Memphis City Council approves $15M for Crosstown Project - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis City Council approves $15M for Crosstown Project

Developers call the vacant Sears building an urban magnet. But some council members could not get on the same page about voting for its redevelopment. Developers call the vacant Sears building an urban magnet. But some council members could not get on the same page about voting for its redevelopment.

(WMC-TV) - It was at times a spirited debate among council members Tuesday as the Memphis City Council talked about revitalizing the old Sears Crosstown building and the area around it.

The council approved their $15 million promised to complete the $175 million needed for the project.

Developers call the vacant Sears building an urban magnet. But some council members could not get on the same page about voting for its redevelopment.

The 14-story building's anonymous owners want a group of local investors to buy the property and redevelop it.

City director of housing and community development Robert Lipscomb says that cannot come soon enough.

"All other cities are moving ahead. We're still sitting here debating it. If we're talking, they're moving ahead and it puts us further and further behind," said Lipscomb.

Lipscomb says the taxpayer impact on the nearly $200 million project is minimal. He says the project is funded through federal dollars.

Some agree it is money well spent.

"If we want something to happen, this is a project we need to move on," said council member Joe Brown.

During committee, some council members felt the redevelopment vote was being pushed. They said they were not prepared to vote for it.

"It feels like somebody's trying to push something down my throat, constricting it and not allowing it to go down because I have so many questions," said council member Janis Fullilove.

One council member even questioned the decision by the owners of the Sears building.

"I'm sure they had plenty of time to digest the gravity of purchasing a building like Crosstown. They didn't make a decision in two hours. Why should you ask us to do it?" said councilman Harold Collins.

A large number of Crosstown supporters showed up to the meeting.

Copyright 2013 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

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