This article originally stated that the August 12 meeting for the advancement of the Midtown District Overlay involved the full City Council. The August 12 meeting was by the Land Use Control Board, NOT the full City Council. The article below has been appropriately amended.
The Midtown District Overlay will come before the Memphis Land Use Control Board tomorrow morning at 10:00 am. The Overlay is designed to manage “smart growth” of the Midtown area. The Midtown Overlay is designed to function in conjunction with the Unified Development Code passed by the City Council earlier this week.
If the Overlay passes at the Land Use Control Board meeting, it will then be subject to three readings on three separate dates by the full City Council before it can be passed by the City Council.
The Memphis Regional Design Center, which promotes positive urban design and planning practices, has designed the Midtown Overlay in conjunction with the Memphis & Shelby County Division of Planning and Development, the Midtown Memphis Development Corporation, the Cooper Young Development Corporation, and the Cooper Young Business Association. The overlay will function as an addition to the basic rules and regulations enumerated in the Unified Development Code.
According to Charles “Chooch” Pickard, the executive director and chief design officer of The Memphis Regional Design Center, “The three principles of urban design that we … promote are: pulling buildings up to the street, providing transparency to make them pedestrian-friendly and putting the parking in the back. All of that is to create a walkable, livable, pedestrian-friendly neighborhood. We feel Midtown already has a lot of that going on. We can’t let it keep slipping in the other direction. We need to put a stop to the automobile-oriented development.”
The Midtown Overlay will cover regions of Midtown not currently protected by the Medical District Overlay or Historic District Overlays in the area. The new overlay will provide specific design requirements to ensure that positive development continues in Midtown, while giving developers a measure of predictability that should increase economic stability in the area.
The Midtown Overlay is particularly important for the preservation of Midtown’s historic resources. It allows a measure of protection for historic properties in the Midtown area, especially those that don’t fall within a designated Historic District. It will also help to preserve the character of the Midtown area as a whole.
You can email Chooch Pickard with questions about the Midtown Overlay here. Frequently asked questions about the overlay can be downloaded here from the Memphis Regional Design Center website.
The local preservation organization Memphis Heritage, Inc. is asking for ‘a full house’ at the meeting to pass the Memphis Overlay tomorrow and wants Midtowners to know that ‘this Overlay is very important in protecting the look and feel of the Midtown you know and love!’ The Land Use Control Board will meet at 10:00 am tomorrow morning (August 12) in the 1st floor City Council Chambers at 125 N. Main Street. Can’t come? Find your city council representatives and email them here.