Downtown Memphis Commission proposes building multi-million dollar parking structure

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Downtown Memphis Commission is proposing to build a more than $40 million dollar parking structure in the heart of downtown Memphis.

Olivia Byrd lives downtown but knows the hassle that comes when a friend drives to come hang out.

“All the time. Especially when they’re coming to visit me and they’re like, ‘where do I park and I’m like, I don’t know where to tell you’,” Byrd said.

A new plan by the Downtown Memphis Commission hopes to alleviate that by creating a parking garage off Main and Beale that’s already a parking site. The new plan creates 1,400 spots, along with parking for bikes, scooters and retail space.

“And then on the roof we think that we can put a covering for shade and have another event space that can hold up to 500 people,” said Jennifer Oswalt, president of the Downtown Memphis Commission. “We really see it as a mixed use but also solving a parking challenge for us.”

It might even have showers for bikers.

“You come and let’s say you rent space to park your bike, but, yes it will have a shower because it gets hot here, and if you ride your bike as a commuter into downtown you need to freshen up before you go to work,” Oswalt said.

The site chosen because of accessibility to Beale Street, the Orpheum, the Civil Rights Museum, soon-to-be Brooks Museum and Tom Lee Park.

“So not just a box that’s parking cars, but has this beautiful staircase on the outside next to the Orpheum that will give people the chance to stop and take a selfie or at least view the river and the sunset,” Oswalt said.

The total request for the project is $62 million, which includes several other projects and improvements to other downtown garages. The money would come from PILOT fees designated for parking infrastructure.

 Several boards that still need to sign off on everything, including city council and county commission. If everything is approved, they hope to have the project done by the middle of 2022.

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