Monday, August 28, 2006

No Suburbanism

Detail from UT Medical Center Building
Last Sunday's Commercial Appeal reported on the efforts by Medical Center stakeholders who are
...pursuing a medical center zoning overlay that promotes pedestrian-friendly development, restricts planned developments, encourages more mixed-use projects and supports the $1.1 billion in private investment planned or under way in the area.


According to the zoning overlay, new buildings would need to be built closer to the street. It requires 60 percent to 80 percent of a building to be within 15 feet of the right-of-way, which is typically the back end of a sidewalk. Planners say that would eliminate huge surface parking lots, encourage walkability and preserve the area's urban character.
There appears to be opposition from some developers to this plan:

During a Land Use Control Board meeting two weeks ago, Loeb Properties asked that approval of the overlay be delayed for 30 days.

"As written, I have some serious concerns," said Frank M. Dyer III, senior vice president of brokerage and tenant representation at Loeb. "I think bringing the building up close to the street could be very difficult on certain tracts of land because most retailers of the modern age don't choose to develop their sites that way because that is what their customers demand."

The overlay also mandates that in certain areas 60 percent of a lot's width must have a building on it.

"It starts to dictate the footprint of your building," Dyer said.

That's the idea, supporters of the zoning overlay say.
Exactly the idea. Memphis has slept this suburban nightmare for 60 years. We've pushed our borders to the edges of the earth to swallow every suburban community that we could get our hands on. We remade our major boulevards into freeways. We've damaged and in some cases destroyed our urban texture with surface parking lots and buildings recessed from the street. For what? We've never been able to attract the suburbanites -- they've only moved further out. And we've made it uglier for those who prefer the city.

Once and for all, we should wake up! Let's stop building the city for people who don't live here, and don't want to be here. We should build it for us, who we are and who we want to be.

Memphis cannot retain or attract or inspire the people who will walk with it into its third century by acquiescing to lazy, ugly suburbanality.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

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12:14 AM  
Anonymous Louise M. said...

Thank you for your insight and support of the efforts by the City's Division of Planning & Development to provide the Medical District businesses, landowners and stakeholders with the tools needed to build a vibrant, forward looking community. This is but the first step (and a baby one, at that) in implementing the new Unified Development Code.

Look for a spirited discussion when the Broad Avenue Corridor redistricting comes to the LUCB and Council in October/November.

We have yet to battle over trees, suburban design, street design/connectivity, et al.

We need all the community support we can get!

10:44 AM  
Blogger gatesofmemphis said...

louise m., to paraphrase eeyore, thanks for reading.

If you still are reading, what's going to be spirited about the Broad redistricting? I would think you'd have more unanimity than normal, since the Cooper bypass must have hurt most "conventional" uses of the properties. Do you have any links to the corridor redistricting plans?

8:05 AM  

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