MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A company from Florida wants to turn The Red Roof Inn on Elvis Presley into a low-income apartment complex. One-Stop Housing LLC is proposing a 137-unit in an area that should be a Whitehaven Tourism District. The company said in their proposal that the project is "harmonious" with the character of Whitehaven.
Michael Harris with the Greater White Haven Economic Redevelopment Corporation calls that an insult towards the community.
"When you are trying to revitalize and when you are trying to grow and do better, low income is not the way to go," he said.
The company has already converted two properties off of Springbrook Avenue and Airways Blvd. This third complex would be similar to those low-income apartments. Rent would be about $650 a month, and they wouldn't accept vouchers or check credit. Tenants would just have to pass a background check. If the Land Use Control board approve the project, the company said it would take about 18 months to finish.
Several community organizations including Academy for Youth Empowerment, I Love Whitehaven Neighborhood and Business Association, Respect the Haven CDC and a host of community members want something better for the neighborhood. A petition has been created opposing the proposed apartment complex, it has nearly 300 signatures as of Tuesday afternoon.
"Look at the years of disinvestments that got us into this place. When will it stop?" Harris said.
Since this proposed apartment complex will be month to month without accepting government vouchers and credit checks, Harris said this is won’t truly serve the community. The Red Roof Inn location is known for criminal activity. Just in the last year, there have been at least 19 incidents ranging from assault, theft, and vandalism.
"Your marketing to the same people, the same people who are here, who don't have lease agreements, are going month to month paying an astronomical rate in an unsafe environment," He said. "So yea, that's what we are going to get."
Red Roof Inn sits about a mile away from the Graceland mansion and about three miles from the Memphis airport. Harris said the city should work together to think of a new property that would add more value to tourists and surrounding businesses.
"The businesses we know we can attract with what this proposal will bring will be liquor stores, payday lenders, etc," he said.
If it must be converted to an apartment, he suggests making it market-rate apartments for young professionals, attracting new businesses to the area. GWERC works to bring new businesses to Whitehaven in an effort to revitalize the neighborhood. He said businesses will not want to open up shop in an area that doesn't have anything to offer.
In the last three years, GWERC has helped start 11 new businesses in Whitehaven. Starting next year the organization will be launching its exterior improvement grant program. He said if this apartment complex passes it will create setbacks and will make them have to work harder to show business owners the community's potential.
A land-use control board meeting will be held this Thursday morning to hear both sides. We've reached out to one-stop housing for comment but the owners didn't get back to us.