A blighted apartment building at the corner of Sam Cooper and Tillman may be the Binghampton neighborhood's solution to its food desert problem.
The building, which sits on the southeast corner of the intersection, has been deteriorating for years, but until a few months ago, 22 of the 24 apartment units were occupied.
"We acquired the building about three months ago," said Robert Montague, executive director of the Binghampton Development Corporation (BDC). "It was fairly full, but we gave people some relocation assistance."
Some of those residents, whom Montague described as mostly singles and couples, were relocated into apartments owned by the BDC, which over the years has acquired and rehabbed a number of properties along Tillman and the surrounding neighborhood. Others moved into other properties owned by the former landlord of the building at Sam Cooper and Tillman.
"The building had just deteriorated to the point where people shouldn't have to live there anymore," Montague said.
He said the previous owner had been cited by the Memphis Fire Department because the building wasn't in compliance with building codes.
"The owner wasn't economically able to address those [problems], so he agreed to sell to us. We're addressing those problems by removing the property," Montague said.
It will cost about $380,000 for the BDC to demolish the property, and it should be done within a month, Montague said. Eventually, the BDC hopes to replace it with a full-service grocery store. They're currently working on getting commitment from a grocery anchor.
"We think the traffic pattern and accessibility really lends itself to a viable grocery store that would provide food access and about 70 to 80 new jobs. It would just really be a symbol of change and hope for the neighborhood," Montague said.
If and when the grocery store is constructed, it would fall in the path of the planned Hamp Line bike lane, which will connect Overton Park to the Shelby Farms Greenline via a two-way cycle track that will run east on Broad and south on Tillman to the greenline's western entrance.
"I think having something that raises visibility and provides a destination for trips along the Hamp Line would be good," said John Paul Shaffer, program director for Livable Memphis.
Shaffer said construction on the Tillman segment of the Hamp Line is expected to begin in the spring.
"There are a number of synergies that are coming together to help Binghampton get stronger and stronger including the Hamp Line that will come right past this site," Montague said.