Wednesday, September 19, 2007

SkateLife Memphis: My Cooper-Young Delusion

Skatelife Memphis is working to build a skate park in Memphis. I propose a location in Cooper-Young.

It's not the Cooper-Young neighborhood itself, but a specific urban space

Google Earth view of total spacethat motivates the delusion. It's just south of the intersection of Central and Cooper.

The primary spaces (A and B) aren't even side by side. They are separated at ground level by Cooper. The formerly abandoned railbed (henceforth known as the skatebed) and the Cooper-Young art trestle (A+B) will join them together.

It will contain this east of Cooper space (whose ramp and pronounced topography gave me the idea in the first place)

space east of Cooper
joined by the elevated skatebed and art trestle, over Cooper, ...

Cooper-Young art trestle
to this space

space west of Cooper(and possibly other spaces (?)) west of Cooper.

I don't know what the status is of space A. The building adjoining may be in active use. Also, the owners of Sully Vans on Cooper may have purchased the rail bed closest to them (there are vans parked on the skatebed in the Google Earth image.)

Space B, west of Cooper, is for sale.

call now!
This and the other lots west of Cooper have lots of trees along the skatebed to the south. These could provide some strong cooling shade in the summer and fall.

So why do I call this a delusion?
  1. SkateLife Memphis has already decided on Mud Island as their preferred location.
  2. I'm not even a skateboarder, skater or skatist!
No matter, all matter -- we still need showmanship of place.

And I love the vision of people rolling back and forth across the trestle, up with the art.

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Blogger Aaron said...

Great idea Gates! I am all for it if you are willing to rally the Cooper-Young association that would be excellent! This would make an excellent smaller park for the CY area- what type of visibility does the space have so that people who don't skate could leisurly hang-out and watch the skaters? That would be my only concern.

For a large regional skatepark we need lots of space and visibility-especially if you want a 24/7 operation like Louisville's.

2:02 PM  
Blogger *** said...

Wow, just recently, three Cooper-Young residents (Victor, Barnabus, and Corey) were telling me that somewhere in a downtown warehouse are the remains of the skatepark equipment that MTV Extreme sports expo 1997 left behind. I asked everybody at Parks and RDC that I could get ahold of about this, waiting to find out, what if it's true?!?

A skatepark in C-Y would be the most logical choice, and another exhibition area on Mud Island would be perfect for the visuals as well as in tandem with any festivals at Mud Island to complement the whole thing!

There's a niche to fill with this concept. Scott McCormick and Cindy Buchanan are the only obstacles.

8:36 PM  
Blogger Stacey Greenberg said...

you are a genius!!!!

my husband grew up skateboarding in california and still remembers the skatepark they built in downtown san jose...and then tore down three months later when the tourists complained.

i would love a midtown skatepark.

10:51 PM  
Blogger gatesofmemphis said...

Aaron, re: your question about visibility, it looks like the old railroad bed over space A has been purchased by adjoining businesses. As visibility goes this is the most important space since it's on Cooper and gives a reason for skaters to cross the trestle, also increasing visibility.

I tried to figure out a way to get on the trestle last weekend to look for a fence. However, I wasn't brave enough to venture into the overgrown part of the railbed west of Cooper. Maybe I'll adventure into it in a few days.

Without space A it would still be a cool location for reasons noted at the bottom, but not as visible.

btw, I did notice that space marked ? is also for sale.

Wherever it's located, 24/7 is great. I would think that many/most areas of town would need and want that kind of energy. I do hope that it's woven into the physical fabric of the chosen neighborhood or park rather than the classic Memphis urban anti-pattern: attraction, parking, parking, parking, crepe myrtle, parking. Without the urban weave, I believe it won't cross-pollinate with adjoining areas. The energy will be lost as people walk across asphalt to their cars.

Thanks for your continued work on this. It's gonna be great.

Denise/Stacey, thanks for the comments.

3 positive things about a CY skatepark: the area's proven creative energy, its status as a crossroad of neighborhoods: Central Gardens, Idlewild, Orange Mound, Glenview, Rozelle/Annesdalea, and the possibility that a 24/7 skatepark in that location could revive the Two-Way Inn and its legendary (to me) frosty mugs.

12:43 AM  
Blogger Aaron said...

I completely share your thoughts regarding the types of locations that I would like to see the skate park at.

In the end Mud Island represented the place that would allow this project to go forward in the shortest period of time and would build on a continued effort to revitalize downtown.

The choice basically came down to keeping the momentum going, safety and taking advantage of existing infrastructure that would minimize costs and raise the Riverpark from the dead. It's a shame that the area is not being heavily used-but not surprising considering what you call the "lack of urban weeve" in it's design and location. Interestingly it's these weaknesses of the Riverpark that actually are major strengths for having the skatepark located there.
In fact these strengths make this location an overwhelming favorite.
(too long to explain here)

If we are able to have this skate park in 2-3 years that would be incredible. If we considered a lot of other spots, the time table could potentially double ( for many reasons that would bore you but worth discussing over coffee).

Shoot me an email from my site and let's do coffee sometime..

3:48 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

Also....but most importantly...The view from the tip of Mud Island is beautiful. To be surrounded by water, the Memphis bridge and the city skyline is amazing. For a major skatepark the site is unmatched. JMHO.

4:13 PM  
Blogger gatesofmemphis said...

Aaron, Mud Island is going to be a great location.

And the skatepark will be great for Mud Island if it is 24/7.

10:28 PM  

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