Since its opening in October 2011, users of the Shelby Farms Greenline were greeted by graffiti and boarded windows at an abandoned Binghampton apartment complex overlooking the entrance of the greenline on Tillman.
But thanks to the work of the Binghampton Community Development Corporation (CDC) and Mayor A C Wharton, the blighted property has received a total transformation.
Now known as Tillman Crossing (previously, the complex didn't have a name), the building boasts a fresh coat of white paint, new windows, and a complete renovation to the interior.
"Other than the shell, everything else is new — doors, windows, heating and cooling system, sheetrock, paint, floors, parking lot, garden plot, landscaping, name, address, roof," said Robert Montague, executive director of the Binghampton CDC. "There's even a new water fountain for the greenline folks to use, and it's wheelchair accessible."
The property was previously uninhabitable, Montague said. A property manager was living on-site, but the rest of the building was empty and in bad condition.
The road to its transformation was paved when Mayor A C Wharton's administration sued the property owner under the property nuisance law around the time of the greenline's opening.
"If a property is not being maintained, someone can bring suit against it. The judge can appoint a receiver to improve the property. But in this case, we brokered a deal with the previous owner to acquire it for back taxes. The city had to release a lien that was owed for us to take the title," Montague said.
With funding from some neighborhood churches and Neighborhood Stabilization Program money from the state, the CDC was able to begin rehabbing the property a little over a year ago.
Tillman Crossing is welcoming its first set of residents this week.
Eighty percent of the units are reserved for households that bring in 80 percent of the median income — $30,400 for a single person or $46,250 for a family of four.
"We've converted one unit into a laundry, and one unit will be rented to the Shelby Farms Park Conservancy for their greenline ranger's office," Montague said.
Additionally, the Binghampton CDC renovated an apartment complex across the street from the greenline, and they've added park space — Crenshaw Park — across from the greenline's entrance. A surveillance camera in the park feeds into the Memphis Police Department's Real-Time Crime Center.
"I think this Tillman project will connect more communities, specifically underserved communities, to healthy living," said Laura Adams, executive director of the Shelby Farms Park Conservancy.
Montague agrees: "I've been getting a great deal of comments about how the look and change is viewed by the neighbors and how they appreciate the project. The neighborhood is putting a better foot forward. I think this project is one of many in the city that shows that things are changing for the better."