MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - By this time next year, city officials expect to have broken ground on a youth sports complex and massive mixed-use development at the Fairgrounds. But the city’s approach to the project is changing.
The city had two developers in charge of project management on the entire site. But the city now will instead act as the project’s master developer. City officials said it gives them the final say of what happens on the property.
“We would be ceding control to what happens on the site. By us remaining as master developer we have the say,” said Paul Young, Director of Housing and Community Development for the City of Memphis.
That means city is now in the driver’s seat for the $140 million redevelopment of the Mid-South Fairgrounds. M&M Enterprises, a Memphis-area developer once targeted to manage the entire project, will instead focus on smaller aspects.
“We want this land to remain in the public realm. This land will be owned by the city, and the component developers for each portion will own their upward construction,” said Young.
The youth sports facility has a $60 million price tag and will be financed by philanthropic gifts, naming rights, and nearby sales tax revenues the state has authorized through a tourism development zone (TDZ).
The $80 million in private development is expected to include hotels, retail, office space, and apartments. City officials are working on new, updated renderings they have not yet released.
“It’s a huge opportunity for the Fairgrounds and the city. We believe we are creating a new space in the city that the existing residents will love and appreciate,” said Young.
Young said the city wants to replicate the vibe they saw in Dallas when the Memphis Tigers went to the Cotton Bowl in December. The district known as Texas Live! provides entertainment and dining options near the region’s professional baseball and football venues.
“It gives a strong visual of the type of atmosphere we’d like to have here at the Fairgrounds,” said Young.
Missing from the project is a revitalization plan for the historic Mid-South Coliseum. The city is hoping the area’s redevelopment will spur interest and investment in rehabbing the Coliseum.
WMC Action News 5 reached out to the Coliseum Coalition on Thursday. They were unavailable for an interview but said they are still leading tours of the facility, hoping to generate some interest.
The city expects all the work at the Fairgrounds to be complete and facilities open by the spring of 2022.