Union Row project could receive $100M in incentives

(WMC Action News 5)
Updated: Dec. 4, 2018 at 3:49 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Developers for the $950 million Union Row project could get as much as $100 million in public incentives for the deal.

That $100 million figure is the capped total amount. Still up for debate is how long those incentives will last.

Officials with the Downtown Memphis Commission are pushing for 30 years instead of 20.

“This is the critical stage we're in right now because if we do not get these approvals this project will not go forward,” said Kevin Adams with Big River Partners.

Adams is finding himself at Memphis City Hall pretty often these days.

The developer behind the $950 million mixed use apartment, restaurant, retail and hotel Union Row project is seeking property tax incentives to make phase 1 of the plan a reality.

“We are progressing so well in Memphis and we need to change the face of that area,” Adams said.

According to the Downtown Memphis Commission, currently the city and county collect $180,000 annually from the site of the future development.

If no incentives are granted, developers would be on the hook for 10 million annually.

However, if developers get the go-ahead for a tax increment financing district, they'll pay $3 million instead, with the money earmarked for infrastructure like street lights, roads and sewers.

The DMC says they’ll have to get state approval to extend the incentives from the initially proposed 20 years to 30 years.

“We have needs across all of downtown for public assets and we wanted to make sure that we had some flexibility to make sure that we fully fund what is needed for this project and also meet the other needs of downtown,” said Jennifer Oswalt with the Downtown Memphis Commission.

Phase 1 of Union Row includes roughly $500 million in development.

Developers say they want to start closing on the properties involved in February 2019.

“All of the development we’re seeing in downtown is an example of how we’re densifying the core of downtown,” said Big River Partners Chief Operations Officer Doug McGowen.

Memphis City Council is expected to take a vote of approval of the project's economic impact plan in two weeks.

A Downtown Memphis Commission board would also have to authorize the incentives.

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