City of Memphis awarded $30 million grant to renovate Foote Homes

$30 million grant to develop Foote Holmes
Published: Sep. 28, 2015 at 2:02 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 28, 2015 at 9:19 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Foote Homes is the last public housing development in Memphis, but soon, the complex will be knocked down.

A $30 million grant was provided to City of Memphis by United States Department of Housing and Urban Development to be used to redevelop Foote Homes and revitalize the city.

At one time, the grant was met with heavy resistance. But now, the residents who live in the complex located less than one mile from FedExForum, say they are in favor of the plan.

"I think it's nice. They will give the children a nicer place to play," said a Foote Homes resident.

"Safer neighborhoods, for one. Also better job opportunities," agreed Monique Thomas.

City leaders said the newly dubbed "South City Memphis" will transform the downtown area.

"This has an opportunity for Memphis like we never had before," said Congressman Steve Cohen, U.S. House of Representatives.

The 420-unit public housing complex will become 712 senior and family-style apartments with a grocery store, education center, and jobs program.

Betty Isom used to be one of the project's most vocal opponents.

"I was in public housing almost 30 years. I moved out, got my own place, got a house," she said. "The light bill is the hardest thing for me now because it's so high."

The grant was in jeopardy all month after Robert Lipscomb, the city director who applied for the grant, resigned over sexual misconduct allegations.

Cohen said he had to convince HUD's secretary that Memphis wouldn't miss a beat.

"I got Pitt Hyde (AutoZone founder) and Henry Turley (Downtown Memphis developer) to commit more dollars and assured the secretary the synergies would be there," he said.

So what will happen to current Foote Homes residents?

"All of the families at Foote Homes now will have section 8 vouchers to transition to other housing in the City of Memphis," said HUD Regional Director Ed Jennings.

"They will have first dibs, if you will, to come back," Memphis Mayor A C Wharton added. "They will not be just put out."

Cohen's office says the contract will be signed at the end of the week, giving the city access to the funds.

Mayor A C Wharton and other city leaders held a news conference Monday about the $30 million grant. Click here to watch the full announcement.

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