MEMPHIS, Tennessee — Porter Leath Home, a longtime supporting organization of Porter-Leath, has successfully sold its historic Manassas campus buildings to the Memphis and Shelby County Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA). This sale fulfills Porter-Leath's commitment to finding an owner that would preserve the historic campus.
Porter-Leath President Sean Lee expressed pride in delivering on their promise to find a community-minded partner and neighbor to acquire parts of the Manassas campus for future use. The partnership with CRA enables Porter-Leath to preserve its historic elements while continuing to use funds effectively to fulfill its mission.
Porter Leath Home Chair Lura Turner stated that the historic preservation of these properties has been a focus since 2016, and they are excited that their efforts have come to fruition.
The sold buildings include a complex of four connected structures, Gould Cottage at the south end of the campus, and three acres of land. Porter-Leath will maintain ownership of Sarah's Place and Early Head Start on the campus, as it continues to operate programs in those spaces.
The four-building complex consists of the original 1854 orphanage building, a three-story addition built in 1874, and two annexes. Gould Cottage, constructed in the 1920s, served as a home for girls. Porter-Leath outgrew the space and consolidated over one hundred staff members into its Early Childhood Support Center at 3400 Prescott Road in 2017.
Porter Leath Home explored numerous options for preserving the properties. However, available historic preservation grants were insufficient to cover estimated project costs, and the buildings would not provide enough space for Porter-Leath's current and future needs. The organization ultimately decided that dedicating significant resources to building preservation would negatively impact its ability to effectively serve children and families and advance its mission.
CRA began leasing Gould Cottage in 2021 and invested over $100,000 to renovate the space while discussing continued usage with Porter Leath Home. CRA will announce plans for the other buildings once finalized.
CRA President Andrew Murray highlighted that this initiative is born out of the Uptown Community Plan, developed by residents and stakeholders within the Uptown TIF District. He emphasized the importance of making their home in the community where they resource and work to preserve historic neighborhood assets. CRA is excited to partner with Porter-Leath and the neighborhoods to pursue the redevelopment of the historic orphanage campus that has significantly impacted the lives of countless Memphians.
In line with the Uptown Community Plan, CRA will solicit proposals from developers and investors to redevelop the historic buildings. These buildings are eligible for Historic Tax Credits and New Market Tax Credits, representing a unique opportunity in the historic core of Memphis.
For over 170 years, Porter-Leath has been a primary resource for Memphis children and families. By focusing on the essential building blocks of healthy development, Porter-Leath not only provides access to the tools needed but also instills a sense of hope. Porter-Leath helps build stronger children, stronger families, and a stronger Memphis.
About the Memphis and Shelby County Redevelopment Agency
The Memphis and Shelby County Community Redevelopment Agency is a joint agency of the City of Memphis and Shelby County governments. It provides a source of financing to assist public or private enterprises in eliminating blighted conditions while maximizing return on public investment in target areas. Tax increment is deposited into a Redevelopment Trust Fund to provide direct assistance for public or private investment in affordable housing, public infrastructure, and other public purposes consistent with the elimination of blight. This helps public and/or private developers, governmental, and non-profit agencies leverage capital and provide an array of services consistent with the Community Redevelopment Plan.
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