MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Plans are underway for a redesign of the Memphis College of Art Building across the street from the Overton Park entrance, and some residents of the area said they are displeased with plans to replace it with an apartment complex.
Plans recently released outline an $18 million investment into the property that sits across Poplar Avenue from the Midtown park, hoping to turn the former arts building into an art loft. The developer from Poplar Arts Loft company also plans to build a parking garage on the ground level.
One resident said he thinks that would just allow for a build-up of cars and traffic. Instead of a ground-floor garage, he said the space should be used as a residential or office space.
“It’s got no character, and it’s got no personality, and this is a neighborhood with character and personality across the street from Memphis’ Overton Park,” resident Robert Gordon said.
The building is currently being used as apartment and office space for the college, which is set to close in 2020. Poplar Arts Loft would like to demolish the building and replace it with the 100-unit loft with parking on the ground level.
Gordon said he would rather the building have a more historical feel.
He decided to pass out 200 letters with the headline “Memphis can do better for the entrance of Overton Park.
“I’d like to see the parking garage move to the second floor, and I would like to see the exterior design of the building be more respectful of the neighborhood,” Gordon said.
Some of his neighbors also said they wanted to exterior of the building to match the surrounding area.
“The concern has more to do with the design that’s consistent with surrounding architecture and making it pedestrian friendly, especially right at the entrance to Overton Park,” resident Eric Gottlieb said.
The residents said they did not have a problem with the lofts potentially going up, but they would like to see the ground floor be more welcoming with possibly gift shops or a café.
“We want people to feel comfortable walking from those lofts to the park, not feel like they have to get in the car to go there,” Gottlieb said.
Some neighbors hope to get enough complaints from those next door to make changes. WREG will update as this develops.