unit complex located near several schools in Frayser, is in the early stages of a nearly $6 million transformation.

The main goal of the renovation is to provide quality affordable housing and to help support ongoing revitalization taking place in the Frayser community near to the MLK Success Zone, an area that includes MLK College Preparatory School, Frayser Achievement School, the Victory Tabernacle abandoned church, Pursuit of God Church, Peach Tree Apartments and Pleasant View Apartments.

Backing the development of the MLK Success Zone and the renovation of the Peachtree Apartments are a host of partners including Neighborhood Preservation, Inc., ComCap Partners and Urban Renaissance Partners, Inc., the nonprofit owner of the complex.

"The community wants to see the Success Zone become the healthiest neighborhoods in the city, so we're looking at ways to revitalize these apartment complexes, strengthen these schools, and do something with Victory Tabernacle—easily one of the largest eyesores in Frayser—to make all of these entities work hand in hand together to better the community as a whole," said Quincy Jones, ComCap project manager.

The community is maintaining pathways to the schools, keeping curbsides and drains clear of debris, reporting malfunctioning streetlights, hosting community gatherings and reporting suspicious activity.

ComCap, which helps with finances by assisting nonprofits, community organizations and developers, began working with NPI nearly three years ago.

“We were trying to identify areas that needed significant residential improvement that were close to schools,” said Jones. “We really want to be able to strengthen and support the kids that are going to school.”

Funds for the Peachtree Apartments renovation came from tax credit equities, debt financing and philanthropic gifts.

One of the challenges was cleaning the lead, asbestos and mold from the buildings, which were built in the 1960s and have sat blighted and mostly empty for several years. An environmental firm came in and removed all hazardous materials from the premises.

“Part of what we’re doing is combining the one- and two-bedroom units into three's,” said Jones, who estimates the new number of units in the complex will total around 51.

The new floor plans were created by Architecture Inc., and a general contractor will be selected soon.

The interior rehab will take place over the next 24 months.

“One of the things we wanted to do was rather than run the risk of the apartment community becoming another vacant complex that’s an eyesore, we decided to spruce things up in the meantime to make it attractive,” said Jones.

ComCap called on the UrbanArt Commission to identify and select a local artist, Arnold Thompson, to lead the exterior beautification project, which consisted of the installation of 68 art panels to cover the doors and windows on the north side of the apartment complex.

Twelve advanced art students from MLK Prep helped to fabricate elements for the public art concept and participated in creating the actual artwork. Each student received a stipend for their creativity and civic leadership in the project.

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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.