MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - $50 million of your tax dollars loaned to spend on a parking garage?
It may sound like a lot, but Memphis City Council members say it’s necessary to land one of the biggest projects the city has seen in recent history.
One lawmaker is worried that spending this much money will put other projects in jeopardy.
Developers want to turn blight and vacant lots along Union Avenue into a half a billion dollar project.
Union Row is expected to be a gamechanger, but one lawmaker is worries that it'll come at too hefty of a price.
“Five years ago, nobody would have dreamed of this project of this size in this kind of community in this location,” said Memphis City Council member Frank Colvett. “Half a billion. Brand new.”
Union Row is a proposed mixed-use development wIth more than 800 apartments, two office towers, a grocer, hotel, and developers say they need a garage...
A $50 million garage for 2,000 parking spots, to be exact, and they're asking the Memphis City Council to approve a loan to pay for it.
“I'm not a developer, but it would seem like the parking garage is a vital piece or else it would not be coming here in terms of recruiting tenants in terms of the parking needs they're going to have,” Colvett said.
However, Councilman Martavious Jones has a real concern about spending that much money on one single developer's garage.
The Pilot Extension Funds has a cap of $100 million for parking garages in Downtown Memphis.
Union Row will take half of that, and there have been three other recent projects totaling $21 million.
Jones is concerned there won’t be enough money left over for other projects.
“St. Jude is committed to spending well several billion dollars, so we don't know what the parking requirement will be for that area,” Jones said.
Downtown Memphis Commission Jennifer Oswalt says the developers will pay the loan back to replenish the fund.
Jones just worries it won’t circle back in time, but council members say this project is worth it.
“We have a bird in the hand, take it!” Colvett said.
This parking garage will be for public access as well. If all goes as planned, construction for Union Row Phase 1 project will begin in June.