Greater Memphians whose daily commutes rarely take them off the interstate and through Memphis’ inner-city neighborhoods can be forgiven for not truly realizing the devastating impact blight has on a neighborhood.
Last week Environmental Court Judge Larry Potter handed down a contempt of court ruling against Brent McElwee, sentencing him to 15 days in jail for ignoring nearly a year’s worth of court orders involving his more than 40 Atlantic Apartments properties in Highland Heights.
To tackle the problem of vacant properties, Memphis is acknowledging that it needs help.
With the release and subsequent endorsements of its Neighborhood Blight Elimination Charter, Memphis has charted a new course in its long history of fighting blighted properties and offers other cities a potentially new path.
Sheila Jordan Cunningham, executive director of the newly established Blight Authority of Memphis (BAM), and Sohil Shah of Polsinelli PC, delivered a presentation about their work at the Neighborhood Blight Elimination Summit. Learn more about BAM and what they can do to help transform our community by downloading a PDF of their presentation here.
The Memphis Blight Elimination Charter, developed by a team from the public and private sector and coordinated by Neighborhood Preservation, Inc., sets up a framework for tackling the issue and paves the way for the development of a blight elimination team and action plan.
“While other major American cities have adopted blight elimination plans and frameworks, Memphis will still be the first city to adopt a comprehensive neighborhood blight elimination charter,” says attorney Steve Barlow of Neighborhood Preservation Inc. (NPI), the nonprofit agency spearheading the charter process.
Over the last several years, government, business and philanthropic entities have increasingly realized that it takes collaboration to make a dent in the community’s social ills. The Blight Elimination Summit and the Memphis Blight Elimination Charter are another fulfillment of that reality.
Blighted properties, overgrown lots and abandoned buildings are not unique to Memphis. But Memphis is the only city with a blight elimination charter that affirms cross-sector commitment to uproot the causes of blight and prevent further decline.