Midtown hotel could be transformed for low income housing

MEMPHIS, TN - (WMC-TV) – From a supermarket to another hotel, the options seem endless for an Overton Square eyesore, including the possibility of low income housing.

Developers of a discount motel previously pulled out of a deal for the old French Quarter Inn. The supermarket chain Fresh Market has shown interest. But right now, low income housing may very well be a "plan C."

Many in Midtown are all for providing access to affordable housing.

"Housing is needed, especially now with people who have children and need places to live," said Midtown resident Adrienne Brooks.

But low income housing is the last thing they want to see on the site of the old French Quarter Inn.

"I mean, if I had my druthers I would get a grocery store in here, something to compete with Kroger," Erin Pounders, a Midtown resident said.

The Overton Square entertainment district is in the process of being re-developed, and those behind the 35 million dollar project are reportedly studying the feasibility of a boutique hotel for the old French Quarter property. But the hotel's current owners say nothing has been negotiated.

Managing partner Don Pemberton clarified in an email by writing, "We are open for offers but are in fact pursuing financing for low income housing." Which immediately prompted reaction.

"I think that land is too valuable for that type of use," said Memphis Heritage director June West.

West once worked for a developer and is not interested in saving the circa 1984 hotel. But, like other neighbors, is not sold on low income housing.

"I really don't think that's necessarily appropriate there, nor do I think anybody would really buy into it, in that area," she said.

Already vacant for the last four years, it may take another few for something to happen here. Low income housing could include senior assisted living. Meanwhile, Overton Square developers could still make an offer if they determine a new hotel here makes sense.

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