Out-of-town developers eye Overton Square - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Out-of-town developers eye Overton Square

By Anna Marie Hartman - bio | email | Follow us on Twitter

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC-TV) - The concept of Midtown's Overton Square hasn't changed much since the pedestrian-friendly mix of locally-owned businesses began back in the 1930's.

But a proposal to demolish the familiar store fronts on the south side of the square is meeting tough opposition. 

"We aren't against development," said June West of Memphis Heritage. "We just want the right development there."

Memphis Heritage wants Midtowners to know that Associated Wholesale Grocers of Kansas wants to build a discount grocery store at the corner of Madison and Cooper.     

"What they're proposing there is more like a suburban strip mall type location with a box, and we think there's a better use for that property," said West.

West and others want the Square to maintain a mix of retail businesses and restaurants.

"You know its Midtown. We want a walkable community again," she said.

Playhouse on the Square has a vested interest in which businesses move in. They're currently building a $12 million theater nearby, and organizers say catching a play and grocery shopping don't really fit together.

"We want it to be people going 'Let's go to the square tonight. Lets go see a show, let's eat dinner at this restaurant, let's go to this shop and buy candles.' Things like that... not 'Let's go to the grocery store and get a thing of bread," said Whitney Jo of Playhouse.

Long time Memphians say out-of-town developers may not grasp the essence of Midtown culture. 

"And what we've been asking for is a meeting so that we can discuss openly what their plans are," said West.

But so far, the developers haven't come to the table to get their history lesson on one of Memphis' most popular entertainment districts.


Click here for more information on the Memphis Heritage Web site.


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