Friday, June 01, 2007

Question Of The Week: The Future Of The Fairgrounds

The question of the week centers on the future of the Fairgrounds.

Soon, a master plan for the Fairgrounds will be released. Already, we know this much:

• Libertyland is history.

• The Mid-South Fair needs to find a new home.

• The Mid-South Coliseum’s future is questionable, even in a city that finds it next to impossible to raze antiquated arenas.

• Kroc Center will be built, albeit with limited sensitivity to its connections with adjacent neighborhoods and potential neighbors on the site.

• Henry Turley, downtown developer extraordinaire, lobbied the Tennessee Legislature for tax incentives for his concept of the site, which apparently include big box retail.

• Memphis HCD Director Robert Lipscomb insists that no decisions about the site have even been made and finds himself coping once again with the unexpected, whether its an announcement about a new stadium or tax incentives.

• Some suggested uses center on mixed use, others on a youth sports complex and others on greenspace.

Hopefully, all of this is not a harbinger of things to come, because on some days, it seems that the Fairgrounds will become home to everyone’s latest idea – a residential project here, Kroc Center there, retail here, parking there – but no cohesive vision that produces a unified development or a functioning neighborhood with strong, sensitive, and positive ties to Cooper-Young.

So, with all of this in mind, what do you think the future of the Fairgrounds should be? And what do you see as the greatest obstacles to it taking place?


WTaylor said...

So, with all of this in mind, what do you think the future of the Fairgrounds should be?

In all honesty, the fairgrounds were misplaced in the first place and should have been in an open location near the expressway and open for tourists.

The old Mall of Memphis spot (plus some other land) would have been ideal location if you ask me.

And what do you see as the greatest obstacles to it taking place?

Cost is the greatest obstacle to such a plan

Anonymous said...

Since the Fairgrounds and its antecedents go back about 100 years, it's ridiculous to state that it was "misplaced in the first place." When it was started, it WAS in an open area near a main roadway. At that time, the area at 240 Mall of memphis location would be analagous to building the fairgrounds near Holly Springs, MS.

Anonymous said...

My hope is that it won't end up a mish-mash of styles. I would love for Fairview Jr. High to be used as the design sample for the rest of the buildings - retail, residential, Kroc buildings, parks etc. Some cool Art Deco elements - and NO big box retail or other design that looks like Cordova, Collierville or G'town. If Turley can model his designs after Harbortown - parks, pedestrian friendly areas and nice little shops all with a "Fairview" feel then I think it could be a jewel on the fringes of Midtown.

I also wish, instead of cramming a TARGET on the site, they would look at Sears Crosstown for that type of business and leave the Fairgrounds area for more "unique" shops and restuarants.

I know there are rumors of Target going in near Poplar and Watkins/Cleveland. Just wish they would find a use - and the money - to utilize the Sears building, too.

Anonymous said...

The Fairgrounds will have a mix of uses on it. I think a renovated Liberty Bowl or another stadium will be there and I think the Children's Museum, Kroc Center and the school will remain. After that, there will be some residential and commercial, with at least some big box retail. That's what I think will happen, even if I don't want it to happen.

I think the biggest obstacle will be to get government officials and developers to put aside profit in order to put together a pedestrian-friendly, New Urbanist design that will make it an interesting place. I think it will difficult to talk them into ample greenspaces, including medians with grass and trees.

Anonymous said...

With all the empty retail space and sites crying out for residential redevelopment in Midtown, why add more at the fairgrounds? Leave it as a park! Or rather, build it into a park.

Anonymous said...

IT should definitely have ample people magnets, like a skate park, and I'm not inlcuding big box retail in that definition.

Anonymous said...

The strip along Central needs to compliment the university across the street. Turn it into mix-use for students. Students can provide a strong consumer base that could drive the whole redevelopment. Plus Central is a important throughfare through that part of the city. If you can make it an economic corridor then the rest of the area could be stimulated outwards.

Also, the aspects of Cooper-Young should be incorporated. The east parkway stretch should be focused on greenspace, housing modeled after the neighborhood, and public facilities.

Further in towards the liberty bowl, put in ballparks, areas focused on improving the gameday atmosphere for a football game, etc.

Don't keep Libertyland. Don't make this an area for large national retailers.

Mesh the university, cooper-young, and liberty bowl into one area.

gatesofmemphis said...

At the May 31st Fairgrounds Redevelopment meeting in Orange Mound, Frank Ricks presented a very compelling vision: a visual west-east axis that starts at the original and restored East Parkway gates to the Fairgrounds, followed by green/festival/public space leading up to a recreated Shelby County Building and punctuated by the present Liberty Bowl hovering in perfect symmetry behind to the east. It's a strong vision that would create value for the existing neighborhoods and any new developments. A strong counterpoint to the churning caused by the new stadium, TDZs and other development machinations.

At some point I hope Mr. Ricks is willing to make a public pitch for this and other LRK quality ideas for the Fairgrounds, and against piecemeal developments or unpopular civic and commercial distractions, even if it means disagreeing publicly with some of his powerful patrons.

Anonymous said...

Do not development the Fairgrounds. 1. No Resedential, Memphis doesn't have a housing shortage. 2. No Commercial, There are too many commercial areas close by that have a long way to go before they have maxed out their re-development potential. We don't need to further dilute demand with unneeded supply. Make it a PARK! and 30 years from now, let's revisit and hopefully there is actually demand for something. Right now, politicians and developers and just wanting a project, something they can say they did. They are not looking out for the health of our city. Spend the time and resources to make this city safer and cleaner. Then one day when Memphis actally has healthy demand let's talk.