VOL. 132 | NO. 151 | Tuesday, August 1, 2017
Binghampton, Uptown Redevelopment Efforts Move Forward While Waiting for the CRA
By Bill Dries
If Binghampton can get a proposal for tax increment financing (TIF) approved by the end of the year, it would mean an immediate $332,000 in capital and an estimated $26 million over the 30-year life of the TIF zone to sustain and further grow commercial and residential development in the area.
That’s what leaders of Binghampton’s efforts told Shelby County commissioners last week of their proposal for a TIF district. In a TIF, the increment of property tax proceeds from development within a geographic area are used to pay off bond debt for improvements in that area, or district. In this case, it’s an area of 2,800 parcels of real estate.
“We believe that capturing the increment is essential to the revitalization of the community,” said Noah Gray, executive director of the Binghampton Development Corp. “I think it is essential to grab that to prevent gentrification.”
A proposed TIF district for the Binghampton community could spur more commercial and residential development. (Daily News File/Andrew J. Breig)
There are differing positions and definitions of gentrification. The administration of Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and Strickland himself have taken the position that there is so much space to be developed in the city that gentrification – meaning the displacement of people currently in neighborhoods that might be redeveloped – isn’t possible.
“Gentrification is not so much Memphis’ problem. We deal more with poverty,” Gray said. “But I think if there’s a neighborhood that could experience gentrification, Binghampton is the neighborhood that can do that.”
Gray said the immediate infusion of TIF cash would prevent gentrification by financing housing efforts that “preserve affordability, develop affordability, create workforce housing, and develop significant job opportunities for residents of the neighborhood.”
Whitney Hardy, who owns a business and makes her home in Binghampton, told county commissioners the goal is redevelopment – residential and business – that is on Memphis’ terms.
“I don’t want to build a community that looks like Nashville or New York,” she said. “But I would hope we can build a community that looks like Memphis and celebrates the cultures that are here.”
Meanwhile, Memphis City Council chairman Berlin Boyd said the Community Redevelopment Agency, the city agency that has the Binghampton application for a TIF, remains a work in progress.
Strickland’s administration is seeking to strengthen the CRA to guide development in Uptown and Binghampton in a more detailed, hands-on way. The agency is still in search of a permanent full-time executive director after three postings of the position recently.
Until that hire happens, Boyd told those at a town hall meeting at the Greenlaw Community Center last week that St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has agreed to identify properties in Greenlaw and Uptown for development outside of the CRA. That includes finding developers to
take on those properties for development.
Boyd said St. Jude recently tried a few test properties in the area in a successful trial run of the interim concept.
It does not involve development of properties in the nine-block Gateway area between the St. Jude campus and the Pyramid. Nor does it involve facilities that would be used by St. Jude. The idea is to leverage private investment and development.
Similarly, the Binghampton Development Corp. would not be a developer necessarily. But in cases in which it might be, the BDC would recuse itself from the approval process for the use of TIF revenues and relinquish that role to the CRA.