Ranting

Footprints

April 23rd, 2015

Inside and out and all around the city, our feet are on the move.

As published in The Daily News, April 24, 2015, and in The Memphis News, April 25-May 1, 2015

Socks 2

BIG STEPS.

Part of our vacation ritual involves underwear, kitchen gadgets, camp shirts, socks and shoes – all items available in branded abundance on the cheap at Tanger Outlets.

Our late spring odyssey to visit children and friends on the east coast takes us to the one in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and our late summer beach party includes the Labor Day sales at the one in Foley, Alabama.

And now the people-watching and deal-chasing social experiment that is discount mall shopping at Tanger – the crème de la crème of stuff at skim milk prices – is setting up shop right here.

I’m getting new socks and we’re all getting a lot more interesting feet around here lately.

Tanger Outlets on Church Road in Southaven will offer 70 or so stores in 310,000 square feet. To put that in perspective, the new Ikea will open next year out on I-40 with about that same number of square feet in one store. And if you think that’s something, you can just about fit all the Tanger Outlets and Ikea in the 500,000 or so square feet of the new Bass Pro opening Downtown in the Pyramid next week.

And we have still bigger fish to fry.

Target will soon fulfill their online orders from their new 900,000 square-foot distribution center here. And Crosstown Concourse – the reborn, repurposed Sears Crosstown – will soon revitalize a whole bunch of inner-city Memphis with one million square feet of mixed-used innovation in one building and they tore down 400,000 square feet to get to the million they wanted.

And we’re taking even bigger steps.

While it’s fair to question the incentives we offer and the public money we invest to attract and support projects like these – and I’ve questioned some in this space – it’s also fair to say the projects wouldn’t have happened without them. While the big payment-in-lieu-of-tax numbers (PILOT) that go to Ikea and Target get most of the ink and time and controversy, I’m encouraged by some of the smaller things the Economic Development Growth Engine for Memphis & Shelby County (EDGE) has been up to lately.

I’m encouraged by things like EDGE incentives to small inner-city businesses that will make a big difference in not only whether or not they’ll stay there, but whether or not they’ll survive, stabilizing their neighborhoods, providing jobs, returning pride.

I’m encouraged by things like the idea of the city and county Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) stepping under the EDGE tent to better coordinate efforts and cover inner-city projects. The CRA can assemble land and approve tax increment financing (TIF) to facilitate redevelopment, and EDGE can provide personnel and focus resources for the greatest impact in the areas of greatest need in Shelby County.

Whether it’s a million square feet in Crosstown, a half million Downtown, 300,000 each out east and down south, or 3,000 on Chelsea, it’s not just the size of the footprint, it’s the step it represents.

I’m a Memphian, and what’s developing right now is knocking my socks off.

 

I'm a Memphian by Dan Conaway

If you don’t read it, I’ll read it to you.

The book is available in print online and all over town and now in audio online at Amazon, Audible and iTunes, read by the author – columns, comments and character references for a city filled with it and often absolutely full of it. Take a look or a listen.

 

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