Court Square Center Gets Help

(Memphis) The Downtown Memphis Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to extend a pilot project to keep a Memphis landmark alive. The Court Square Center on Main Street was facing a bleak future, and possible foreclosure, without some help.

After an hour and a half discussion, the Downtown Memphis Commission says it voted unanimously to help Court Square Center because the three buildings were too important to the city to lose.

In good spirits, members of the DMC all agreed it was worth saving.

“They were part of a blighted block in the very heart of downtown,” said John Basek, a manager of the Court Square Center.

The Court Square went from blight to beauty because of a pilot project granted in 2006 that froze the property’s tax rate, allowing developers to makeover the three dilapidated buildings.

But the deal was about to expire, and Court Square said without it, the Center’s expenses would have quadrupled.

“There was possibility of bankruptcy or foreclosure if the project was not able to be refinanced within the course of the next year,” said Basek.

So, Basek asked for help now and the DMC agreed to extend the pilot for ten more years. It ensures that the 75 people who live there can stay, as well at the Plough Foundation, two businesses and a law and business school for young students.

“It’s perhaps the leading charter school in the city,” said Basek.

Since renovations of the buildings started in ’06, the project survived a major fire and the collapse of the real estate market in 2008, and those are just some of the reasons the Center says it’s needed a little help for a little longer.

Court Square Center is a public-private partnership. The City of Memphis alone has invested $10.5 million.

The pilot project now will run until 2026.

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