EDGE Board signs off on Overton Square Hotel incentives

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The Shelby County EDGE board signed off on tax incentives for a boutique hotel in Overton Square.

The Economic Development Growth Engine signed off on $6.1 million in tax breaks for the project at Cooper Street and Trimble Avenue.

The 100-room hotel would create some 60 jobs and have a rooftop restaurant.

Many people voiced their excitement for the project, but there’s also concern about how much money these employees of the future project will make.

"It was a big step. It was a big step. It’s still not a done project, but it’s a big step in the right direction, " said Bob Loeb, president of Loeb Properties.

Those who support the hotel say it will be in walking distance to plenty of shops and restaurants as well as entertainment like the theater and ballet.

"I think it’s great. I’m a big believer in rising tide lifts all ships," explained Loeb.

However, Wendi C. Thomas, editor and publisher of MLK50.com, has other concerns when it comes to salary for those employed by the hotel. The average salary will be about $22,000, but Thomas said the median will be closer to $19,000.

"Is that the best use of our tax break dollars to invest in a project like that?” Thomas questioned Wednesday after the meeting.

Thomas says she can see the draw and need for a hotel in that spot.

"But we have a choice about whether the jobs in those hotels are poverty-wage jobs. Today Memphis has said yes we need people to work for basically no money to make money for this private wealthy developer," said Thomas.

The project still has a ways to go and the brand for the hotel still needs to be chosen, but we could see changes by 2019.