Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Council Recap: Pre-K, Historic Districts, and Grocery Stores

Posted By on Wed, Apr 25, 2018 at 11:41 AM



The Memphis City Council approved a special fund Tuesday that will go toward the $16 million that the city needs to fund universal prekindergarten. The goal is to contribute $6 million to the fund every year beginning in fiscal year 2021 in order to expand from 7,000 pre-K seats in the county to 8,500.

The plan to expand pre-K has long been a goal of Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, and was first introduced in March.

Historic Overlay Districts

Tuesday the council also began a discussion of an ordinance that will address some of the issues in Cooper-Young’s historic overlay district guidelines.

This comes two weeks after the council approved the long-sought landmark status of the neighborhood, conditional on the council returning to the issue to address the “major inconsistencies” in the guidelines.

Councilman Kemp Conrad who is drafting the ordinance said Tuesday it will address the “black holes” in the guidelines like what structures can and cannot be demolished. The ordinance could also allow homeowners and developers to go before the Memphis Landmarks Commission on the front end of projects, rather than seek approval after the plans are drafted.

Additionally, the ordinance will address whether or not homeowners will have to appear in Shelby County Chancery Court to appeal a decision by the Landmarks Commission.

Conrad said he’s been meeting with community stakeholders and will continue to collaborate with them throughout the process of passing the ordinance, which will be heard on the first of three readings in two weeks.

Grocery stores

A comprehensive plan could be implemented to develop grocery stores in Memphis’ food-insecure neighborhoods. Consulting firm Socially Twisted, that recently completed a grocery store feasibility study for two former Kroger locations here, is looking to enter a $174,000 agreement with the city to address the issue of food deserts.

Rhonnie Brewer of Socially Twisted said she’s come across a handful of grocery store studies done in other neighborhoods across the city and they all show the desire and need for grocery stores, she said, but each is missing the next steps.

For example, Brewer said the a study was done in the Medical District which showed the need for a grocery store, but a grocer couldn’t be secured. Brewer suggests creating a prototype of a grocery store that would work in Memphis’ low-income areas, and eventually recreating that prototype across the city.

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