Blight Fight in Downtown Memphis

(Memphis) The City of Memphis is getting a makeover as several vacant buildings are being knocked to the ground in an effort to clean up downtown.

The goal of this destruction is future construction and redevelopment, so more people will live work and play in downtown Memphis.

A dangerous vacant parking garage and an eyesore just across from the multi-million dollar renovated Court Square is now a pile of rubble.

The Downtown Memphis Commission is identifying nearly 200 vacant rundown properties around downtown, and if they can’t be rehabilitated they’re trying to get them torn down.

Commission President Paul Morris says fighting blight will have great benefits downtown, “We’ve got a lot of blighted buildings and that’s in large part because a lot of people over the last forty years have moved their offices and residents out of the city and into the suburbs.”

These empty shells are bringing down the value of the downtown area. 

Morris says the commission is working with each individual property owner for the best approach to renovating their property. 

He says many owners leave their property run down intentionally, because a cleared off lot is prime real estate downtown.

“Our property tax system is based on the value of your property.  So if you have a blighted property, your taxes will be a lot less,” said Morris.

The commission can offer incentives that will slow the tax growth for a property owner if they clean up their space. 

If the owner doesn’t want to meet codes they can be sued.

The Downtown Commission calls the redevelopment of the Chisca Hotel their top priority. 

They say once it’s turned into a residential space it will spur on other development throughout the South Main District and all of downtown.

The Commission says you can expect work on the Chisca to begin in the spring. 

Other improvements are already underway downtown. 

A space at Main and Jefferson that was once an abandoned burned out pit wrapped in chain-link fence is now downtown’s only dog park. 

The reformed eyesore also doubles as an art space. 

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