Friday, May 11, 2007

Thoughts and Notes on a Fairgrounds Redevelopment Meeting

which was held at CBU last Tuesday night.

    Fairgrounds Gates during the Mid-South Fair
  1. The Mayor's vision for a new stadium is going to swallow the redevelopment's good will and ideas. There was a lot of emotion, if not anger, directed at the idea during the meeting, using up maybe 75% of the Q&A, with 80-90% of the audience against a new stadium.

    Despite the acrimony, City Chief Financial Officer Robert Lipscomb graciously went out of his way to introduce the widow of William H. Gaskill (the architect of the present Liberty Bowl) even though she is an opponent of a new stadium.

  2. Fairview Junior High, building and institution, seems secure thanks to the City School's decision to renovate it. It does give me pause that the magnificent Fairview would otherwise be expendable in a redevelopment plan that uses adjectives like best and highest and historic.

    A save is a save, but beware if MCS change their mind.

  3. The Salvation Army has already begun designing the Kroc Center at the Fairgrounds, and with it a troubling detail: Kroc Center's parking lot will front East Parkway. Although there will be a wall, the development will point a surface parking lot toward East Parkway. East Parkway!

    This inaugural development will set the tone for the rest of the Fairgrounds. If it stinks -- if it's ugly, or suburban, or completely out of character for the area -- it could be off to the races for bottom-feeding real-estate developers. For 30 years crappy developers and their henchman will say "it's built to the standard set by the Kroc Center". On the other hand, if it's a high quality design and use of space, it will be bottom-feeder repellent, and an inspiration to everyone else.

    Yet there are no architectural guidelines or restrictions to guide it. The architectural gurus for the fairgrounds haven't even seen the Kroc Center plans.

    Despite this substantial visual void, 2 different citizens knew what they wanted: they asked the redevelopment committee to recreate the lost Shelby County Building (see below). Here, here!
  4. The Fairgrounds and the Shelby County Building: we can rebuild them
  5. County Commissioner and Save Libertyland member Steve Mulroy made an strong plea for the redevelopment committee to incorporate the Carousel and the Zippin Pippin in the plans. He pointed out Coney Island's redevelopment had made room for the Cyclone.

  6. The meeting concluded as all our meetings should -- with visions of fantastic Memphis. Sonny Bauman, sports and hotel entrepeneur, presented William Gaskill's circa 1970s vision for a domed Liberty Bowl.

    proposed model for Bono's glasses
The redevelopment committee is going to have 2 more public meetings. When I get the dates I'll pass them along.

By the way, on Wednesday a City Council committee voted against paying for a feasibility study for the new stadium. This has to be a major victory for new stadium opponents.

Updates: for a much more coherent view of the meeting, go to Memphis Magnet.

Also, the Mayor's office appears to be fighting back against the unfunding of the feasibility study. Before the ADA study for the stadium is complete, the city architect (can you believe we have one? Or perhaps it proves my point here) is already telling what the results are going to be.

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Anonymous sherman said...

I went to this meeting expecting Mayor Herenton to explain his inane idea of building a new stadium for 8-10 games a year, of which 2 or 3 are close to full. He was a no show. No one, not even the what-I-thought-were-overpaid-consultants-but-were-actually-working-for-free citizens, could cogently explain why the idea was ever proferred.

The lady from the city who tried to explain the ADA requirements had an unfortunate job which she did not do very well.

Congrats to the city council for finally doing something intelligent and not funding the consultants.

1:08 AM  
Anonymous sherman said...

That should be "proffered." Thanks, blog spell-check.

1:10 AM  
Blogger gatesofmemphis said...

They asked for the feedback -- and good for them for at least asking -- and they got it.

It was democracy at long last. I doubt they'll give up just yet (see my update above), but I think the Mayor might be more vulnerable on this than he is on MLG&W.

1:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am going to support Jim Perkins in the mayor's race. Isn't it time for a fresh face and some fresh ideas?

10:13 PM  

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