Overton Square Garage Opens

By Amos Maki

Visitors to Overton Square know that parking has been at a premium recently, with side streets around the entertainment district filling up as quickly as the restaurants and shops there.

Overton Square's 451-space parking garage has opened at Monroe Avenue and Florence Street.

(Daily News File/Lance Murphey)

Parking at Overton Square should get much easier with the opening of its 451-space parking garage at the northeast corner of Monroe Avenue and Florence Street. The city-owned garage opened this weekend, and parking is free for the rest of October.

“It’s our way of thanking Memphis for being patient with the garage construction over the past year,” said Earl Williams, chief operating officer and chief financial officer of Loeb Properties Inc. “We know that the progress created less-than-ideal circumstances for patrons, but traffic in Overton Square grew in spite of it. That kind of loyalty deserves a show of appreciation.”

Beginning Nov. 1, parking will be a flat rate of $3 between the hours of 6 p.m. and 4 a.m., regardless of arrival time or amount of time parked. Occasional special event rates will be charged.

The city of Memphis helped kick-start the redevelopment of Overton Square by investing around $12 million in the three-story parking garage, which includes a large detention basin underneath it that will help ease flooding in Midtown.

Before the Overton Square location became available, city engineers had suggested placing the detention basin on the greensward at Overton Park, a suggestion that elicited an immediate outcry from neighborhood residents and park enthusiasts.

Loeb Properties is investing around $20 million to revive the once-struggling area into a thriving arts, dining and entertainment district.

“We knew the city of Memphis needed a location to build a storm-water detention facility for Midtown, and we were happy that Overton Square had a spot they could use to relieve residents and businesses of the flooding problems created by Lick Creek,” said Carey D. White, Loeb’s senior vice president of asset management.

“It made sense to build a parking garage on top of the detention facility for the greater community to use, including all of the theaters and nearby businesses located outside of the Overton Square development. The marrying of the two projects was in the best interest of the citizens of Memphis, and it’s important that we thank the city of Memphis.”

City Council member Shea Flinn, who championed the project along with fellow councilman Jim Strickland, said the city’s investment in the garage was a perfect example of a public-private partnership.

Flinn said the garage would help sustain Overton Square and bring more development to the area, which should more than cover the city’s investment.

“We always believed in the project and it’s always great to see that belief rewarded,” Flinn said. “The turnaround has been nothing short of miraculous.”

The parking garage, designed by the architecture firm LRK Inc. and built by general contractor Montgomery Martin Contractors LLC, will be more than just a place to park vehicles.

The building’s design, and the way vehicles will be funneled there, was created with pedestrians and a mix of uses in mind.

The first floor of the parking garage was designed so that it could host a farmers market, small festival or concert. The Overton Square development plan directs vehicle traffic to four main streets: Monroe, Florence, Cooper and Madison. Vehicles would enter the parking garage from Monroe.

Loeb has hired Republic Parking to handle the day-to-day operations of the parking garage, Mid-South Security to install and maintain security cameras and emergency phones, Gant Systems to create and service the networking infrastructure and Security One to provide security.

“It’s a big puzzle with many moving pieces, and each one is important for the garage’s success,” said Elizabeth Berglund, Loeb’s community relations director.