Plans for 46-foot tall ‘Soul’ sign on Mud Island rejected

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A widely criticized plan to erect a 46-foot-tall “temporary public art” display in Mud Island River Park was rejected Wednesday evening by the Downtown Memphis Commission’s Design Review Board.  

The project was the brainchild of the Memphis River Parks Partnership.  

It called for a black and yellow sign on several layers of scaffolding that would read, “We have no time for things with no soul.”  

“We’re real, we’re grit grind, that’s who we are and we’re proud of it. And I think that’s what this says,” said Carol Coletta, President and CEO of the MRPP.  

“I think it’s a little sassy,” she added, predicting it would be Instagrammed as much as the Memphis sign and would resonate with young people.  

But the message drew criticism and confusion from area residents and board members.  

“I know it’s supposed to be bold. Bold to some could be offensive to others,” said Design Review Board member Roderick DeBerry. 

The size of the structure also loomed large at Wednesday’s meeting.  

“It’s just way out of scale. It’s 1,840 square feet. It’s larger than the average house in Memphis,” said downtown resident Scott Henninger.  

In the end, board members rejected MRPP’s application but invited the group to submit new designs. 

The sign would have been in place from May 28 to November 30. 

“This isn’t an aesthetic judgement either way. We’re not saying that we love this, we’re not saying anything about it,” said a Design Review Board member.  

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