Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Fairgrounds Meeting with Councilman Strickland

There's a public meeting with Councilman Jim Strickland about the fairground plans this Thursday, Nov. 12th at 5:30 pm at Young Ave. Deli. Alex Turley in Cooper Young is concerned about the city's more recent plan for the fairgrounds (with a green space promenade, ball fields, residential, and smaller retail opportunities) and has organized this meeting to let the neighborhood voice its desires. Alex is Henry Turley's nephew, and he supports his uncle's plan, which originally had the blessing of the city before the more recent option emerged. Turley would like to build the fairgrounds around an athletic complex for regional youth sports (to complement the focus of the Kroc Center) and a larger retail component, with hotels and larger stores, ideally a Target and grocery store.

I see good things in both plans. Like many Midtowners, I would love to see a quality grocery move in (Trader Joe's would be my first choice, or a Whole Foods or Fresh Market), and I've wanted a Target for years. However, the Turley plan does not seem to allow for much, if any, free green space. His green space is planned for ball fields and other programmed activities. I love the newer plan's idea of a long green promenade from East Parkway to the Coliseum that would double as tailgating, a la the Grove in Oxford, for football weekends.

Memphis is toward the bottom of the nation on percentage of parkland in its city area. We have only 5.1% of our space devoted to parkland (a large chunk of which is in one place at Shelby Farms), where Albuquerque, N.M. has 30%. New York has 19.6%, Washington, D.C. has 19.4%, and Austin, TX has 16.3%. I'd hate for several hundred acres of publicly held land to be divvied up without any green space reserved for park space.

I was at a meeting with Henry Turley about this plan last week, and he doesn't have a full plan laid out on paper. He wants community input before making a final plan. He seemed very open to ideas about enviornmental issues such as reducing light pollution from ballfield lights and including storm water retention -- the problem with redevelopment is that Overton Park is already threatened with invasive engineering projects aimed to fix flooding in this same already-at-capacity watershed. Any plan approved has got to be environmentally sound so as not to add runoff in an already flood-prone area.

Anyway, that's my wish list. Go make your own wish list known Thursday night.


  1. Since Henry Turley's plan has been officially rejected by city government, why waste time rehashing his plan? It was a horrible plan, transplanting suburban sensibilities to an urban setting.

    So far, it looks like City of Memphis has the vision, not the developer.

  2. PS: Sounds like Alex Turley should get the facts before meeting. The new proposal has the same amount of retail, it has residential, it has youth sports (and a consultant deciding which sports to feature), it has a hotel, it embraces Kroc Center and the school (unlike his uncle's plan), it doesn't build a strip mall on N. Parkway, etc.

    And it doesn't pay an exorbitant fee to a developer for ideas that have been around for 20 years.

  3. To the previous commenter: North Parkway is not even near the Fair Grounds, ”Midtowner”.
    There is much more to consider than just the plan. We have to think of upkeep, presentation, and standard of care for the facilities.
    Please name one public facility that is kept up properlyby the city. I love Overton Park, but they don’t mow it enough, its flea ridden, and who knows why the water is florescent. Even Galloway golf course, our signature golf facilities are already falling apart. I do not even want to describe the issues with the un-safe fair grounds arena and junky Tobey field. It’s not right to treat our children that way. I wish we could trust our city to do something right, but with the Pyramid, FedEx forum scandals, unsafe parks and recreational facilities, and indecisive city council our city just isn’t trust worthy yet.

  4. Henry Turley's plan isn't dead, it's just been stalled by Lipscomb, who's trying to make a power play and pitch his own plan.

    It's too early to talk about the plans specifically because neither one has control of the site. I think the public has gotten too centered around the "plans" which can only be vague.

    The real debate should be over who is the better developer: Henry Turley and his team or Robert Lipscomb, Tom Marshall and the city. Turley has developed walkable communities in Harbor Town and Uptown, while Lipscomb and the city have drug out the Pyramid for years. As a Cooper Younger, I'm supporting Turley.

  5. I support Turley also!!!