City awarded grant to help revitalize North Memphis

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- A $1 million grant aims to help revitalize North Memphis. Memphis is one of six cities selected for the Strong, Prosperous and Resilient Communities Challenge, known as SPARCC.

"We want the renaissance that is going on in Memphis to have an affect in every neighborhood, on every street and in every living room," said Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland to a group on Thursday.

Strickland is talking about the streets in North Memphis, homes, schools, businesses and parks. When you drive by them, it`s pretty evident they`ve seen better times.

The Wolf River is the north and west boundary the grant covers. North Parkway and Summer Avenue to the south and North Graham on the east side.

It`s an area Arlee Applewhite is familiar with. She owns a ceramic business, and has lived and worked in the area for a while.

"Oh 30 to 40 years," she said with a laugh.

She`s excited to hear the "renaissance" as Mayor Strickland called it that`s happening in Downtown, Crosstown, Uptown, and around St. Jude is planned for her community.

"You know if they fixed it up more people would come and it would be more safe," said Applewhite.

The city applied for the grant last year and were just selected to join SPARCC. Over three years, they get $1 million, but over time that could amount to much more.

"What we`ll do is go through this process and plan out what they want to happen in north Memphis and then we can apply for additional monies," explained Strickland.

Strickland said up to tens of millions of dollars for capital improvements. Those improvements could include improving access to healthy food, weatherizing homes and giving the community the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty.

"This won`t be something that we hatch up in a conference room down at city hall without any public input," said Strickland.

The mayor said now the city will begin hearing from the community to find out what they want to see be done.