The developers behind the Union Row project want $50-million in financing for two parking garages. Without the help, the head of the Downtown Memphis Commission says the project won’t get built.
“We really think this is our chance to take a big step forward for Memphis,” said DMC President Jennifer Oswalt.
Oswalt says for the $950-million development to happen, the city needs to help get two parking garages financed. One would be at the corner of Beale and Fourth and the other would border Danny Thomas.
Plans for Union Row include apartments, office space, and a grocery store.
Oswalt says developers won’t get tenants if there’s not enough parking.
“They will not get the office tenants. They will not get the grocer. They can’t do it without parking,” said Oswalt.
Oswalt says the request is for a $50-million loan. It is not a grant or gift, but that’s is in addition to the $100-million worth of incentives already granted to the developers.
Memphis City Council members are split on whether helping to finance parking is a good idea.
“We want as much development downtown, but at what cost?” said councilman Martavius Jones.
“We wouldn’t do this for everybody, but we have real investors here. We have people that are very credible and are in this market space and are professionals, and the risk is alongside the city’s risk,” said councilman Worth Morgan.
Those close to the deal say without the incentives, the Union Row development is likely dead.
The county commission would also have to approve it. Commissioners will hear the presentation Wednesday.
The city council will vote on the issue in two weeks.