Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Remember When Ugly Was a Parking Lot?

Taj Mahal, brought to you by the Agra Development Corporation
While it dreams of a world-class Beale Street Landing, the Riverfront Development Corporation plans a surface parking lot for the entrance.

The original design is arguably great! horrible! okay. Build it and we will see. But this revised plan to pave part of Tom Lee Park shows no faith in the design, and no vision for the riverfront's future that hasn't been discredited in Memphis' recent past.

RDC President Benny Lendermon's statement of his problem -- that it's too far to walk from the nearest parking lot, especially for excursion tourists -- may be reasonable. But his solution is the same old gray slab. One more anti-urbanist, drive-up experience, another atom in a disconnected downtown. It will disconnect BSL from Tom Lee Park, the Bluff Walk and their hordes of walkers. It will frame the architect's vision with SUVs hidden behind remedial crape myrtles.

If you're to sponsor talks by urban visionaries who place walking at the center of city livability, you can't respond with walk-killing asphalt. Its time to build the new world. Right now.

For instance, why not allow on street parking on Riverside? Riverside is presently a launch pad and tail hook for I-55. Memphis has no need for that much speed in that spot. If it can survive a month completely blocked, Riverside can survive year-round with 30 mph traffic. Allow on street, parallel parking from Beale Street to Coppock Park. It will provide convenience at no cost, other than the salary of the guy who has to unscrew the No Parking signs and screw in the 2 Hour Parking signs. It will slow the traffic on Riverside, creating more (or impeding less) pedestrian flow between Downtown and the Riverfront, which can only be good for Beale Street Landing.

If you want to read/hear about the parking lot and more about our riverfront, go to the Memphis Cobblestones. Its author, Mike Cromer, has been attending, recording, transcribing (!!!), then posting the City Council's budget hearings with the Riverfront Development Corporation.

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Blogger jccvi said...

For what it's worth, I'm glad they finally bit the bullet and put up a parking lot at the Taj Mahal.

10:08 AM  
Anonymous sherman said...

Agree that they don't need asphalt parking. Somehow, 50,000 people find parking spots for bbq week & beale st. fest and manage to walk there. Disagree that street parking on Riverside is a good idea. Currently Riverside is the most beautiful drive in the city. A street lined with cars would not be.

I still don't know what the floating dock thing is or why that will be something people will want to do (see?). Maybe it's a contest thing like logrolling to see if you cannot fall in? Are they still doing this? Hope not.

12:18 PM  
Anonymous fieldguidetomemphis said...

You know what my least favorite surface parking space is in Memphis? Overton Square.

Why can't it be a park? Sidestreet and Bari are the last good things about the Square. Even the Crawfish festival was depressing because people were standing around on pavement when they could have brought blankets and enjoyed the music and company a bit more comfortably.

Aesthetics, folks. I hope Le Chardonnay and the other place make it across the street...but I'm sad they had to leave.

3:42 PM  
Blogger Naomi Van Tol said...

If the RDC can rustle up that much taxpayer cash for a floating dock, why not include a floating parking lot?

Well, hell, let's just take matters into our own hands. For $70K we can buy a used barge and paint yellow stripes on it. We'd park it up-harbor 11 months of the year, anchor at the cobblestones for Memphis in May, and make out like banditos.

5:53 PM  
Blogger gatesofmemphis said...

hey jccvi, if they want people from East Agra and Punjab County to come to the Taj, they need to build convenient parking.

Sherman, I'm not sure that it would destroy Riverside's most beautiful distinction. Not sure, but I wouldn't want that either. I do like the traffic calming possibilities, because the speed does create its own unattractiveness, but Riverside may not be a good road for parallel parking. I am sure when you talk about BS/BBQ Fest and the uses of BSL. The parking lot, I believe, shows lack of faith in the project's attraction. I've not been a big fan but they should not discount it and a parking lot is just that. BSL may be everything its supporters say it will be. If so, people will be there, parking lot or not.

fieldguide, the Overton Square Blacksward needs no Mini-Me downtown. re: the Square, since Overton Park is so close, and that space so massive, I'd prefer to see higher-density urbanist residential and retail with a public space. Even infill at standard midtown densities would make them a ton of money, would revive the Square. Do they want to do that?

Naomi, the mobility and flexibility of the barge would allow you to expand and shrink capacity, or just plain hide it when its unnecessary. I wonder if you could have a green parking barge, where the surface was grass?

11:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That waterfront park is an atrocity. Absolutely nothing about it relates to humanity or nature. Unfortunately, ClipArt people won't show up in real life when there is no shade, texture, and it's 95 degrees with higher humidity. The terracing serves no purpose, and creates spaces hidden from the street, where nobody would feel safe, and therefore the only occupants will be homeless. This is hackitecture. Making a park is not that hard, a few benches, a water feature for the misting effect, white noise, and kids to frolic. Trees. Plants (Isn't this done by a "landscape" architect?) What possible reason would a person descend to this moonscape for?

4:42 PM  

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