MEMPHIS, TN— The Overton Square project is estimated to cost $16 million and most of that will be paid by taxpayers. The Memphis City Council voted Tuesday night to move ahead with the project. Only about $2 million of the $16 million will come from the federal government. City Council says it plans to find other ways to ease the burden on taxpayers.
"Hopefully in the next 30 days, Director Robert Lipscomb of the Division of Housing and Community will be looking for more federal funding to replace that $14 million so the city burden could be reduced greatly,” said Councilman Jim Strickland.
Not only will the public be paying $14 million to revamp Overton Square, but Loeb Properties also plans to spend about $19 million on the project.
"We have to get a number of agreements worked out with the city and then architecture engineering we'll advance in the public part, and we're getting in gear on leasing," said Loeb Properties President Bob Loeb.
The make-over will include a new parking structure, but below ground will be something brand new for Memphis.
"That's one-million cubic square feet of storage for water, for rain water. Lick Creek runs through Midtown and frequently floods so this new storage is going to gather up that water, hold it and then slowly release it so that there's no flooding,” said Strickland.
There are also talks of building a 4-star hotel in the vacant French Quarter Inn on Madison.
"Overton Square has been kind of dead for a long time and this is going to help re-energize the entire area which is going to have benefits for the entire city,” said Strickland.
Taxpayer money will be used only for the parking lot and the flood-retention basin. Construction is scheduled to begin in March 2012.