Strickland focusing on new development effort in Hickory Hill

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland says going into his second term his big focus is fighting blight and crime to revitalize impoverished neighborhoods, and he's focusing particular attention on Hickory Hill.

Strickland says he’s working with groups in Hickory Hill to form a community development corporation — a program meant to provide improved housing and stimulate commercial growth. CDCs are programs that invests in real estate and economic development in lower-income neighborhoods.

He said communities like Frayser are thriving due to their program, claiming property value has gone up 25 % over the past two years.

"There was a month 10 years ago when the average house sold in Frayser for $17,000. We’re up to 42 (thousand) now," said Steve Lockwood, executive director of the Frayser CDC.

Lockwood said the program would do well for several communities in greater Memphis.

One Hickory Hill resident said she’ll believe it when she sees it.

"Well, I wonder about that, because people will say they’re going to do something and they don’t do it," Bonnie J. Gray said.

Lockwood said while a CDC is beneficial, it’s not easy to get started, as there’s no guaranteed funding.

"Money without a vision and a plan is really pretty useless, and maybe destructive, to tell you the truth," Lockwood said.

Hickory Hill resident Sherrie Whittin said she wants to see more development in her neighborhood.

"I just want to see the area improve because we’ve lost a lot of stores, a lot of people are moving out of the area. They’re moving to Cordova," she said. "And at the end of the day, yes I think it would be a good thing if we could get some redevelopment done."

Strickland said he would also like to see a CDC program in Orange Mound.

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