South City redevelopment set to get underway by year's end

Look for the possible demolition of Foote Homes, the city's last public housing project, by the end of the year, as the final 20 percent of residents are in the process of relocating in advance of the $250 million redevelopment of the neighborhood.
“The area has seen historic disinvestment and blight,” said Paul Young, director of the department of housing and community development for the City of Memphis. “We’re going to rebuild 712 units of housing, 480 of which will be placement units for public housing, meaning people that currently live in public housing will be eligible for those units. So we’re replacing more affordable housing than currently exists on the site.”
The new mixed-use South City project will be Memphis’ first LEED-certified sustainable community. One of the roles of the city’s Housing and Community Development (HCD) department is to deliver neighborhood assets like a grocery store and an early childhood learning center, as well as blight remediation plans, a small business loan program for sod treatments, and park improvements.
“We’re also exploring some adaptive reuse of school facilities in the area to potentially serve as mixed-use, maybe even support the development of the early childhood center, for instance looking at spaces like Georgia Avenue Elementary School, which is now closed, as well as Martin Luther King Transitional Center and seeing if we can develop some housing units in partnership with non-profits,” said Young.
The HCD is partnering with Community Capital to develop those assets.
The hope is that by early December all of the residents at the 420-unit Foote Homes site will have moved out, and demolition will begin shortly after. The first phase of the project, which will include 120 affordable rate rental homes, must completed by the end of 2018, and Young expects the neighborhood to be fully built out by 2021.
The city is coordinating with the Memphis Housing Authority, the owner of the development site. The MHA is partnering with developer McCormack Baron Salazar.
Young points out that without projects like these families that have lived in the downtown area for years would eventually be priced out.
“We want make sure that we have enough affordable housing in these communities to ensure that we maintain income diversity in our communities and our downtown,” he said.
The neighborhood will also include more than 200 market rate rental homes in efforts to create a mixed-income area.
“We want this area to be more vibrant, more walkable and connected to the rest of downtown and South Memphis,” said Young. “Our hope is that the redevelopment of Foote Homes and South City will connect to the different redevelopment initiatives happening in Soulsville and that it will have a positive impact on development trans in those areas so we can increase property values and grow the population there.”

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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