VOL. 117 | NO. 191 | Friday, October 24, 2003
Meet city council Nov
Homes Could Replace Vacant Warehouse
Use of alley concerns residents in Midtown neighborhood
The Daily News
Residents of the Cooper-Young neighborhood welcome the demolition
of a 74,000-square-foot vacant warehouse that will be replaced with new homes,
but some are wary about the future of an alley that runs between the property
and the rear of existing homes.
SR Consulting LLC first wants to raze the warehouse
originally built for Ronco Spaghetti at 800 S. Barksdale St. in the 1950s
then build 38 single-family residential, bungalow-style homes and eight
townhouses on 36 lots.
A critical part of the development calls for use of an
existing alley for rear-access driveways.
Off limits. Residents surrounding the property,
particularly those whose lots back up to Evelyn Avenue, hope to reach an
agreement with the city that a greenscape area they created and have maintained
for 20 years along the 50-yard alley be left alone.
Angela Strain, executive director of the Cooper Young
Community Association, calls the subject a quality-of-life issue.
Developer Bernard Cowles has agreed to pave the alley and
give it to the city, Strain said.
We want to make sure that the city is sensitive to what the
existing neighbors have done and what their personal loss is going to be if
they go remove those trees, she said. The prospect of losing 100-year-old
trees in Midtown is not well-received.
A warehouse next to the alley has been empty for about a
year, since its previous occupant, Southwestern Liquor, relocated to Bartlett.
Site problems. Residents of the neighborhood also
have expressed concern over the need for city-funded drainage improvements in
the alley a problem Strain said neighbors are handling themselves.
Strain said Memphis City Council member Janet Hooks has said
she wants to meet with residents to discuss the problems, and the city-county
Office of Planning and Development has promised the association an engineering
study will be conducted on the alley.
The neighborhood is thrilled to see an abandoned industrial
site become housing we just want it done sensibly and in such a way that the
people already living in the neighborhood are not adversely impacted, Strain
Fence lines. OPD deputy director Mary Baker said
officials first must determine whether the existing fence prevents use of the
alley as a 25-foot driveway, then seek a solution to address the needs of all
Any drainage problems will be directed to city engineers,
Its a difficult and unfortunate situation because its an
alley thats not been in use for a number of years, Baker said. I dont know
if were going to be able to solve this to everyones liking, but were going
to try to reach some kind of consensus with the neighborhood before it goes to
Cowles said Cooper-Young representatives told him they were
excited at the prospect of single-family homes instead of the 18-wheelers seen
idling on the property at all times of the day.
Cowles said estimated cost of the homes will range from
$215,000 to $240,000. They should be ready for sale next spring, with warehouse
demolition scheduled to start in December.
Urban challenges. Baker said the trend of developing
infill homes with a new urbanist approach similar to the homes in Mud
Islands Harbor Town often depends on use of alleys to provide rear-access
But, urban development also often comes with challenges,
such as improving alleys, she said.
I could multiply that development times every neighborhood
in the city, she said. Every time we do one of these, we have a problem like
A seat at the table. Emily Bishop, who has lived on
Evelyn directly across from the development since 1988, said residents have
experienced circumstances in which compromises were reached between homeowners
and developers, but ignored after the developers gained city approval for
She fears solutions presented for the alley could have a
Thats a huge concern, Bishop said. We want to be
involved citizens and part of the solution, but theres no system in place.
She said area residents, like city officials, support new
homes in the neighborhood, but she believes existing residents deserve input in
the new development.
If the city could give us a process that would include the
neighborhood early on in the process a seat at the table that could be the
best thing to come out of these developments, she said.