Some residents concerned with new St. Jude parking garage

Published: Jan. 24, 2022 at 5:15 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - For months, residents in Uptown and Greenlaw have raised concern over a new parking garage being built by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

The Shelby County Board of Adjustment is expected to make a vote this week that could allow St. Jude to build a garage on this property. Greenlaw and Uptown residents say that garage could potentially alter their entire neighborhood.

Residents of Greenlaw and Uptown say they met with St. Jude several times since November to discuss the changes to the new garage the research hospital wants to build.

“Instead of the full seven-story above ground, it will now be five with two below. They’ve changed the color from pink to white and they’ve also committed to having retail at the bottom,” said Valerie Peavy, Uptown Resident and Historic Greenlaw business owner.

The garage would still accommodate over 1,500 cars.

However, residents say they already established plans for the neighborhood years ago as a part of Memphis 3.0, a 20-year comprehensive development plan for the city.

“Our community has a community plan, and that community plan was to make this a greenspace with commercial and residential options as well,” Peavy said.

Residents also say the land where St. Jude wants to build a new garage wasn’t a part of the hospital’s original plans either.

“Their first site was east of Danny Thomas in a more industrial kind of setting,” said Peavy.

Currently, the land between Third Street and Fourth Street is empty, except for Gayoso Bayou. It sits near a neighborhood where people often walk and bike.

Community access and walkability were supposedly valued by the Memphis 3.0 plan,” Uptown resident Ryshetta Watkins said.

The Shelby County Board of Adjustment is scheduled to make a vote Wednesday that could allow St. Jude to build the garage.

“We’re not going to give up until we’re told we have no other options,” said Peavy.

ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude, released the following statement regarding construction on the parking garage:

“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 likely will add roughly 1,800 more jobs over the next six years while continuing to expand construction and development in the front of our campus into the Pinch District as we grow our mission to advance research and lifesaving treatment for children worldwide. The growth in Memphis has fueled the need for additional new construction, including more parking, and we have continued to partner with the community to plan for a development that brings new opportunities for investment and employment to our fellow neighbors, while preserving the rich history of the area we have invested in and called home for 60 years. We have continued to engage in collaborative dialogue with our neighbors and conduct independent studies to ensure our updated, lower-height design with planned retail and community features creates a more vibrant, walkable area that enriches the neighborhood, and accommodates the growth of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and ALSAC. The planned garage, to be constructed over an open bayou, will allow us to decommission current surface parking along A.W. Willis Avenue. We look forward to meeting again with the Board of Adjustment this week to discuss our updated proposal.”

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