An Easy Money Cash Center sign is visible through the future site of the University Park apartments. Photo by Brandon Dill for MLK50

The $58 million in tax breaks that EDGE has handed out for pricey apartments aren’t good for the city’s affordable housing shortage. They’re not good for local governments’ tax coffers either, since the tax breaks divert money that would have otherwise gone toward schools, roads or mass transit.

The clear winners: The six developers of the seven apartment projects under construction, almost all of which will be too expensive for the 43% of Memphis workers who earn less than $15 an hour. MLK50 wanted to know what these developers think their role is in providing affordable housing, so we sent them a survey. 

Related: New tax-subsidized apartments fail to address acute shortage of affordable housing.

The survey, sent in late August, also asked the apartments’ rental rates, their developers’ construction experience, especially in stressed neighborhoods, and other tax breaks they’ve received.

Only one developer, Adam Underwood of Water to Wine LLC, completed the survey.

Four developers – Water to Wine, 1544 Madison Partners, Finard Properties, and Central Junction LLC – said they would complete the questionnaire but did not. Scott Bojko, project consultant on the Central Lofts project, pointed to some answers within his PILOT application by Central Junction LLC. 

Makowsky Ringel Greenberg LLC, which is developing Madison@McLean Partners and Thrive@The Park, did not respond to multiple requests to complete the survey. 

The developers

1544 Madison Partners — Jay Lindy, Benjamin Orgel, Berlin Boyd, Adam Slovis, and Michael Mclaughlin

Madison@McLean Partners — Makowsky Ringel Greenberg LLC

Thrive@The Park — Makowsky Ringel Greenberg LLC

Link Apartments at Broad Avenue — Grubb Properties LPI

Central Lofts — Central Junction LLC

University Park Apartments — Water to Wine LLC

Poplar Plaza — Finard Properties LLC and Panther Residential Management

Here’s what the survey asked: 

  1. Of the units set aside for “low-income and moderate renters,” please list how many are studio apartments, 1-bedroom, 2-bedroom, 3-bedroom or 4-bedroom apartments.  Please list by size.
  2. What is the standard (i.e. not discounted) rental rate for each size of apartment offered by your development? (Please list the rate next to each unit size; e.g. studio, $XXX/month; 1 br, $XXX/month, 2 br, $XXX/month.)
  3. Aside from the project for which you/your company received a PILOT from EDGE, how many other apartment projects have you/your company built  in the past 10 years? Please give a number and list the projects, if any. 
  4. How many of those projects are in Memphis/Shelby County?
  5. How many of your company’s apartment developments have received PILOTs or other tax breaks/abatements from any government agency, such as Downtown Memphis Commission or Memphis Health, Education and Housing Board? Please list the projects that received the favored tax treatment and the agency that provided the relief.
  6. Have any apartment projects in which you have been involved been built without PILOTs or other tax breaks? Please name them.
  7. What developments have you/your company built in the last 10 years in chronically under-invested parts of Memphis, such as Binghampton, Orange Mound, Frayser,  Parkway Village? Please name the neighborhood and project, if any.
  8. What role do you think you/your company should play in providing affordable housing to the 43% of Memphis residents who earn less than $15/hour?

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