Residents of downtown, HarborTown, and Mud Island will no longer have to travel long distances for gasoline and other items once a new convenience center is completed next spring. Uptown Place, developed by Jim Curtis of Tri-State Contractors and built by Guy Payne & Associates Architects, will offer many of the conveniences of everyday life. The mixed-use building, planned at 150 Auction Avenue between Main and Second streets, will contain a ground-floor convenience store with a BP/Amoco gasoline island and retail outlets, including food chains like Subway and a drug store. The second level will consist of 10 loft-style apartments. "We are trying for a quality development with this project," says Curtis. "We're trying to set a standard in downtown for high-scale developments." "The Center City Commission [CCC] is delighted to see the project, which is a larger part of the Uptown Memphis development project," says Jeff Sanford, CCC president. "This will change a dilapidated area into a vibrant, mixed-income area." The 25,000-square-foot development is a $3 million project that Sanford describes as "more than your usual strip shopping center." The CCC's finance corporation has issued Uptown Place an 18-and-a-half-year property-tax abatement initiative. "Many people have a misconception about tax abatements," says Sanford, referring to questions that have been raised about what are usually called freezes for developers. "Since 1979, there are only 141 active downtown abatements, and there are 6,000 total commercial projects in the district. Every project does not receive an abatement, only those projects the [CCC] knows will be completed with or without the tax freeze." With the CCC's support, Payne says there should be no problem leasing the retail and residential spaces. Curtis says construction is scheduled to begin in early October.