By Taryn Graham
Oct. 27, 2016
The Shelby County Board of Commissioners approved a tax-financing plan on Oct. 27 that will allow public improvements to the Highland Strip area near the University of Memphis campus.
Mike Keeney, president of the University Neighborhoods Development Corporation, attended the commission meeting alongside University of Memphis’ President David Rudd.
“The redevelopment of the highland strip is critical to the growth of our University,” said Rudd. “Not only will the plan allow for a safer road along Highland, but it will also attract commercial investor who could potentially help revitalize the surrounding area as well.”
Improvements will include providing a more walk-friendly environment, having better seating and trash cans, mediating slower traffic and updating blighted buildings.
Shelby County Commissioners approval of the development plan set the stage for the changes that will take place in the private development hot spot. The tax -increment financing district will finance the project.
The TIF area obtained funds for the project through an increase in property taxes in the University District area. The money generated by the businesses in that area resulted in $83 million during a two decade period, Feeney said.
“The goals of the TIF are to basically help The University of Memphis retain and attract students to the facility, leverage the university in all that it does for the city of Memphis, and attract private investment,” Keeney said. “The TIF will also help to attract commercial investments that will be used in the surrounding areas.”
Rudd can already see the impact that the changes are having on the University District.
“You can already see the increase in activity in that district,” said Rudd. “If you walk around at 10 p.m now you will see the increased activity, and improved residential feel of that campus. it has changed the culture and the feeling of that campus.
Rudd stated, “I think you all understand the significance of our project the city council has approved it and I am so grateful that you all have as well.”
“I’m excited. I’m excited, because I was blessed to go to The University of Memphis,” said John Roland, a Shelby County Commissioner. “Of course I’m a big booster. There’s nothing more that I love than Tiger blue. I’m excited for The University. This is good for Memphis. This is good for Shelby County. I don’t see any downside to this.”