Memphis church leader wants to claim portion of Foote Homes land

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A Memphis bishop said he wants to lay claim to a piece of property ripe for development near Downtown Memphis as part of the $250 million overhaul of Foote Homes in the South City neighborhood.

Bishop David Hall pastors Temple COGIC church across the street, but it's a gym that he has a vision for and he wants to make it known.

Hall's church is a stone's throw from what used to be Foote Homes--the development founded by the Memphis Housing Authority in the 1940s and at one point, plagued with crime.

The site is now closed for demolition and slated to be rebuilt, in phases, into mixed income apartments.

The $29 million federal grant will allow the city and Memphis Housing Authority to leverage $250 million in neighborhood development.

Hall said he believes through his church and non-profit they can offer their own grassroots program called Life Together, which would house a health clinic, community theater, cyber cafe and other amenities, all inside the Old Porter Gymnasium, which has become a haven for vandals.

The building is currently unsecured but was previously used by Hall's church for anti-violence and other youth initiatives.

"We watched Foote and Clayborne housing projects grow. We watched them be torn down. We're still here and South City is coming. [It's] an incredible opportunity," Hall said.

Hall believes the first rights of a facility like this should go to groups that have played a role in the community over the years.

"Since we've been here, we believe we have a right to lay claim," he said.
Hall put a $2 million price tag on his effort. 
The city said it is aware of Hall's plans, and it's working through a public comment stage where they receive input from various parties about the neighborhood aspects of redevelopment.
The housing community across the street should be done by 2021.

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