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After many news stories, blog posts and neighborhood protests, Mayor Wharton, on Thursday, announced that demolition of the abandoned apartment buildings and houses in the Washington Bottoms area would proceed with haste.
One of many dilapidated buildings in the area
Briefly, this large piece of Midtown property, roughly bounded by Poplar on the north, Cleveland on the west, McNeil on the east and Court on the south, was purchased by developers with fabulous plans of revitalizing the area with a big box store (Target.Â Target?), other retail, and some nice housing.Â The developer WSG knocked down a few structures, then abanonded the remaining buildings to vandals, neglect and fire.Â WSG defaulted on their loan and was foreclosed by mortgage holder, Lehman Brothers, also in financial trouble, who erected a shabby fence around the property and continued the neglect.Â More details in Bianca Phillips’ story in the Flyer.
Track hoe ready to get to work
Today the gates bear the sign ofÂ Memphis Wrecking Company.Â We will be watching the progress of the demolition and restoration of the property.Â Hopefully we will see a nice green space until developers make their next move.
- Demolition begins at site of failed 28-acre Midtown Memphis development (commercialappeal.com)
- Another Midtown abandoned-building fire causes major damage (commercialappeal.com)
- Abandoned Midtown buildings to be demolished in area plagued by arson (commercialappeal.com)
We Midtowners can keep on dreaming about being able to buy decent underwear, cute bed and bath items, and toys for the kiddies, west of of East Parkway at our very own big-box department store. The vast urban area roughly bounded by McNeil, Poplar, Court and Cleveland was to be the site of not only a big-box store, but upscale high-density urban housing, and other mixed use community-enhancing goodies promised by the developers.
Hopes for the illusive big box took a big dashing last week as the property slipped into foreclosure.Â The Daily News reports that the Miami-based WSG Memphis LLC, the Miami-based firm has defaulted onÂ a $14 million loan from Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. dated April 30, 2007.
I saw a presentation by the developers a couple of years ago, and they released some renderings and there was a general feeling of excitement that something big was going to happen in this blighted area.Â Funny that after the initial hoopla, not much happened.Â A few of the structures were demolished and hauled away but many, especially multi-unit apartment buildings were left to squatters, vandals, fire and the elements. The site was un-fenced until recently, when a ramshackle chain link fence was installed.Â And now I guess it becomes a tax payer expense to secure the area.
Maybe American Wholesale Grocers would consider the site to make their already-preparedÂ and aborted plans for Overton Square come to life – and maybe add a Family Dollar for good measure.
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When I read this article in the Memphis Business Journal, a few days ago, I didn’t realize the facelift had already begun at 1311 Union, in Midtown Memphis. I snapped a couple of pictures when I was in the vicinity today. Very recognizable images from the artists who have provided posters for the Center for Southern Folklore’s Memphis Music an Heritage Festival. A great improvement to this neglected section of Midtown.
1331 Union - East (Cleveland) Side
1331 Union - North (Union Ave.) Side