Last week, many Memphians found property tax bills in their mailboxes, and if anyone hoped the new appraisals wouldn't really affect how much they owed, they were sadly mistaken.
But there's nothing new, as they say, about death and taxes. And in our July 15, 1993, issue John Branston reported on the impact of that year's appraisals on commercial properties.
"Now the big boys get theirs," he wrote. "Owners of several department stores, malls, and apartments got increases of 50 percent or more over their 1991 appraisals." For example, the Shelby County Assessor's Office appraised the JCPenney store in Raleigh Springs Mall at $6.9 million; the old value was $2.9 million.
Even so, Branston pointed out that sometimes those numbers didn't "stick" since owners of high-profile commercial properties were usually successful at getting their appraisals lowered. "Nearly all owners of parcels worth $1 million or more appeal to the Board of Equalization or try to negotiate a lower figure with the assessor. Big reductions ... have been well-publicized and criticized."
Looking back on it, perhaps the assessor was just trying to get the money while he could. In 1993, here's what our malls were worth:
• Mall of Memphis: $60.7 million
• Hickory Ridge Mall: $52.6 million
• Oak Court Mall: $36.1 million
• Raleigh Springs Mall: $30.8 million
Only Oak Court is thriving 16 years later (currently appraised at $49.8 million). Raleigh Springs, struggling without JCPenney or other major stores, is now appraised at just $2.2 million. The other two? Gone.