Overton Square redevelopment leads to budget battle - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Overton Square redevelopment leads to budget battle

The Memphis City Council spent Tuesday fighting over an old landmark that's set for revitalization. The Memphis City Council spent Tuesday fighting over an old landmark that's set for revitalization.

(WMC-TV) - The Memphis City Council spent Tuesday fighting over an old landmark that's set for revitalization.

The debate had to do with the millions of taxpayer dollars that are being diverted to build a parking garage at Overton Square, but not everyone likes the idea.

And while the city council eventually approved the plan, it wasn't without dissent.

The council voted  to put aside $16 million for a water detention basin, a parking garage and street improvements in Overton Square, but the proposal caused a battle over budget money.

Memphis Councilman Jim Strickland pushed his peers to approve a water detention basin in Overton Square.

"Part of that deal is to build a garage which is going to help all of the surrounding businesses," he said.

But other council members, like Harold Collins, are asking why only Midtown would get help?

"I represent Whitehaven and the Elvis Presley corridor and that area has needed redevelopment for many, many years," he said.

Strickland said a recent study showed that nearby Lick Creek is the city's number one flooding problem. The basin would collect the runoff instead of the floods going into people's homes.

"For about 15 years, Midtown along Lick Creek has experienced devastating flooding," said Strickland. "We've been working on this for years."

However, Collins said more than 600,000 tourists drive Elvis Presley Boulevard each year to get to Graceland.

"And they have to see the mismanagement of property and the degrading and level of unsanitary roads and conditions in that area," he said.

Collins said even with a bustling tourist attraction, Whitehaven residents have lived without upgrades. Meanwhile, Overton Square has been a ghost town.

"Graceland has never closed," said Collins. "We haven't had a problem with tourism at Graceland."

But Strickland said he's not against redeveloping Elvis Presley Boulevard.

"I don't think this is an either or proposition," he said. "I think we need to set out a priority list and get to all the projects."

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