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VOL. 133 | NO. 1 | Monday, January 1, 2018

Heritage Trail Historic Effort Get $45K Federal Grant

By Bill Dries

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The National Park Service has approved a $45,000 federal grant to the city of Memphis for the continued development of the Memphis Heritage Trail area.


U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen of Memphis announced the grant Thursday, Dec. 28.

“This funding through the National Park Service will help to further develop the Memphis Heritage Trail, which is an important American cultural and artistic landmark,” Cohen said in a written statement.

The grant money comes from the Historic Preservation Fund, which puts up funding toward surveys and inventories of historic properties for communities historically underrepresented in the National Register of Historic Places. The fund also helps with the development of nominations for the National Register for specific sites.

Heritage Trail is a 20-block area that includes the area south of FedExForum into South Memphis.

The trail concept began late in the administration of Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton under the name “Triangle Noir.”

In addition to leveraging public funding for infrastructure to secure private development funding, the concept includes highlighting African-American history in the area.

The city’s current mapping of the Heritage Trail area includes a civil rights loop, along with a business-entertainment historic loop, historic commerce loop, historic residential loop and areas that highlight historic people and events.

The people and events range from the “contraband camps” around Fort Pickering built by fugitive slaves who came to Memphis during the Civil War after the city was captured by Union forces, to black photographers who worked in the area from the late 19th century to the 21st century.

Right now, the most visible part of the project is the demolition of the former Foote Homes public housing development. It will be transformed into the South City mixed-use, mixed-income development area.

Foote Homes is the last of the city’s large public housing developments. The neighboring Cleaborn Homes public housing development, across Lauderdale Street from the eastern boundary of Foote Homes, has undergone a similar transformation and is now Cleaborn Pointe at Heritage Landing.

South City is being redeveloped with a $30 million Choice Neighborhoods federal grant along with $30 million in matching city capital funding.

Other parts of Heritage Trail that are already underway include “I Am A Man” Plaza – the open space commemorating the 1968 sanitation workers strike that broke ground last month across Pontotoc Avenue from Clayborn Temple.

Clayborn Temple has been open for events in the last year and is now moving toward permanent renovation.

The Universal Life Insurance building on the northeast corner of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Danny Thomas Boulevard also is under renovation.

Nearby, Mason Village, new rental townhomes for families, began construction late last year on E.H. Crump Boulevard just north of Mason Temple Church of God in Christ.

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