North Memphis residents split over plan to bring transitional home for ex-offenders to community

Neighbors split over planned residential facility

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - New plans for a once shut down barber school first came to our attention on Nextdoor.

Neighbors are campaigning against the proposed transitional home -- we found over a dozen letters citizens wrote to city leaders asking them to deny a special use permit.

Still, the Shelby County Land Use Control Board approved the permit and now residents say they’re fighting to save their neighborhood.

“You know when I moved over here it was ‘shoot em up bang bang,‘” said resident Porsche Stevens. “That has died down. The community is changing and we want to see that growth happen.

Stevens lives in North Memphis, and admits the Klondyke neighborhood struggles with blight.

But she says this community is on the rise with the county recently turning over 150 parcels to a community non-profit for redevelopment and the community being just a 2-3 minute drive from the new Crosstown Concourse.

She says plans to turn a former barber school on Jackson Avenue into a transitional home is the wrong move.

“That facility is right in the middle of a neighborhood, a residential neighborhood and a community that’s going through revitalization and development,” said Stevens.

Stevens is also president of the Crosstown Memphis Community Development Corporation and says the Jackson Corridor has great potential for business development.

The property owner wants to rehab this property into a residential facility for 50 men who are either ex-felons, homeless or have mental health conditions.

“More importantly the proposed facility would increase safety concerns for residents,” said Stevens.

But not everyone disagrees with the proposed project. We spoke to at least three people who declined to go on camera. They say any project that would bring revenue to the community is a good thing.

We also spoke to the property owner, Torrus Brooks, over the phone who agrees with some of his supporters.

“And now my building is sitting for a year, dilapidated, they’ve stolen units of of it,” said Brooks. “If the community wants to come and rent the property and do something differently I told them even before I’d be willing to entertain.”

Otherwise, he’s moving forward with his plans.

He says residents should rest assured that the facility will be run professionally and shouldn’t be worried about their potential new neighbors who just happen to be ex-offenders.

“These are the same people that was born and raised in Shelby County, some of them are coming back to their same community,” said Brooks.

The next stop for this project is to be presented to the City Council which is scheduled for Aug. 4.

We called City Council Member Michalyn Easter-Thomas who represents the North Memphis neighborhood about this matter, she said no comment.

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