Behind the Headlines – July 5, 2019

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Production funding for Behind the Headlines is
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Thank you. – A major step forward for
the re-development of the fairgrounds, tonight,
on Behind the Headlines. [dramatic orchestral music] – I’m Eric Barnes with The Daily
Memphian, thanks for joining us. I’m joined
tonight by Paul Young, Director of Housing and
Community Development for the City of Memphis,
thanks for being here again. – Thanks for having me. – Along with Bill Dries, reporter with
The Daily Memphian. – So the city has named
partners in the private development portion of
the fairgrounds project. The fairgrounds project is big
and complicated and we’ll try to break all the
various parts down. What does this mean, this kind
of partnership with private developers who’ve been
named, and what part of the fairgrounds
property does this impact. – Yeah, so this is a
significant step forward for us on the fairgrounds. We’ve named M&M Enterprise in
partnership with Bellpoint as the developers for the site. The site is located on
the northern part of the fairgrounds, so it’s the
area where currently there’s a running track,
and green fields. It’s between the Children’s
Museum and Early Maxwell. So many people
have seen that site, it’s open green space, we’re
looking to relocate the track to the south-western
portion of the site, which is where the youth
sports facility will be. This is where Libertyland was. So the important thing
about this selection is that the private development drives the Tourism Development
Zone revenues. And the reason it drives it
is because sales tax is what drives tourism
development zone revenues. As those sales taxes
in that area grow, then those sales taxes will be
refunded back to the city to pay for the youth
sports facility, and so this is a significant
step towards us making this project a reality. – And so that piece on
Central you’re talking about, and I should say that M&M
Enterprise is one of the partners in that, is
headed by James Macklan, and to disclose
he is a board member of ours at The Daily Memphian. But that private
development piece, that’s a potential hotel,
potential retail, like restaurants and such,
and multi-family has been talked about? – Right, so it will
be a mixed-use area, so there will be
retail, obviously, because that’s what
drives the sales tax, there’s a hotel, and we’ve
talked about multi-family being on upper floors. And we like that concept
because it allows for some built in market for the retail. So not only would the retail
be driven by the visitors and users of the
youths sports facility, but also you’ll have the area
immediately adjacent as well as the residential units above. – And the TDZ, just going
through these incentives, and there’s TIFs,
and TDZs, and PILOTs, so TDZ, the area
that will capture, it’s incremental growth within
sales tax revenue, right? – That’s correct. – So if it’s X-amount now, the
idea is that as you build these new things, and they
drive more spending, more sales tax growth, that
growth pays back this money that’s going in, that the city
is putting into the project, right, at the simplest level.
– Right. – Over how many years is
that growth measured. – So it’s measured for 30 years, and so the state will
give us a base-line year, which is when we start the
construction of the project. Once we start
construction, the idea, and the reason that the state
gives this type of incentive is because you’re
building a tourism amenity, that but for building this
project you wouldn’t see the growth in sales tax. And so the state says if you’re
going to build this great youth sports facility that’s going to
bring in all of these families, more people are going to spend
money in this general area and those sales taxes that come as
a result of this thing can be rebated back to the city. – A couple more on this,
and then I’ll go to Bill. There are TDZs
around the state, right, all over the place. Sometimes they’re very
overtly tourist attractions, sometimes they’re
things like this that might, people living there, a mix of
locals and tourists could be using this facility
you’re talking about. There is a TDZ downtown, right?
– That’s correct. – That people may know, that
has fueled a bunch of city investment down there as well. Will there be
partners to be named, we’ll talk a bunch about
the youth sports complex, but are there other
partners to be named, or is this group,
that’s the private partners, and everything else is
going to be city commission? – There will be other
partners that will be named, there will be tenants that
will be occupants in the youth sports facility, there will
be an operator for the youth sports facility
that will be named, but in terms of
private development, physical development, this will
be the primary partner to bring that to fruition. – Alright, let
me bring in Bill. – Paul, it’s no accident
that this is the Central Avenue frontage, this is probably
where more people drive by than any other part of the
fairgrounds, correct? – Yeah, that’s correct, we see
this is a great opportunity for retail, it’s obviously
immediately across the street from Christian
Brother’s University, an important
corridor in Midtown, so we think that it will be a
great destination for a hotel, and for retail. – Several versions of this ago
there was a parking garage that was also a very
tentative part of the plans, but that’s now been moved, or
it was moved a little while ago to another part of
the site, correct? – Yeah, we keep moving things
around and trying to figure out the best way. Obviously we wanted to try to
capture a garage near the youth sports facility, we’re still
going back and forth as to where that garage
will be located. What we’re trying to do is make
sure that we are offsetting parking losses on the site. We know that this is
an important area, we have great economic
development that comes from the football games, and the
Southern Heritage Classic, and the AutoZone Liberty
Bowl that comes to that area, so we want to offset
parking to the extent possible, so we’re still playing around
with where that garage will go. Sometimes the Children’s Museum
has closed and offered its space as parking for
the football games. For the Tiger football games,
the Southern Heritage Classic, the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. Are those other areas
there around the track, has that also been used
as parking for the games? – I know that it’s been used
during the Southern Heritage, I don’t know if they use
it during other games. But any areas where we
are impacting parking, I know that the area
where Libertyland was, the grassy area which is where
we’re looking to put the youth sports facility, there was
parking there during gamedays, and so we know that it’s going
to be an impact on parking, so we’re trying to do
everything we can to minimize that impact. – And the sports complex,
where Libertyland used to be, that is going to
be a city project, that will not be
private development, obviously you’ll use a private
general contractor to build it, but that’s a city project. – That’s correct. – And do you
know yet about use, what the mix will be of
tournaments that might come from out of town
versus local use on it? – Yeah, we haven’t
finalized what the mix will be, we’re working on selecting
an operator right now. The operator obviously
will help drive that, we’d like to have a mix of
out of town tournaments, we want to create our own
tournaments that will drive revenue, we want to have
things that serve the local populations, and so this
facility will not have tournaments 24/7,
every day of the week, so we want to figure out how
to program that down time with local
organizations and programs. – Once you start construction,
there’s nothing like construction to
generate interest, and people saying, hey, I
wanna do something there. What kind of
response have you had? Have you had some
other ideas that have kind of floated to the surface
as a result of just word of what you’re about to do? – Yeah, we get interest from
a lot of different places in terms of how they could use
the youth sports facility, whether they would
like to be a tenant. We’ve had people contact us
with ideas on how they could use some of the buildings
around the youth sports facility, like the
Women’s Creative Arts building, the Pipkin Building, our
hope is that we continue to get ideas around the Coliseum, I
know that’s been a big point of conversation and the Coliseum
coalition has obviously been very active. They did a
clean-up a few weeks ago, and they have another
event planned in September. So our hope is that as we
get this project rolling, we’ll generate
even more interest, and so things like that will
have greater opportunity as a result of what we’re doing. – We’ll come back
to some of those buildings you just mentioned, but just
a couple of clarifications on youths sports. The operator will be a private
entity that runs and rents, it won’t be city employees
running this youth sports facility–
– Correct. – So it will be
owned by the city, but not operated by the city–
– That’s right. – Distiction between. Ok, whereas the
private development, the hotel, the
mixed-use you’re talking about, that will actually be owned,
they’ll own the buildings, and I assume do some sort of
ground-lease– – Yeah we’re looking at a
ground-lease– – Gotcha.
– Long-term ground-lease to keep the land in the public
realm, but still have that type of development on the site.
– Ok. The youth sports facility,
there are a couple things that I get, that people ask about,
or that I see comments on our articles and so
on and so forth. One is, there
isn’t enough interest. And some of that is I think,
and I don’t know that there is, I haven’t seen the
feasibility study, but I do know just
from personal experience, and the experience of
friends, youth sports, high-paid, expensive, travel
sports is a big business, and we had Kevin Kane on
here, what I think a year ago, talking about more numbers,
it’s a huge business for people. Volleyball, basketball, soccer,
all these things where the tournaments
generate a lot of money. The families pay
a lot of money, it’s expensive. So that’s a big business
nationally that I think some people aren’t aware of. The other pushback that we
get, so let’s just right there, what are the expected numbers
and revenue and the feasibility study of youth
sports going right there? – Yeah, so we did a lot of
analysis before we came forward with this plan, we spent
about a year working on that. What we found was that youth
sports was one of the only industries to continue to
increase revenues during the recession nationally. So some have called it a
recession proof industry because families
continue to try to create those opportunities for their kids. And so we know that we have a
potential to grab that market. You couple that potential with
that industry with our already strong tourism sector, we
believe that we will be a strong destination, when we
start talking about specific numbers, we did some proformas
to show how the building could potentially operate. We showed that it would be able
to cash-flow positive over the first ten years, so that was
the most convincing thing for the mayor was to make sure
that it was cash flow positive. – And a quick detail
here, just to stick on this, because I get so many
questions about it, because people are like
youth sports facility, and then they don’t know. So it will be an
indoor and outdoor space? Will there be baseball fields?
Will there be outdoor lacrosse? Is that all determined yet? – Yeah, so we’re looking at an
indoor youth sports facility that will focus on indoor track,
basketball, volleyball. – Ok, so not baseball.
– Not baseball. – ‘Cause travel softball,
travel soccer are huge. Ok. The other thing that you get,
and we’ve talked about this before on the show, and I know
you’ve heard it from people is, well but in a city where a
lot of youth don’t have the opportunities for
fields, and sports, and basketball, and volleyball,
and in a neighborhood, and near a neighborhood,
like Orange Mound, but other neighborhoods in
Memphis that are very poor, why is the city creating this
thing that’s only going to be for people who can afford to
buy their way into this very high-end sports complex? – Yeah, I would
answer that in two ways. One, I would say that this, it was a point that
I made earlier. What we want to do is figure
out how do we program this facility so that it can
serve visitors and our existing youth. So we want to work with
different non-profits and organizations that can
use space during the week, during down time when there
aren’t tournaments in place. The other thing that I would
say is because we’re using the tourism development zone it
creates a unique opportunity, where we’re using resources that wouldn’t
otherwise be here. What I mean by that is, if you
don’t build the youth sports facility, then you don’t
see the increase in sales tax revenue, and the
money doesn’t exist. It literally doesn’t
exist unless you build it. So we’re taking advantage of
a resource that is neutral in terms of the
budget for the city, but it creates a value
add for our economy. – Ok, Bill. – So going back to the
Central Avenue frontage, 18 acres for the
hotel and the mixed use. That was one of eight city
properties around the city that the city took RFPs for,
Request For Proposals in the vernacular
of city hall. So how are the other
parcels coming out, because the other seven parcels
are not at the fair grounds they’re in different
parts of the city. And could be used for
a variety of purposes. – Yeah, so let me just run
down what those eight are. So the fairgrounds being one,
two of them actually were not owned by the city, that
was the PINCH district, which St. Jude owned, and
another one was in Raleigh, which was owned
by United Housing. On the St. Jude property, they
did get responses and they’re still working through
that selection process. There were two
sites in Raleigh, there was the one
that United Housing had, and there was the one that’s at
the Raleigh Town Center– – On Powers Road. – On Powers Road is the
one for United Housing. The Raleigh Town Center is
where the Raleigh Springs Mall was, 19 acres there. On both of those Raleigh sites
we didn’t get any responses, so we’re down to the remaining
which would be the Fairgrounds, Tillman Cove in Binghampton,
there was a site in South City, which is just south of
the I Am A Man Plaza, on the same block. There was also the
Crosstown Mound, so the big mound of
dirt over near Crosstown, and then there was
historic Melrose High School. On all of those we
did get responses, the fairgrounds we
just talked about. We are releasing, we’re
announcing that on South City we’ll be working with
Tyrone Burrows as the developer for that project. Tyrone Burrows actually
owns the funeral home R.S. Lewis,
which is right adjacent, he actually owns property across the
street from the site, so we’re really
impressed with his vision, and he’ll be able to bring
forth a strong project there. And we’re also announcing
that at Tillman Cove, Elmington Capital will be
the developer for that site. And Elmington Capital has done
a lot of affordable housing development
throughout the downtown area, and we’re excited about
what they’ll bring to the Binghampton community. – How much has what’s already
happened in Binghampton played into Elmington coming
into the area to do housing? – I think it
certainly played into it. Elmington came into the city
and they concentrated a lot of their work in
the downtown area. They just finished a
project in the Uptown area, and they were looking
for other opportunities in other parts of the city. Binghampton
obviously is what I believe, going to be one of the fastest
growing areas of the city, and the reason I believe that
is because of its proximity, it’s location, the momentum,
the community is very engaged, and we think it’s important
from a city perspective that we have some affordable housing
baked in because we feel like when we talk
about gentrification, which is something that’s
happening in a lot of the stronger markets
across the country, it hasn’t really
happened in Memphis yet, and we think that that’s one of
the areas where it could happen first, so we’re
excited about this. – A whole bunch of
stuff to break apart, but real quickly, Melrose High,
was that one where there was not an RFP response? – No, we did have a
response on Melrose High, we’re excited about it,
we’re still working with the community with the developer,
there was only one respondant that was an
eligible respondant. And so we’re working with that
team and the community to get to a project that
everybody’s happy with. And on Crosstown Mound, we have
a little bit more work to do, we do have some very, very
strong projects that have been proposed, but we want to
have some more community conversations before
we make that selection. – If people want to learn more
about these proposals and all, they go to your
website, the HCD website? – We don’t have much on
the website about them yet, but we will get some
information posted in the coming weeks, because
they’re still under review– – But if people want to, there
will be public meetings? How do they watch and get a
chance to have that kind of community conversation
you’re talking about? – So there will be
a public meeting, and we will announce that
in the next week or so, we haven’t set a date yet, but
we will certainly have it on our website, as well
as the city website. – On Tillman Cove, that is a
rather modest looking apartment complex that was built
some time ago in that area. Is this going to be new, or is
it going to kind of work with what’s on the landscape? – Yeah, the vision is for a
new development that will have different styles of housing,
so you’ll have some more dense housing on the
frontage part along Tillman, and as you get deeper, because
it’s a pretty deep site, it’s about eight acres, as you
get deeper into the site you’ll have lower
density housing units, town houses, and
things of that nature. To blend in with the housing
that’s immediately behind it. – The Crosstown Mound, what was
an area that was built up when everybody thought that the
interstate would be going through there and
through Overton Park. Does that get leveled down,
is there remediation involved in that site? – Yeah, the Crosstown
Mound is a little bit complex, because we still have some
work to do with the state, right now there is a
restriction that prevents the site from being used for
anything other than a public use, so we’ll be working with
the state to see how we can get that restriction removed. But both plans that we are
contemplating for the site do call for grading the site, so
we would have to remove all that dirt. – And to clarify
where that is, if you’re, it’s right at the
highway, it’s strange, because if you go
down from Crosstown, to the west of Crosstown, there
is what feels like a vacant lot and a hill. And I guess I’ve driven by
there a handful of times, but it’s actually a graded
slope that was part of the highway going out over
and crossing 240 right there? – Exactly. – And so that’s where that
is, this Crosstown Mound which sounds so strange. Let’s go back to something you
just talked about with about six, seven minutes left here. You mentioned gentrification,
and low-income housing. And we’ve talked about
this before on this show, I think we talked about it
in the context of South City, so South City is the big,
it is replacing Foote Homes, and what is the other
one that was part– – (Bill) Cleaborne.
– Cleaborne, thank you. The traditional
two-story, kind of, for some people it was home,
and I don’t mean to take away from that–
– Absolutely. – For other
people it was kind of, people used the term, it was a
place to warehouse the poor, was a phrase that
people have used. That is all being replaced,
that’s to the south, south-east of FedEx Forum–
– Correct. – And huge amount of
construction that’s going on there, Federal money,
and some private money, a lot of private money, and a
little bit of city money that’s in that mix. You talked about
gentrification. For some people
that’s a very dirty word. That means pushing
out poor people, and disproportionately
pushing out people of color. To other people,
gentrification means, no, you’re
bringing in investments, and you’re
improving neighborhoods, and you’re bringing
activity, so in what sense, how do you define
gentrification, and what’s going on at South
City and some of these other areas you’re talking
about and focused on? – I try to keep the definition
of gentrification simple and just say it’s when an area goes
from a place where people can afford to live to where they
can no longer afford to live. And I think sometimes we
see places that become residentialized, so you
take an old industrial area, with a bunch of abandoned
buildings and vacant lots, and you start to
redevelop, think Union Row, and some would use the
term gentrification, I think that’s an overuse of
the term because there’s nobody living there. So that’s not gentrification. When you have gentrification
you have buildings that are being purchased, and people
that are being priced out, and then they’re
having to leave. And even what we’ve done
in some of the Hope VI, and Choice Neighborhoods
projects– – Which are the
replacement of the old traditional housing projects, there were a lot of
them around mid-city. – Exactly, I mean I think
that’s displacement for sure, and there’s
certainly an impact, but it’s not necessarily
gentrification, because the areas around it the values
didn’t necessarily increase. And so I think in Memphis,
we’re just getting to the point where
gentrification is potential, and so it’s an important time
for us to invest resources, because we need to preserve
affordability in these areas. – For Foote Homes,
the displacement issue, which is obviously
wrapped up in this, that was one of the criticisms
of some of the previous teardown-and-rebuild of
public housing projects, that the people
who had lived there, maybe it wasn’t
attractive to certain people, but that was their homes, and
that’s where they’d grown up, that so with former
residents of Foote Homes, will be invited and be able
to move back into South City. – Correct. – And that’s about to
happen this summer? – Yeah, so this summer you’ll
start to see the first phase begin to lease up, and
we’ll start opening units, so that will be at the
latter part of the summer, so late, early to late August. – Bill, with four minutes left. – And the new homes and rental
places are going up on the site as we speak, it’s
a very busy site. – It is. – But this wasn’t an easy haul
for you becaue about the time that you started moving people
out of Foote Homes there were two section-8 complexes among
others whose tenants were vying for new places to live too. So the places for
all these folks to go, there were pretty
tight at the time. – Yeah, there were roughly
700 to 800 families that were looking for housing all at
the same time in the City of Memphis, and it was a big push. The Housing Authority and Urban
strategies and a lot of folks did a lot of work ot make sure
that all of those families were appropriately
placed, and found housing. The team is still working with
those families that moved from Foote Homes to ensure that they
are successful in the places that they live. Urban Strategies is the team
that is focused on the people side of the work in South City,
and they’ve done a great job of keeping in contact
with the families, and maintaining relationships
so that as we begin to lease up, they know that this
opportunity exists for them to come back. Some will choose to not come
back because they’ve moved on with their life
in other places, but many will
decide to come back. – With just a
couple minutes left, there were three schools
in the South City area, Vance, MLK
Transition, and another one, Georgia Elementary. Are you all going to take
those and try to convert those, or not. So we’ve actually released
our option on Georgia Avenue, we did an RFP for entities
that want to occupy space. And what we found was that
there wasn’t enough demand for us to try to do the
redevelopment with two schools, so we kept our option
with MLK with the schools, we’re still
evaluating how we’ll use it, but we do think that
we’ll have a workable plan, and on Vance, the school board
has decided to demolish it, which we think is
a good thing, because– – That’s right up
against this redevelopment, so is that potentially
an area for redevelopment like South City? – It is a potential
for redevelopment, although we aren’t necessarily
doing it at this time. – Let me go back to the
fairgrounds and run through a few things, because I can hear
the folks from the Coliseum, literally, not literally, but
figuratively calling me and saying, hey you didn’t ask
enough about the Coliseum. The future of the Coliseum,
there’s a lot of people who historically, and this is a
city that’s done some pretty amazing historic renovations, and they have
great plans for this. Is the city’s view
still that there’s just, it’s time to
mothball the Coliseum, or are you just listening
and waiting for a viable plan? – I think we’re listening
and waiting for a viable plan. I mean that’s our goal, is to
figure out something that’s going to be
financially feasible, that doesn’t become a
drain on city resources, that’s our primary goal, and
we think that by having new development around it,
it opens up opportunity for the Coliseum. – Did the vote this week by
city council to really clearly preclude
Graceland, a reach here, but Graceland from opening
anything like a 6,000 seat arena that would
compete with the FedEx Forum, did that make it less likely
in your mind that the Coliseum could be converted into
a viable concert arena? – Umm, I’m not sure. I don’t know that, I didn’t
really think of it in that way. But I think that whatever
happens with the Coliseum, it has to be
financially feasible, and it has to meet that
test of not competing with the Grizzlies. – And then you talked
about parking and all this development of the Fairgrounds. I think there are a lot of
people who want to know, will there be any
green space left, public, open,
green space left when all this
development happens. How much green space will be
left that’s just open parkland, or kind of
effectively park land? – We’ll certainly be working
with landscape architects to ensure that there’s
green space on the site. – Alright, thank
you for being here, thank you Bill, and
thank you for joining us, join us again next week. [dramatic orchestral music] [acoustic guitar chords]

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