MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The old Tri-State Bank headquarters is coming down as the company settles into its new location off Union, but the property’s new owners aren’t saying what may go in its place.
The historic, black-owned bank was where many black citizens, businesses and churches gathered for decades to do banking.
The original bank stood on Beale Street in the 1940s before moving to the location at the corner of Main and Beale in the 1970s, at a time when black-owned businesses were scarce in downtown.
WREG emailed and called Belz Enterprises, the company that bought the property for $3 million, and have not heard back about their plans.
On Friday heavy machinery moved mangled metal.
The sights and sounds roared throughout downtown, drawing attention from those rolling by on scooters and waiting for the trolley.
The demolition zone sits along iconic Beale Street at Main.
“It is a prime location, I was just telling my wife that,” said Andre Tarton.
He remembers the bank as a child.
“I would just be downtown with mom when I was younger and I remember that bank being there,” he said.
The bank was founded in 1946. According to their website, the black-owned bank says the founders dreamed of a bank that could constructively change community conditions.
Tarton has ideas for what the future holds in the spot.
“More rooms, more hotel rooms. Always more hotel rooms,” he said.
Some people told us the site should be a parking lot. Stacy McGee has other ideas.
“Something for kids to do,” she said. “Something that’s open to the community and the public. Something for kids to do in the summer time is what I’m thinking about . I don’t know put a little park there or something. Something musical. Memphis is always about barbecue and music.”
Constance Shelly is thinking upward.
“Maybe some more apartments? That’s kinda whats on the rise around here. So it would be kinda nice for maybe another skyscraper.”
Or, she says, perhaps a grocery store.
While property owners are keeping their plans close to their chest, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland weighed in.
“All of the redevelopment that’s happening now is proof that our city has momentum. My administration will continue to support innovative projects that create good jobs as Memphis moves into its third century and we grow our city up, not out,” said Strickland in a statement to WREG.
The Downtown Memphis Commission also said they could not comment because plans are not finalized.
We’ll keep you posted as we learn more.