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VOL. 130 | NO. 206 | Thursday, October 22, 2015

Binghampton, Uptown Grocery Projects Win Tax Breaks

By Madeline Faber

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Two community development groups are the first recipients of Community Builder PILOTS, a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes incentive housed at the Memphis-Shelby County Economic Development Growth Engine.

A Community Builder PILOT from EDGE will help a development group in Uptown attract a grocery store to the revamped site of the former Chism Trail Grocery.  

(Courtesy of EDGE)

Binghampton and Uptown are both USDA-Certified Food Deserts, and that could change with Community Builder PILOT incentives intended to attract grocery stores.

The Binghampton Development Corp. received a Memphis and Shelby County property tax reduction estimated to save $1.86 million over 15 years.

The Community Builder PILOT will help the BDC secure leases and financing and move forward with construction of its 48,000-square-foot commercial center by spring 2016.

The 16,325-square-foot grocery store should be completed by spring 2017 with the 10,000-square-foot junior tenant and 7,240 square feet of extra retail space following soon after.

The $6.8 million project will create 55 jobs.

The BDC signed a letter of intent with a national value grocer and has sent an LOI to a national household goods chain. It would not reveal the identities of the potential tenants.

“I think this project serves as an innovative prototype for inner-city development,” said Noah Gray, executive director with the BDC in his presentation. “A development like this is a tipping point for a neighborhood.”

“It says, East Memphis meet Binghampton, nonprofit meet for-profit. Biker meet walker, and we’re all coming together to share the space,” he added.

Also receiving a Community Builder PILOT is nonprofit group Memphis Land Bank-Uptown, an entity of Belz Invest Co. and Henry Turley Co.’s joint venture Lauderdale-Greenlaw LLC.

The 15-year tax break will save the development group $945,000 in their $4.8 million revamp of the former Chism Trail Grocery at 544 Jackson Ave.

Lauderdale-Greenlaw has spoken with numerous grocery chains, but they all have fallen short of committing to the neighborhood.

“The biggest issue has been when they do demographic studies or market studies, they look at the projection and think, ‘Well this isn’t quite going to make the sales that we need to feel comfortable, so we think that the PILOT is certainly going to do that,’” said Alexandra Mobley, vice president with Lauderdale-Greenlaw. “We think it’s going to lower their operating costs, lower their tax burden and then perhaps they can look at that sales number and think, ‘Well I can make this work.’”

The Community Builder PILOT will help the Uptown neighborhood secure a tenant for its 25,900-square-foot grocery store and hopefully lead to more private investment.

The grocery store is just one piece of MLB-Uptown’s larger vision.

The area between Mills Avenue, Seventh Street, A.W. Willis Avenue and Dunscomb Place calls for 20 townhouses; two multistory office/retail parcels at 21,800 square feet and 17,000 square feet; a 14,748-square-foot pharmacy; and plenty of streetscape improvements and parking.

The Community Builder PILOT was launched this year as a tool to help community development organizations work with private investors in aiding distressed areas that qualify for the federal New Markets Tax Credit program. Eighteen sites will be selected by the city of Memphis and Shelby County to apply for the Community Builder PILOT.

PROPERTY SALES 21 82 6,474
MORTGAGES 7 53 4,088
BUILDING PERMITS 240 353 15,714
BANKRUPTCIES 38 58 3,328