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New South City homes begin rising on site of Foote Homes

By Updated: September 25, 2018 7:09 AM CT
<strong>Officials including U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen of Memphis (from left), City of Memphis COO Doug McGowen and THDA executive director Ralph Perrey were on hand Monday, Sept. 24, as local leaders formally kicked off construction of the first two phases of the South City mixed-income, mixed-use development.</strong>&nbsp;<strong>A total of 420 units of public housing at Foote Homes is to be replaced with 600 units, including a 100-unit senior citizens building.</strong> (Patrick Lantrip/Daily Memphian)

Officials including U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen of Memphis (from left), City of Memphis COO Doug McGowen and THDA executive director Ralph Perrey were on hand Monday, Sept. 24, as local leaders formally kicked off construction of the first two phases of the South City mixed-income, mixed-use development. A total of 420 units of public housing at Foote Homes is to be replaced with 600 units, including a 100-unit senior citizens building. (Patrick Lantrip/Daily Memphian)

The last of the brick two-story apartment buildings that were the Foote Homes public housing development are down to a few slabs of concrete overgrown by grass and bushes. And new wooden frames are starting to rise near the corner of Lauderdale Street and Vance Avenue.

With some of those frames as a backdrop, local leaders formally kicked off construction Monday, Sept. 24, of the first two phases of the South City mixed-income mixed-use development in the larger area.

“This is the last of the traditional public housing that Memphis Housing Authority has responsibility for,” MHA chief executive officer Marcia Lewis said to a group of guests beneath a tent at the corner of Ratliff and Nebo streets in South City.

“The landscape has been changed in Memphis,” Lewis said. “It has been a welcome site to eliminate blight and to help people lift themselves up from an impoverished setting to one in which they can compete in a changing environment. This furthers that.”

A total of 420 units of public housing at Foote Homes is to be replaced with 600 units, including a 100-unit senior citizens building. The rents will range from those subsidized for public-housing residents to market-rate rentals on the footprint of Foote Homes, with an additional 112 units of housing to be developed in the area around Foote Homes.

The first phase is a $35.5 million investment with an additional $41.8 million in phase two.

What comes next on the Foote Homes site will be a mirror image of Cleaborn Pointe at Heritage Landing, which replaced Cleaborn Homes on the east side of Lauderdale. Foote Homes and Cleaborn Homes were once identical sets of brick buildings divided by Lauderdale.

The two areas will again look very similar with a variety of housing styles from low-rise apartment buildings to single-family homes.

Foote Homes was the last of the city’s nine large public housing projects. The others, including nearby Cleaborn Homes, converted to mixed-income, mixed-use developments starting in the late 1990s with LeMoyne Gardens, which is now College Park.

In all but one of the cases, the existing public housing developments were demolished and new housing built on the sites. Lauderdale Courts, which became Uptown Square, was a renovation of the existing buildings because they were on the National Register of Historic Places.

The $30 million grant in federal funding for the remake of Foote Homes, awarded to the city by federal officials in 2015 in the city’s second bid for such funding, is matched by $30 million in city funding to leverage a greater amount of private investment.

The South City area is a bigger area than just Cleaborn and Foote Homes that city leaders hope will link up with South Main area development to the west as well as private development in the area south of FedExForum.

Ruby Bright, executive director of the Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis, is leading the work with numerous organizations to provide wrap-around services to the families moved out of Foote Homes, some of whom will be returning as the new housing opens.

“Imagine this community revitalized,” she said as construction workers with Capstone Building Corp. worked in the frames of buildings nearby.

Federal officials put more emphasis on returning displaced residents to the area than was the case in the earliest renovations of public housing in Memphis. The funding for the services is a key distinction in the Choice Neighborhoods grant awarded for the Foote Homes project compared to the HOPE VI federal funding used in the previous projects.

Bright described the Choice Neighborhoods effort as “HOPE VI on steroids.”

City housing and community development director Paul Young said the goal is more than new housing.

“It’s about making sure that the people in this community have access to safe, quality, affordable housing. … And it’s going to happen right on the cusp of Downtown,” he said. “We’re doing it in a way where we are being intentional about making sure that the people that make this city who we are, what we are – who give us the culture, the vibe and the creativity, the feel that makes Memphis nationally significant, the grit and the grind – all of that comes from the people that live in this community. And we want to make sure we keep that as we keep growth happening in this city.”

The financing of South City includes a total of $60 million in tax credits and bond financing from the Tennessee Housing Development Agency over several years accompanied by equity funding from RBC Capital Markets and private construction debt financed by Chase.

The developers are ComCap Partners of Memphis, a veteran of the conversion of the large public housing projects, and McCormack Baron Salazar Inc., which has been involved in the city’s conversion of public housing projects since the Lamar Terrace conversion into University Place in 2004.



Topics

South City Foote Homes
Bill Dries

Bill Dries

Bill Dries covers city government and politics. He is a native Memphian and has been a reporter for more than 40 years.


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