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Uptown residents share concerns about proposed 7-story parking garage for ALSAC/St. Jude

Published: Nov. 15, 2021 at 8:27 AM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Residents in Memphis’ Uptown community held a news conference Monday to share their concerns about plans for a seven-story parking garage proposed by ALSAC/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

The group -- Parks Not Parking 901 -- spoke on behalf of the Greenlaw and Uptown neighborhoods and shared results of a recent community survey regarding the parking garage planned for A.W. Willis between North 3rd and North 4th streets. Results show that 90% of nearly 100 residents surveyed say they do not approve of the parking garage.

According to Parks Not Parking 901, the garage proposal is 89 feet, which is much higher than the established 45-feet height limit. The garage is designed to hold over 1,600 cars for St. Jude employees.

Monday’s news conference comes ahead of a vote Wednesday by the Board of Adjustments on whether to approve ALSAC’s request for use and height variances for the proposed parking garage.

In the news conference, residents of the Uptown area voiced their concerns about how this garage would change the landscape of their community.

“As we support St. Jude and their mission, that the board of trustees not approve this variance because it is truly going to harm our community,” Valerie Peavy, owner of The Office at Uptown, said.

The community members say this is a quiet area where people sit on their front porches, go for walks and children ride their bikes and play, and imagining the amount of traffic this parking garage would bring is concerning.

“I would ask you all when you leave here today, and those that drive through this community, drive through it and envision what 1,600 cars driving on a 24-hour basis at different shifts coming through this very quiet community will do to our neighborhood,” Peavy said.

In 2018, residents and community stakeholders formed development plans for the neighborhood. Residents feel the garage would hinder those plans.

“It also takes away for housing. That area was zoned for mixed use and residential. Well, those plans go out of the window,” said Peavy.

President of the Downtown Neighborhood Association Jerred Price says the garage could have a negative impact on property values.

“It will be very hard for these people who have invested into their community, and built a life in their community, and a home in their community, to sell a home if it came down to it,” he said.

Price asked members of neighboring communities to put themselves in this neighborhood’s shoes.

“Would you want a 1,600 car parking garage built in your neighborhood. I ask that to our neighbors in Midtown, East Memphis, Frayser, Whitehaven... I ask, and I would think that the answer would be no, would you want to see more housing, more green space, more businesses, people living and working and experiencing life together in your community? I think the answer would be yes,” Price said.

The fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude, ALSAC, gave the following statement:

St. Jude has invested in and called downtown Memphis home for 60 years, with an annual estimated economic impact to Greater Memphis of nearly $4 billion. We are proud to be part of this community and our city, and will continue to enrich it by bringing new opportunities for investment and employment to our fellow neighbors, while preserving the rich history of our area. We are listening to our neighbors’ concerns and are modifying our design to better blend into the community by changing the proposed color, having first-floor activation with retail, and creating additional green spaces to promote a more vibrant, walkable area.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude, have grown by more than 1,200 jobs over the past six years, and will add nearly 1,000 more jobs over the next six years to continue our mission to advance research and lifesaving treatment for children worldwide. This growth in Memphis has fueled the need for additional parking, and we have identified an optimal site that will create a safer environment for the community by routing Gayoso Bayou underground.

We will continue to partner with our neighbors as always and plan for a development that drives growth, fuels construction and service jobs, and encourages further investment in the community and our city.

ALSAC

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