Following is a press release from Uptown Memphis about its Uptown Square project with the former Lauderdale Courts apartment complex:
Uptown Memphis Celebrates Elvis Legacy, Unveils Plans for Uptown Square
Elvis’ boyhood home will be renovated but preserved in new Uptown Square community
Community leaders, Downtown advocates, Mayor Herenton and representatives of Elvis Presley Enterprises gathered today at the center of the former Lauderdale Courts campus to honor the community’s legacy including its former resident, Elvis Presley and to celebrate its future under the new name Uptown Square.
“Today we celebrate the good things that come from well-designed communities,” said Robert Lipscomb, Executive Director of the Memphis Housing Authority. “When Lauderdale Courts was built in the 1930s as part of the Works Progress Administration, it was designed by leading architects to maximize community development and interaction.
That community produced one of Memphis’ best known celebrities, Elvis Aaron Presley. Today we honor his legacy, commemorate that good community design, and rejoice in the future of this landmark campus, the future Uptown Square.”
“The Uptown Memphis initiative is a part of the renaissance of downtown. It is a vision for downtown that transcends the singular notion of just growing business, but instead focuses on the idea of building neighborhoods woven into the fabric of the larger downtown community,” said Mayor Herenton.
“The Uptown Memphis initiative revolves around good community design,” said Henry Turley, managing partner of the Uptown Partnership: a Belz-Turley Community Development Company, the master developer for Uptown Memphis. “We are working collaboratively to preserve, restore and recreate some of the city’s finest architecture, and some of its best and most historic neighborhoods. With Uptown Square we already have a well-designed community, steeped in history. We’re taking that design and bringing it up to contemporary standards, enhancing the ongoing Downtown renaissance.”
As part of the development, Elvis Presley Enterprises announced an ongoing partnership with Uptown Square, symbolized by a permanent plaque that will mark the former home of Elvis Presley. (Scroll to the bottom of this article to see plaque text.) The former home of Elvis and his parents, Gladys and Vernon Presley, will be renovated to modern standards but preserved in its size and layout.
The first phase of Uptown Square apartments will be available in fall 2003. When work on the development is completed in spring 2004, Uptown Square will offer 347 renovated units, most of which will be market-rate apartments. The remainder will be public housing units.
While all of the other Lauderdale Courts apartments are being enlarged during the rehabilitation, the original configuration of Presley’s apartment is being preserved.
Lauderdale Courts was completed in 1938 through the federal Works Progress Administration. The development is listed on the National Historic Register, so all design plans ensure that the renovation will maintain architectural and historic integrity.
The $36 million Uptown Square initiative is being financed through the Uptown Partnership, the City of Memphis (Housing and Community Development/Memphis Housing Authority), and through $5.4 million in historic tax credit equity from the Bank of America.
The Uptown Memphis community, stretching roughly from the Mississippi River east to Ayers, and from Poplar Avenue to Cedar and Chelsea, includes some of Memphis’ oldest neighborhoods. In 2000 the Memphis Housing Authority received a HUD HOPE VI grant to revitalize Uptown and the public housing projects in the Uptown community (Hurt Village and Lauderdale Courts). The Uptown Memphis initiative leverages that $35 million HOPE VI grant into $150 million of development investment, complemented by $16 million in Community and Supportive Services and over $1.3 billion collateral neighborhood improvements. The master developer for the program is the Uptown Partnership: A Belz-Turley Community Development Company.
Added Note to Elvis Fans from EPE
Uptown Square's definite plans for the former Presley apartment are to restore and preserve it. Will the Presley apartment be available for rent or will it be open for public viewing like a museum? There are no answers yet to these or other questions. How it ultimately might be used and how accessible it might be for public viewing are issues to be addressed in many discussions of many ideas over the months of Uptown Square's development and how those ideas might fit within the logistics of the operation of this residential complex. EPE has offered its full support for any efforts with the Presley apartment and will remain in close communication with Uptown Square. If ever there is any update to report, information will be posted here in News on Elvis.com. For the time being, Elvis fans can be happy and at peace with the fact that the Lauderdale Courts complex is to be revitalized along with the surrounding neighborhood and that the Presley family apartment is to be restored and that the Presley family's apartment is to be restored and preserved. That worry can now be crossed off your list!
Presley Apartment Plaque Text
Uptown Square, formerly called Lauderdale Courts, was once the home of Elvis Aaron Presley during his teens.
On September 20, 1949, Vernon and Gladys Presley and their son moved from Tupelo, Mississippi to 185 Winchester, Apartment #328. The Presley Family soon became part of a vibrant community where neighbors from their porches chatted with each other and looked out for one another.
It was here that Elvis practiced in the basement laundry room. He then gained his stage confidence by performing for his neighbors in the communal courtyard.
May Uptown Square once again provide that sense of place and belonging for its future residents.
The Presley Family Apartment
Vernon, Gladys and Elvis Aaron Presley
185 Winchester #328
September 1949 - January 1953