MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - If the Chisca Hotel isn't redeveloped, you can forget about bringing new jobs and more tax revenue to Memphis, according to the Downtown Memphis Commission.
The historic hotel just celebrated its 100th birthday. Millions of dollars from both taxpayers and investors will ensure it sees a hundred more.
Many have tried and all failed to redevelop the Chisca Hotel. Its owner has it under contract with a group willing to give it another shot. The difference between success and failure this time around all comes down to you.
“When visitors from around the world come here, who consider moving here and moving jobs and moving investments here, they look around our city and they primarily look downtown,” said Downtown Memphis Commission President Paul Morris.
That’s where they eventually find the Chisca, in all its cancerous blight and unbecoming glory.
“If this is what downtown looks like, the city must not be worth moving to or moving jobs to,” projected Morris.
The Downtown Memphis Commission is courting investors to spend $17 million on the project to keep that from happening. The City of Memphis will have to hand over $2 million first.
“I would challenge anyone to read the operating budget or the capitol budget of the city of Memphis and tell me of all the things the city is spending money on, the Chisca is the least worthy,” Morris said.
City Councilman Bill Boyd can't argue with that. Sort of.
"The city is heavily leaning towards putting in the two million dollars," he said. But when asked if he plans to vote in favor of the funding, Boyd replied, "Uh, I really haven't decided on that yet."
Even if he and other council members vote for it, getting investors on board will be a tough sale.
“We got a lot of hurdles to cross and it's not just on the public side. We've got to attract private investors to spend over 17 million dollars on this project,” Morris said.
The campaign to save the Chisca Hotel has gone digital with a website to garner support for the project. Just visit savechisca.com
for more information.