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Face Lift Plans For The Pinch District

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) - There will be a lot of “face-lifting” going on in Memphis over the next few years. Shelby County commissioners got a chance to hear about the plans for the Pinch District Wednesday. And Local 24’s Mike Matthews was there.

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is in the middle of a more-than billion dollar expansion plan, and the hopes are the neighborhood around the hospital will become a gateway to Memphis.

Sometimes City Council members and Shelby County Commissioners don't agree on things. That's an understatement. In this case, this big project in the Pinch District, they can agree on it. Shelby County Commissioners can, because it’s not going to cost them any money.”

Right now, the pinch district resembles an empty sandwich. You've got the Bass Pro pyramid store on one end, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital on the other. And in the middle, nothing, thanks to an 18-month-old moratorium on new construction.

There is no building moratorium for the folks at St. Jude. They are in the middle of an expansion plan that will cost billions, and they're paying for it all by themselves.

"The broad range of jobs that will result from this expansion will create employment opportunities for our citizens,” says Richard Shadyac of ALSAC/St.Jude. “… and also serve as a magnet to attract top notch talent from all across the world."

With all those new people walking around, the hospital and city officials want to have the old Pinch District looking good, really good, with apartments and restaurants, all of that bragging stuff.

"We want to develop a new sense of arrival when you come into this city,” says Paul Young of Housing And Community Development. “There's 40-million visitors, or passengers, that drive over that bridge every year. When they drive over that bridge we want them to have a new sense of arrival. To see something exciting that makes them want to pull of the interstate and spend money in this city and county."

Most commissioners loved it. But commissioner Steve Basar wants to make sure money goes to the Pinch.  "Here's what I'm concerned about commissioners. I'm gonna call it the bait and switch."

No date has been set on when all of these things will come together. It is a big project, one that's been talked about for a long time that finally looks like it might be moving. 

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