Group looks to set design standards for Midtown

By Anna Marie Hartman - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - What should Midtown Memphis look like? Residents living in the area are sending a clear message to Memphis City Council members.

Businesses who want to build in Midtown sometimes find themselves in a battle. But its hard to blame developers for trying when the city doesn't have a set of guidelines for them to follow.

"You know, Germantown and Collierville have certain standards, but Memphis really has none," Chooch Pickard of the Memphis Regional Design Centers said Friday.

Pickard's group wants to change that, and recently drafted a set of clear zoning standards that promotes an urban design model for Midtown.

"Those really create walkable pedestrian friendly neighborhoods, and that's the way Midtown was designed originally - to be friendly and walkable," Pickard said.

Memphis City Council member Shea Flinn says a clear set of rules won't stunt the potential for growth.

"We're not trying to run out development, and we're not trying to be a bar to development," Flynn said. "The developers I've talked to have been way on board with this because what they like is certainty."

And, he said, the zoning standards will attract the kind of the expansion the Midtown community wants.

"This is setting up development that gets it, that gets the Midtown character, and that gets what Midtown wants to be," Flinn said.

But before the Memphis City Council votes on the plan, they want the public to have their say.  

"We had a very good meeting last night," Flinn said.  "We have two more that I hope the public shows up in."

Flinn hopes setting standards for the Midtown District will keep developers from going into battle and allow Midtown to keep its charm.

The final vote on the plan could come in September.

Two public meetings are scheduled if you want to share your ideas:
June 23, 2010
Circuit Playhouse (old Playhouse on the Square)

June 30, 2010
Memphis Leadership Foundation, 1548 Poplar Avenue

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