VOL. 115 | NO. 213 | Thursday, December 13, 2001
Midtown East redevelopment still on course
Binghampton redevelopment still on course
By MARY DANDO
The Daily News
Anyone attempting to access Sam Cooper Boulevard via Broad Avenue lately is well aware of the headache it has become. The construction of the new Sam Cooper Parkway can mean a 10-minute diversion, and residents may wonder how much longer they must endure torn-up streets and daily inconveniences.
When the Memphis City Council approved the final draft of the Midtown Corridor East Redevelopment Plan, they also approved the first phase of the plan rerouting Sam Cooper Boulevard to become a six-lane parkway running through Autumn Avenue to East Parkway.
Much of the redevelopment of the Binghampton area hinges on the completion of the parkway and Luanne Grandinetti of the Tennessee Department of Transportation, which is in charge of the project, said it should be finished by October depending on weather conditions.
"The construction is going very well and part of the road has been put in," she said.
Currently, the road is in various stages of work. Curbs and gutters are installed.
There will be new bridges at Scott and Malcomb streets.
"Also, were working on signals. The completion date is supposed to be October 02 and at this point, things could change. It depends on the weather. It appears that well meet it without any problem," she said.
The redevelopment and rezoning plans come again before the Memphis and Shelby County Land Use Control Board in February. In January, city officials will be talking to neighborhood groups about the effects of the new parkway and how it will affect the redevelopment plans, said Ralph Smith of ETI Corp. who is consultant engineer representing the city.
"Were hoping to go to LUCB with the rezoning plans in February. We have a couple of neighborhood meetings in January. But the plan itself is pretty much the same as before. The plan had in it a comprehensive rezoning component. There have been a few adjustments since we got into looking at the property, but for the most part its the same," he said.
Smith said when the council initially approved the plan with the comprehensive zoning in April, his group told them they would come back with further details.
"And since were not changing a lot, were just taking it back to LUCB and then back to the city council. But we need to go through that public hearing process particularly on the rezoning," he said.
When the parkway is complete, Mayor Willie Herenton and city officials will then request from the state for excess property surrounding the roadway be given to the city.
This land was acquired by the state as part of the proposed Interstate 40 through Overton Park, which was stopped in the late 70s.
Following the city councils final approval, this excess property will eventually be made available to developers as part of the Midtown East Redevelopment Plan.
There is still some opposition to the building of a roadway through the Binghampton neighborhood, but Donnie Mitchell, city public services division director, said government officials had no say in the matter.
"There are still some people who are opposed to the roadway but for those of us in government, we had no choice. The state said they were going to build a road, and we tried to make it the best situation that we could."
While he is reasonably satisfied with the construction of the new parkway, Mitchell, whose division works with neighborhood organizations, said he was disappointed the median was not as wide as that of the other parkways.
As a positive, the excess property now means a new elementary school will front the parkway as part of the citys acquisition of land, he said.
"Were looking at a brand-new school right in the neighborhood rather than on the fringe where they were first looking at on Parkway. It will help revitalize the neighborhood itself," he said.
Mitchell said they have already broken ground for the new school. Construction has begun on a new central police station on Tillman Street.
"Activity is going on and were just waiting for them to complete the road, so we can see just how much land will be left in the corridor and what the potential for some of that land is," he said.
With the promise of a new school and construction started on the precinct, Mitchell said he was seeing more support in the community.
"They see were keeping our word and see that we just didnt just come and talk about doing these projects, and were actually following through," he said.
To keep residents informed, Mitchell said they have set up a mini city hall in the Binghampton area on Walnut Grove Road near the new Central Library.
The center includes police officers from several precincts, code enforcement inspectors, a neighborhood coordinator and a citizen service center, so residents wont have to travel Downtown to find information.
There also is discussion of having an open market area on Broad Avenue, he said.
"The one closed down on Scott Street. Broad is going to become a cul-de-sac, then Broad has possibilities such as the market in San Francisco where people out on the street can sell their flowers, fruit or vegetables."
There is also the possibility of upgrading the post office on Broad.
"The potential for this area is enormous," Mitchell said.