Friday, January 25, 2008

More Blight Near Highland

The Helmsman reported a few days ago that the University of Memphis had begun demolition on the Prescott Memorial Baptist Church on Mynders.

So what looked like this for 75 years


now looks like this.


The University and its partners have been in the news a lot lately talking about how they can improve the surrounding areas and make a better, more attractive community.

So what are their plans for the space? The Helmsman says
The University has not decided what will be built where Prescott Memorial Baptist Church once stood.

Maybe a parking lot, maybe an educational building, almost certainly a construction staging area.

Either way, what had been a simple and charming part of their local built environment for 75 years has been destroyed without a plan.

Speculative demolition.

This is not New Urbanism. This is not Sustainable.

This is Same Old Shit Suburbanism. This is Waste.

For 3, 5, 10 years, maybe forever, the community will have to look at an empty space, probably with cars or construction equipment on it.

This is Blight. Same Old Blight.

Clarifications: The demolished church above is not part of the Poag & McEwen development on Highland. Prescott (demolished) is here; the Highland Street Church of Christ (Poag & McEwen's recent purchase) is here. The latter will be demolished eventually too, but with a plan at the ready. In fact, the P&M development will infill several lots that once had mansions on them -- themselves speculatively demolished by someone (not P&M) sometime in the last 20 years.

Also, the construction staging is for University of Memphis construction, presumably the dorms being built across Patterson, not the Poag & McEwen development.

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11 Comments:

Anonymous Tim said...

I may be mistaken but I think this is what is replacing the church. I believe the city already approved a TIF for the site. Google "Highland Row Memphis" and you should find some more information. I don't know why the University said they don't have plans for the site, maybe the proposal fell through recently? If that was the case I don't think they would demolish the site without having something else in the works.

8:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nope, that's the highland church of christ that will turn into the 'lifestyle center.'

however, i'm optimistic about the demolition of the other church...the u of m has a master plan that includes many possibilities....including an on-campus football stadium.

i'm keeping my fingers crossed for that.

12:51 PM  
Blogger Kelvin Oliver said...

I am not sure what they will put there and it is curious to see what the University will do with that land. Who knows what the President or anyone has up their sleeves. This just add to other construction that is going on around the campus. I'm really curious about the future of the University of Memphis.

3:39 PM  
Blogger PeskyFly said...

An expanded Highland Z?

I'm sure there are any number of (ahemBullshitahem) liability reasons for getting the demo done NOW!

10:44 PM  
Blogger gatesofmemphis said...

I think that one day it will probably have something, but until that day comes (in year 3, 5, 10, never) it will be graded dirt. Maybe when it's replaced it will be so much better, but in the meantime it won't. It will scar the community.

Pesky, if not liability, then asbestos, water damage, structural abatement, termite damage, fire marshal orders, health inspection failures, earthquake weaknesses, windborne pestilence...

The truth: to the decision makers, graded dirt is an equal of the built environment.

11:52 PM  
Anonymous MATAlac said...

As an outsider, I wouldn't shed a tear for a post-war church (one less set of white columns in M-town) But it is a shame to slam something down before redevlopment plans are moving ahead.

From the developers web site: "one of the highest-income trade-area corridors in the entire Memphis MSA." Is this a license for 100% commercial exploitation and 'lifestyle center'? What about some greenspaces were folks aren't being sold something. I'm all about density like the new apartments across and down the street, but there has to be balance and Land Use Board can't keep on giving developers blank checks.

10:11 AM  
Blogger MRC-T said...

Hear hear, why demolish something before having a plan? It doesn't make a lick of sense.

11:33 AM  
Blogger Wendy Sumner-Winter said...

Don't know if anyone's noticed, but there is STILL the gigantic pile of rubble there. It's pretty disheartening!

4:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

university plans to build another '8 minute meter' parking lot for income generation-hapless students will pay parking fines over next 10 years to cover 1 inch asphalt pavement costs.

9:17 AM  
Blogger gatesofmemphis said...

According to the Helmsman article, the late church was built in 1925, so it was pre-war. Pre-war, post-war, doesn't really matter to me anyway. It added texture and charm to that neighborhood -- perhaps the last bit on the perimeter of U of M. It had the urban setback, with the steps coming straight down to the street.

I'm always on my guard for the BSPR that orgs and coms put out, and the massive gap between what they say and what they do, but an 8-minute parking lot where that church stood (and its rubble still lies) would still shock me for its suburban Bugtussle brand of vision.

11:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That church had a rich history in the civil rights movement, among other social justice stands.

The church, a welcoming and affirming baptist church, is now located at 961 Getwell, near Park.

11:14 PM  

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