VOL. 130 | NO. 235 | Thursday, December 3, 2015
Belz Finds Compromise on Deal-Breaking Midtown Gate
By Bill Dries
Memphis City Council members worked out a compromise Tuesday, Dec. 1, over a controversial plan by Belz Investco to close Idlewild Street south of Union and install a metal gate across the roadway.
Attorney Nathan Bicks, representing Belz, agreed to the compromise, which sets the stage for Belz to close on the Union Avenue and McLean Boulevard property and begin development work.
Idlewild runs between the Midtown Kroger being built on the site of the current Kroger store and the site of a proposed mixed-use Belz development at the southwest corner of Union and McLean.
Belz has said it wouldn’t move forward with development of Midtown Market, which will include a competing supermarket as an anchor tenant, without the gate across the road. Some area residents opposed the gate; the Land Use Control Board rejected the proposal on Nov. 12.
But council members decided to substitute the gate for a westbound left-turn option off Union onto McLean, as well as an order to close Idlewild to two-way traffic along one section and thus prevent cars from cutting through the residential area.
Council member and Mayor-elect Jim Strickland convinced Belz that as mayor, he would have the ability to deliver the street changes essential to the compromise.
“In about 30 days, I’m going to have slightly more influence than I have now,” he said. “And I feel very good that I can get a left turn.”
Bicks was concerned that only the city engineer can deliver the change and that Strickland can’t make that promise until he is mayor.
Councilman Myron Lowery countered: “He appoints the city engineer.”
The council also approved a 22 percent water-rate hike proposed by MLGW effective next month. In another compromise, MLGW proposed and the council approved a corresponding 2.91 percent electric rate decrease for residential and small general service customers for 2016 as a tradeoff for the water rate increase.