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VOL. 133 | NO. 85 | Friday, April 27, 2018

Downtown Designs

Developers propose new apartments, riverfront park changes

By Patrick Lantrip

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A pair of proposed developments could change the look of two well-known Downtown areas: Mississippi River Park on Riverside Drive and the neighborhood around the National Civil Rights Museum.

One of the first tangible efforts to reimagine the Fourth Bluff area of Downtown Memphis is taking a step forward as the city has submitted plans to use adapted shipping containers as open-air dining pavilions within Mississippi River Park, located on Riverside near the Tennessee Welcome Center.

The plans, which are part of a larger partnership with the newly retooled Memphis River Parks Partnership, seek to increase the foot traffic and connectability of the riverfront.

Mississippi River Park on Riverside Drive draws visitors such as Doyle and Carol Noerrlinger of Nebraska. (Daily News/Patrick Lantrip)

“The design concept prepared by Groundswell Design Group and Pickering Firm is the next step in the implementation process,” Brenda Solomito Basar of Solomito Land Planning wrote in the application. “… The park will be transformed into a vibrant social hub comprised of unique spaces that support flexible programming, casual athletics and small-scale events.”

Since the Unified Development Code does not allow the use of shipping containers as public dining pavilions in the Central Business District, a variation from the Shelby County Board of Adjustment is required. If approved, construction would begin in late May, according to the plans.

“The creative use of shipping containers along the riverfront provides for durable structures that can withstand thousands of visitors and harsh weather for years to come,” Solomito wrote.

Groundswell Design Group’s design concept for Mississippi River Park includes a “playful” treehouse in the northwest portion of the park. (Memphis & Shelby County Board of Adjustment)

Aside from the containers, the proposed new layout of Memphis River Park is designed to maintain open green spaces, highlight the river views and embellish the rolling topography near Riverside Drive. It also includes a “playful” treehouse over an elevated play area in the northwest corner of the park.

Meanwhile, of the last remaining privately owned parcels of land adjacent to the National Civil Rights Museum could be getting a huge overhaul.

In direct response to a growing demand for housing opportunities in the Downtown area, Museum Lofts LLC is planning a new ground-up 4-story residential development at 138 Huling Ave., just north of the museum.

Since the UDC limits the maximum allowable density for new residential construction to 40 units per acre, Museum Lofts LLC is seeking a variance from the Shelby County Board of Adjustment to allow more units on the 0.6-acre lot.

In a letter of intent, Cory Brady of Integrated Land Solutions PLLC, who submitted the application on behalf of the developer, said his client is seeking regulatory approval “to initiate detailed design of a new four-story residential building with all the modern conveniences and appurtenances desired in today’s market.”

Mississippi River Park on Riverside Drive draws visitors such as Doug and Wendy Evans of St. Louis. (Daily News/Patrick Lantrip)

“The proposed building is a podium style facility, which includes 72 private, secured parking spaces on the ground floor and 68 lost format dwelling units among the three levels above,” he wrote, adding that the proximity of the property to the museum creates a “rare and exceptional condition” to permit additional density.

“The value placed upon the property due to the rare proximity of the museum creates a practical difficulty and exceptional hardship when considering development feasibility,” Brady said.

Instead, he said, granting the variance will facilitate a feasible residential development that will “improve the character of the district while meeting the objective of the South Main District.”

The Board of Adjustment will hear both cases May 23.

PROPERTY SALES 83 405 4,276
MORTGAGES 104 424 4,814
BUILDING PERMITS 148 883 10,151
BANKRUPTCIES 53 264 3,149