VOL. 130 | NO. 122 | Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Ballet Memphis Turns to Overton Square
By Amos Maki
Scratch those plans for a new Hotel Overton where the French Quarter Inn now sits in Overton Square.
Ballet Memphis has a sales contract on the property at the northeast corner of Madison Avenue and Cooper Street and plans to build a new two-story structure fronting on Madison with parking in the rear and on the eastern end.
Ballet Memphis will bring added value to the booming theater and dining district, said Todd Walker, principal with archimania, the Memphis-based architecture firm that designed the new location.
“I think that what we’re really bringing to the table is making (Overton Square) better in the sense that it becomes more of a performing arts district than just a theater district,” said Walker. “Not to take anything away from the theaters, they’re great, but culturally it will enhance all of that. I think it will bring a more diverse vibrancy to Overton Square.”
Walker gave an overview of the project to the technical review committee of the local Office of Planning and Development on Wednesday, June 24. The project is slated to go before the Land Use Control Board on July 9.
Click to view site plan PDF
The plans mean the end of the short-lived proposal by NCE Realty and Capital Group to build a 137-room hotel after demolishing the 1980s-era French Quarter Inn, at 2144 Madison Ave.
Ballet Memphis plans to keep its Cordova location at 7950 Trinity Road as a satellite but Madison and Cooper will be its headquarters.
In the building design, archimania uses a large amount of glass as a way to bring the space to the public, and draw the public to the building. The new center includes a total of six studios. The largest studio is near the intersection of Madison and Cooper and facing Madison. Five smaller studios, including a Pilates studio and one to display costumes and other items, also face Madison.
“The main goal is to connect the ballet and the arts to the city, to the street, so we’re doing this with a lot of transparency,” Walker said. “Theaters can’t have windows very easily but in a studio you can, and there’s practice and rehearsals and all these things you can see.”
The move by Ballet Memphis comes after Overton Square developer Loeb Properties talked earlier this year of a cultural addition to the square’s theater district which includes Playhouse on the Square, Circuit Theater, Theatreworks and Hattiloo Theatre.
Bob Loeb, president of Loeb Properties, said in May “another performing arts existing provider in town” wanted to relocate to the square in general.
The alternative square site for Ballet Memphis was the parking lot next to Hattiloo.
Loeb’s disclosure to The Memphis News came at about the same time Ballet Memphis acknowledged it was looking at Midtown in general.