VOL. 130 | NO. 27 | Tuesday, February 10, 2015
Memphis Begins Eminent Domain Process on Raleigh Springs
By Bill Dries
Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. told the Memphis Rotary Club Tuesday, Feb. 10, that the city has initiated eminent domain legal proceedings on the Raleigh Springs Mall to possibly demolish parts of it.
“We seldom do that,” Wharton said after the speech of the eminent domain possibility. “But we want to get that started and moving. It may not really come to that. … We’ve got to move that project along.”
The administration and the owners of Raleigh Springs have been at odds over the city’s plan to develop the mall as a “town center” that would include moving public facilities including a police precinct and a library into the mall footprint.
The owners of the mall said last year they haven’t been contacted by the administration about the city’s plans and that the plans have made it difficult to sign tenants for the mall.
If the city is granted eminent domain, Wharton said it would not be for demolition of the entire mall but only for parts of it.
Wharton also said his administration will use an entity outside City Hall to review plans for the Mid-South Fairgrounds.
Wharton told the group of 100 in Overton Square he wants an independent review that is not connected to any part of city government.
“This will be an opportunity to address some of the concerns as best we can,” he said, referring to increasingly vocal opposition to the plan. The opposition has also included criticism of the proposal to finance it using a Tourism Development Zone to recapture incremental sales tax revenue in a three-mile area of Midtown.
“This is not ‘We are just starting all over again,’” Wharton said of the idea of redeveloping the Fairgrounds as a center for amateur sports tournaments. “The concept remains the same. But should there be some fine tuning? …
"We’re not just hell-bent on saying we are going to tear down the Coliseum. … We don’t get any joy just going in and tearing down structures that have a history like that. … It will be a wide open process, particularly with regard to the fate of the Coliseum.”