Nonprofits buy South Memphis properties to revitalize, clean up blight in area, mayor says

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The road to a South Memphis renaissance – that’s what Mayor Lee Harris’s office is calling an ongoing effort to clean up and revamp South Memphis.

71 South Memphis properties are now in the hands of two non-profits, The Works Inc. and Southeast Regional Development Corp. (SRDC). The two groups will turn them into affordable housing, greenspace, grocery stores, and more.

The Works Inc. isn’t new to Memphis, according to Harris who said that the nonprofit has already been developing and financing single-family homes and redeveloping multi-family properties in Shelby County. In South Memphis, Harris said The Works Inc. plans to establish a new Lincoln Park subdivision on the site of the old Lincoln Junior High School and the original Southside High School on South Orleans St.

SRDC also has a long history of revitalization, Mayor Harris said.

According to Harris, SRDC has been transforming neighborhoods for 30 years, including a set-aside program for low-income families, and has been meeting with South Memphis residents for several months, discussing what those residents want to see in housing and retail.

The properties acquired were specifically chosen due to the blight in that area in hopes of cleaning up and redeveloping those areas, the mayor said.

People we spoke to in South Memphis earlier today said there’s a long list of things that need to be done to improve the area – not just improving blight.

“I’d say the streets need fixing, especially in our neighborhoods,” said Harriet Davis.

“We need more security, we need more police on the scene, we need more stores and more jobs in this community to keep the violence down,” said Kimberly Johnson.

For Kimberly Johnson, South Memphis looks and feels the same since she was a child.

“South Memphis has not changed, it needs a change.”

One of the main things those residents said they want to see is a new grocery store after a 50-year-old store in the 38106 ZIP code closed its doors.

“They know residents want to own their homes. But to do that, the community needs better housing stock. The transfer of these properties could be a big step in that direction,” Harris said.

But not everyone is on board. Harriet Davis says she’s lived in her home since 1973 and there’s been an increase in interest lately.

“I think it’s wrong. I have so many people calling me wanting me to sell my house in my whole neighborhood and I think that’s a slap in the face.”

The Works Inc. and SRDC paid $1,500 to cover the transaction fees for each property, many of which were in the Land Bank due to delinquent taxes, according to Harris.

Some of the areas included in the transaction are: 78 Richmond, 1343 Mississippi Blvd.

  • 715 Richmond, 0 South Orleans
  • 0 East Trigg, 589 East Trigg
  • 1424 South Willie Mitchell Blvd.
  • 1350 South McMillan
  • 1384 Leflore
  • 807 Bullington
  • 835 Bullington
  • 1322 McMillan
  • 1348 Mississippi Blvd.
  • 1434 Faither
  • 958 Kirkland Ave.
  • 1437 Mississippi Blvd.
  • 838 Kerr Ave.
  • 834 Kerr Ave.
  • 830 Kerr Ave.
  • 826 Kerr Ave.
  • 1490 South Majorie St.
  • 1582 South Leland St.
  • 1586 South Leland St.
  • 1515 Marjorie.

FOX13 News was unable to get an interview with the two organizations on Thursday.