Downtown Could be Designated A ‘Slum’

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(Memphis) A downtown Memphis Commission is calling the downtown area a blighted slum.

They say the area is a growing menace, and now they want to spend tens upon tens of millions of dollars in fix up the so-called slums of downtown.

“Is it the best choice of words? Probably not.  I don`t think it`s a slum and I don`t think anyone in the city of Memphis lives in a slum,” said City Councilman Lee Harris.

City Councilman Lee Harris says referring to downtown as a slum probably sends the wrong message to people here and the rest of the country.

Plus, the city spent hundreds of millions of dollars to redevelop the area.  

Harris says the drastic language could lead to drastic actions and big tax hike.

It would fund the Heritage Trail Community Redevelopment plan.

“They`ll use the money for Foote Homes to the exclusion of the rest of downtown.  So that`s a huge implication in and of itself,” said Harris.

Harris says that means any part of the city not considered downtown, or Foote Homes specifically, might get left out.

Councilwoman Janis Fullilove says she's not sure she likes this redevelopment plan, and the people in Foote Homes, who have their own plan for redevelopment, may need to lead the charge.

“I say you want to move all the so-called wealthy people into the downtown area, and you want to move the poor people into other poor areas.  And I don't like that,” said Fullilove.

Councilman Harris says this redevelopment plan could freeze tax revenue brought in for over 20 years to only be used to redevelop certain parts of town like Foote homes.

He says that ties the council's hands when it comes to financial needs in other parts of the budget.