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VOL. 130 | NO. 62 | Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Hickory Hill’s Eden Square Ready for Takeoff

By Bill Dries

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Five years after the city bulldozed away any trace of the old Marina Cove apartment complex in Hickory Hill and gave the land to a community development corporation, Power Center Academy is about to break ground on what is called the Eden Square development.

Memphis City Council member Harold Collins calls the $40 million Eden Square development in Hickory Hill a “game-changer” for the area. Groundbreaking on the Power Center Academy Middle School is to come next month, with a performance center tentatively set to begin construction this summer.

(Daily News/Bill Dries)

New Direction Christian Church pastor Cassandra Harris said Power Center Academy Middle School should break ground in April followed by a summer groundbreaking on a performance center that is also part of the $40 million Eden Square development.

“It’s all come together at one time,” she told a group of 50 at the Hickory Hill church behind the redevelopment effort. “In a few weeks, you will see a lot of activity.”

What is now called Eden Square was stalled by the recession, but it has been resurrected as the downturn’s effects lifted enough to free up financing.

Harris said the housing that is part of the development plan is tentatively scheduled to open late this year or by spring 2016.

Power Center Academy is a charter school operated by Gestalt Community Schools. And the new middle school will be in addition to the academy’s high school that remains on the New Direction campus.

Gestalt applied in February, according to the Daily News Online, for a $7 million building permit with the city-county Office of Construction Code Enforcement specifically for the middle school.

Memphis City Council member Harold Collins, who hosted the town hall meeting Saturday, March 28, said there are also talks with an unnamed supermarket chain about being a retail tenant in Eden Square.

“Eden Square is a game-changer,” Collins said. “You will see a difference in your community.”

He added the momentum from Eden Square should have a ripple effect.

“We all remember what Marina Cove looked like,” he said of the vacant, 54-building apartment complex.

The city purchased it from Atlanta ownership for $650,000 and Collins said it was hard work politically to get the funding.

“Do you know this deal was almost gone for $650,000? A $40 million deal,” he said. “Do you know they had to call me in the middle of the night?”

But Collins and some of those at the town hall meeting aren’t as optimistic about the immediate future of Hickory Ridge Mall, owned by World Overcomer’s Church, and directly across Winchester from New Direction.

Collins said he’s reached out to the church numerous times about its plans for the mall.

“We have not had any discussion of a plan going forward,” he said.

PROPERTY SALES 105 193 8,028
MORTGAGES 120 239 9,024
BUILDING PERMITS 192 445 17,512
BANKRUPTCIES 27 69 5,228