Giant sign proposed for Mud Island; not everyone is happy about it

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A new sign slated to go up on Mud Island this summer is getting lots of attention, not for what it says but its size.

The Design and Review Board for the Downtown Memphis Commission is expected to approve the proposed 46-foot by 40-foot temporary art installation for Mud Island Park Wednesday afternoon.

DMC staff has already recommended approval of the sign, which will face the city and read “We Have No Time For Things With No Soul.”

“If you read it from a distance, it says We Have Soul, and if you read it close up, as you know, it says We Have No Time For Things With No Soul,” said Carol Coletta, the CEO and President of the Memphis River Parks Partnership. “It plays right into We Are Memphis brand they’ve invested in heavily and also, of course, Memphis tourism, blues, soul & rock n roll.”

The sign, which consists of three vinyl mesh panels and will be displayed on a scaffolding structure, is already getting criticism from folks living downtown. Dozens of people who replied to a Nextdoor post said they were concerned about the size of the sign.

“While many cities look to remove blight to create a scenic landscape, the massive 46′ tall and 40′ wide structure will likely impact view of the Mississippi River and the I-40 Bridge,” said Scott Henninger, a longtime downtown resident.

The Memphis River Parks Partnership said while the sign is big it won’t obstruct anyone’s view.

“We got the same comments about the Memphis sign, and it proved to be hugely popular. I’m standing looking at Mud Island right now, and, of course, there are very large trees over there.  The trees will dwarf this sign just as they do the Memphis sign,” Coletta said.

In 2019, the Design Review Board approved the 10-foot tall Memphis sign on Mud Island. Coletta said the sign has been posted all over social media and has been great PR for Memphis.

Coletta said the new sign would be at the opposite end of the park from the Memphis sign. It will be on display from Memorial Day through Thanksgiving and help kick off several summer events planned for the park.

“July fourth is returning to Mud Island.  We’ve got a summer concert series coming that will be in the Grove on Mud Island. So, we are really excited about the season coming up,” said Coletta.

Coletta said the Mississippi River Museum is also reopening, and a number of other improvements are being made to the River Walk and Mud Island Park.

“We are doing new landscaping, we are adding some other amenities, and we have a fun new food thing over there,” Coletta Said.

The Design and Review Board will hold a virtual meeting at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

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