HOW TIF WORKS
The CRA uses Tax Increment Financing (TIF) to fuel community-driven change that otherwise may not occur. TIF is essentially the increase in real property tax revenue (after the base year) within the neighborhood. This is captured in a fund and dedicated for neighborhood improvements such as housing, streets, sidewalks, parks, and much more. While some TIFs focus on commercial development, redeveloping downtown areas, tourist attractions and even suburbs, the Uptown TIF is different. This TIF is guided by the community’s priorities, which provides the unique opportunity to partner with organizations, small businesses, and residents to engage and invest in the revitalization of the community.
Uptown TIF District Neighborhood Profiles
The history and future of the Uptown TIF District is a shared North Memphis history from one neighborhood to the next. Yet, each community holds its own unique identity. Take a moment to read through a brief history of each of the communities we support. Click the link below the description to learn more about programs offered in each neighborhood.
Harbor Town is a premiere Memphis neighborhood overlooking the mighty Mississippi and the Wolf River. Known for its scenic parks, luxurious homes, apartments, and walkable shops and eateries, this Mud Island community brings out the best in Memphis style and charisma. Developed by the Henry Turley Company in 1989, the community was one of the first to venture into the new urbanism movement, essentially, a community designed for human interaction. Single family homes and apartments were built around a live, work and play center, including: a school, a grocery store, a salon, a gym, several restaurants and parks. The Tax Increment Funding from this booming neighborhood helps make new development in the Uptown TIF district possible.
Everyday, nearly 25,000 of America’s brightest minds in medicine commute to the Memphis Medical District for work and school. There are more than a dozen premiere medical colleges, universities, offices and hospitals in the 2.6 mile radius located between Midtown and Downtown. However, the area has seen vast disinvestment in the last 50 years. For this reason, the CRA seeks to partner with neighbors and other organizations to restore a surrounding well-functioning neighborhood equipped with walkable streets, sidewalks and communal spaces.
The Bickford Community Center is a pillar in the neighborhood offering sought-after aquatics programming and other outreach opportunities, especially for youth and senior citizens.
Believed to have gotten its name from the frequent sight of bears sipping from a stream of water flowing from the Wolf River stream, Bearwater was once a bustling neighborhood. It was filled with multiple convenient stores, barber shops, bars, and lounges on it’s main drag, 2nd street. While much has been done in the way of restored housing development, the area has yet to see a retail and commercial resurgence like the Bearwater of the 1970s and 80s. The CRA is proud to be a part of the community’s restoration through partnership with the new Grind City Brewing Company and the upcoming development of the Chelsea Greenline, a 2.5 mile stretch of unused railway that will soon become a trail connecting Bearwater and Uptown to New Chicago, the Wolf River Greenway, The Mississippi River Trail, St. Jude, and nearby schools.
The Industrial Revolution brought many factories and jobs to North Memphis. This entire region of the city was marked by the diversity of immigrants, black, whites, old and young. Back then, finding home in North Memphis meant finding work. Some believe Smokey City got its name from smoke that spewed out of factories into the stratosphere. Other neighbors say the name came from the area being one of the oldest historically Black neighborhoods in Memphis where several Civil Rights Movement leaders and activists lived. Whatever the case, the CRA is currently working diligently with residents to restore the quaint and beautiful homes, streets and alleys that make Smokey Citians proud. Smokey City was one of 3 communities (including New Chicago and Scutterfield) to be added to its neighborhood reinvestment plan through TIF funding in January 2020.
New Chicago was once a thriving neighborhood from the 19th century to the 20th century filled with vibrant businesses and growing families. For nearly 50 years, 85 acres of New Chicago was dedicated to the world’s largest rubber tire manufacturing plant, Firestone Tire and Rubber Company. At its peak, Firestone employed 7,000 people, and most were New Chicago residents. The rich history of New Chicago also includes its strong political voice and home of the first accredited black high school in Shelby County, Manassas High School. The New Chicago Community Development Corporation currently houses the Memphis Black History Museum which features local, national and international artifacts of African American history. Since the closing of Firestone in 1983, jobs and population have consistently dwindled creating blight and deterioration throughout the area. New Chicago was one of 3 communities (including Smokey City and Scutterfield) to be added to its neighborhood reinvestment plan through TIF funding in January 2020.
North Parkway, historically the Speedway Terrace, was created under the auspices of the 12 mile Memphis Parkway system in 1904. The street was known as a Speedway because of races held by horse drawn carriages and later by cars. Noted for its architecture and community planning, North Parkway has maintained its character as a flourishing Midtown district and continues to attract middle-income families as a desirable area. This remarkable neighborhood was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998. The attractive tree lined corridors in the North Parkway district connect with Downtown, Rhodes College and the Crosstown Concourse. Today the CRA works with neighbors to maintain the integrity of these historic homes and the community.
Although Greenlaw was renamed Uptown in 1999, many still connect with it’s deep history. Nestled between the Wolf River to the West, 7th street to the East, Chelsea to the North and AW Willis to the South, this small community (along with the City of Chelsea) was annexed to Memphis in 1870. Greenlaw was a place of prosperity for all ethnicities until the sanitation strike of 1968. Despite a major exodus of white neighbors, the community continued to flourish through the 80s. But during the 90s, Greenlaw experienced major disinvestment. Greenlaw, along with The Pinch District was a benefactor of the Hope VI project, an effort to revitalize the neighborhood. The community has continued to see restoration over the last 20+ years. The CRA now partners with neighbors, nonprofits and businesses to promote the area’s longevity and mirror its success throughout the rest of the Uptown and Binghampton TIF districts
Uptown and the Pinch were joined together in the 1990s and despite sharing history for the past 170 years, they were considered separate neighborhoods. The Pinch heralded as the city’s first settlement and commercial district. Some say the name Pinch derived from the ‘pinch gut” appearance of the famished residents of the area. Others believe the name to be indicative of the rare sight of diverse ethnic groups living in one communal “pinch” of space when businesses and factories like Firestone, International Harvester, Maybelline and others brought jobs to the area. In the late 1990s, the Hope VI project called for a massive redevelopment of Hurt Village and the Lauderdale Court housing projects, expanding the district. This robust project represented a 150 block area in northern Downtown. Today, Uptown is home to a Memphis jewel, St. Jude and a host of residents who enjoy both the proximity of a lively Downtown Memphis and quietness of a suburban neighborhood.