City Council OKs grocery store study, puts a hold on public art

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis City Council passed a resolution to budget $18,500 for a grocery feasibility study Tuesday. Members hoped it would help fill the void left by two Kroger stores which closed in February.

The city hired local consulting firm Socially Twisted to do the work gathering statistics and demographics information for the areas.

They said they hoped to finish the study in two weeks to be able to find a new grocery store to agree to come in to the city by April.

“When you have a grocer that you're going to, they're not coming to us dying to go into a space. They're saying 'What's the benefit?” consultant Rhonnie Brewer said of the need for the feasibility study.

"Those who are developers and are a part of the economic development platform love having empirical evidence to back up the need, as well as to make sure anyone who has a desire to come will be able to without too many fiscal challenges or doubts," Councilman Edmund Ford said.

City officials also took a stance in the ongoing murals controversy by deciding to place a 120-day moratorium on new contracts for public art in the city.

The controversial murals are along Lamar Avenue near Willett Street.

During Tuesday's committee meeting some council members read letters from constituents asking them to have these murals removed.

City Council directed City Works to paint over the offensive murals recently but employees painted over the wrong ones.

Paint Memphis leader Karen Golightly, who organized the mural project, said they ruined about $35,000 worth of work.

After council passed the moratorium, Golightly sent us this statement:

It's a sad day when our government puts a stay on art, particularly when we have such larger issues in Memphis such as crime.

Memphis City Council members had a packed schedule with some big items up for discussion.

The moratorium does not affect contracts for murals on private property.