Shelby County officials announce new development in South Memphis to address infrastructure


MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shelby County officials and developers announced Thursday they will submit an application for a major development in South Memphis that would be funded by a Tax Increment Financing district.

Southeast Regional Development Corporation, along with the support of Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris, discussed a community TIF in South Memphis, saying divestment in the neighborhood keeps families in poverty.

“We’ve seen a renaissance in neighboring communities and I think we can spread that out,” Harris said.

The announcement was met with applause and various state, city and county leaders voiced their praise of the redevelopment plan for South Memphis. 

“It is a historic community, south Memphis. I would say the best community in this town, in this county,” said Rep. Larry Miller.

“I’m excited any time a black community has an opportunity to invest in itself,” said Shelby County Commissioner Tami Sawyer.

Miller said the initiative for South Memphis is long overdue.

“I’m elated, I’m happy to see that at some point in time we will put the resources in to redevelop this community,” Miller said.

South Memphis currently has more than 5,800 vacant lots and buildings, and 69% of people living there rent their property from out of town landlords who overcharge on crumbling properties. 

“It is an opportunity for us to bring awareness to the opportunity before us. It’s an opportunity to create partnerships and collaboratives,” said J.W. Gibson, CEO of Gibson Companies and South Memphis native.

Also at the presentation was Rebecca Hutchinson, president of the Board of Directors for the Soulsville Development District. She says her group plans to apply for their own TIF.

“This plan is not the community’s plan,” Hutchinson said. “The community of Soulsville plans to apply for a TIF. We understand the community. We’ve been working in the neighborhood for decades, many of us non-profits.

“One of the things that we’ve learned as part of our work with 3.0 is when you look at the availability of resources, financial resources, we all know county is kinda tight, city is kinda tight,” Gibson said. “This TIF vehicle is the best vehicle available to us.”

Leaders say they need support to get this done. They’re calling on faith-based groups, non-profits, community organizations, activists, the private sector, and government all working together. 

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