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VOL. 127 | NO. 192 | Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Council to Vote on Cleaborn Homes

By Bill Dries

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With a vote Tuesday, Oct. 2, the Memphis City Council will change the name of the old Cleaborn Homes public housing development to Cleaborn Pointe at Heritage Landing and the name of the larger south Downtown-into-South Memphis Triangle Noir plan to Heritage Trails.

The resolution on Tuesday’s agenda also includes $2.2 million in city capital improvement funding toward the latest phase of the $94.3 million redevelopment of the 130-acre site.

The council meets at 3:30 p.m. at City Hall, 125 N. Main St.

Demolition of Cleaborn Homes began last year after the city secured a Hope VI grant from the federal government – the latest in a series of grants that have moved the city away from large public housing projects. The move began in the late 1990s with the demolition of LeMoyne Gardens in South Memphis. The city, with the federal funding, built the College Park development.

Cleaborn Homes is being redeveloped as mixed-use, mixed-income housing similar to the conversion that has happened at five of the other six large public housing projects in Memphis.

After the conversion of Cleaborn Homes only Foote Homes will remain. And Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr.’s administration says the success of Cleaborn Pointe will help build momentum for the same process at Foote Homes.

City Housing and Community Development Director Robert Lipscomb told council members last month that the city hopes to secure a federal Choice Neighborhood grant to demolish Foote Homes.

A group the administration had been working under contract with on development plans for the Vance Avenue area also hopes the city can secure the grant. But the Vance Avenue collaborative is pushing for Foote Homes to remain and not be converted to mixed-use, mixed-income status. The collaborative kicked off its “Improve-Don’t Remove Foote Homes” campaign Monday, Oct. 1.

The council is likely to hear from both sides and debate the different approaches at an Oct. 16 committee session at City Hall.

At a 9:15 a.m. committee session this week, council members will get their first look at a proposed ordinance that would establish a registry of all transferred properties in the city with an annual registration fee of $200 per property to be paid by the mortgagee or his agent.

The registry is part of an anti-blight effort by the city to find the owners of abandoned and neglected properties with less trouble.

It is for all property that has been “the subject of a foreclosure sale where the title was transferred by the mortgagee or its agent or when any property is transferred under a deed in lieu of foreclosure/sale, or quit claim deed, or by transfer, whether filed with the register of deeds or not and upon transfer of ownership upon death of a prior owner.”

Any change in that status must be reported within 10 days.

The ordinance also includes a default registry requiring information on a mortgagee or agent for the mortgagee who can be contacted by the city on a notice of default or vacancy.

Both measures are intended to make it easier for the city to identify owners or those responsible for managing abandoned or vacant properties.

The default registry is an option cities have under Tennessee law.

Violating the ordinance comes with a $500 fine and revenue from the fines and fees goes to the city office of code enforcement for anti-blight efforts.

At the same committee session, council members will discuss accepting bids and appropriating the first amount of funds to begin the first phase of improvements to the streetscape of Elvis Presley Boulevard in Whitehaven between Brooks and Winchester roads.

Groundbreaking for the project is in November. The total project will give what is Whitehaven’s main street a facelift from Brooks Road on the north to Shelby Drive to the south. The stretch of road that is a U.S. highway includes the part of the boulevard that runs by Graceland.

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