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New Chicago, Smokey City added to Uptown development plan

Chelsea Avenue cuts through the New Chicago and Smokey City neighborhoods in North Memphis.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Local leaders hope a new $30 million investment can help redevelop some North Memphis neighborhoods like their Uptown neighbors to the west.

Memphis City Council approved three joint resolutions with the county Tuesday that would expand the Tax Increment Financing district, which has funded improvements in Uptown, to include hundreds of parcels in New Chicago, Smokey City and parts of Bickford.

New Chicago and Smokey City sit just east of downtown Memphis, separated by Chelsea Avenue.

The plan would open up millions of dollars to stabilize vacant lots and nuisance properties, decrease crime by adding lighting, sidewalks and security cameras, help pay for improvements to homes, commercial buildings and utility projects, and preserve historic buildings while adding affordable housing, according to City Council documents. In the long term, the plan aims to create a fully occupied residential neighborhood while protecting affordability for current residents.

Quincey Morris, executive director and president of the Klondike/Smokey City CDC, said the neighborhoods she serves — two of the oldest African American communities in North Memphis — have suffered from neglect for years as some of its neighbors have been targeted for economic development.

As long as those areas are able to maintain their unique identities, she was glad to see them join in the Uptown district.

Morris said it could help the organization complete projects it’s working on, including a senior independent living facility and new housing along Ayers. She also hoped residents would be able to take part in a home improvement program.

“I think it will have a great impact on some of the projects we’re working on to get them moving forward,” Morris said.

► Read the plan here.

Tax Increment Financing is a structure that allows some state sales tax money generated in an area to be temporarily redirected to fund development projects in that area.

The Uptown district was established by the city and county in 2001 to spur new development in the area. It expires in 2031, so all work must be completed by then.

(the areas added to the Uptown TIF district are shown above in purple)

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