City wants public input on future plans of Overton Park buildings

City wants public input on future plans of Overton Park buildings

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Major change is coming to Overton Park. The Memphis College of Art and the Brooks Museum of Art are both leaving.

The big question: what will replace them?

The financially strapped Memphis College of Art closes in 2020, and the Brooks Museum of Art is moving to a new facility in downtown Memphis in 2023.

Both are important, longtime fixtures at Overton Park. City leaders are now seeking public input on what should replace them.

"It's sad to lose these entities in Overton Park," said Memphian Anne Pitts, "but this is a real opportunity for Memphis. I love the idea of some community art spaces. I think that's wonderful."

The City of Memphis hosted a forum Tuesday night in the auditorium at the College of Art, taking ideas about what to do with the buildings.

"Something educational," said forum participant Tanner Moore, "anything for the arts, like music or ballet or even film. Local filmmakers could show their work here."

Abby Phillips with the Memphis Area Creative Collaborative envisions MCA's Rust Hall being turned into affordable space for entrepreneurs and more.

"Make it something that the local community can continue to use," Phillips said, "a place where they can create art, take art classes, go to galleries or stop and eat at a restaurant. Make it a space that all of Memphis can enjoy."

Forum attendees were asked to write suggestions on bright colored Post It notes during part of the meeting.

Aria Miles, who just moved to Memphis, was pleased to see that the City welcomed feedback from the citizens on something as important as the future of Overton Park.

"Seeing that this is a participatory process," Miles said, "I think this is a really great step, instead of the changes just being mandated by the city."

Overton Park is 342 acres sitting in the heart of Memphis. What happens to it, can determine the direction the Bluff City takes in the next century.

City wants public input on future plans of Overton Park buildings

"This park, and not just these buildings," said Nick Walker, Deputy Director of Parks and Neighborhoods, "this park is a huge part of history and a part of Memphis. So we want to make sure we get this right."

The Philadelphia consulting firm that's helping the City of Memphis redevelop the Medical District has also been hired to guide the Overton Park transformation, referred to as POP: Project Overton Park.

Another forum will take place Wednesday, November 28 at 6 p.m. The location is TBA.

If you can’t attend, you can still share your thoughts with the city by taking a survey at pop.memphistn.gov or by email projectovertonpark@gmail.com.

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