Midtown residents hoping to save homes from possible demolition

Published: Jun. 6, 2023 at 10:34 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 6, 2023 at 10:41 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Memphians living in Midtown are sounding the alarm in hopes of saving two homes at risk of being demolished.

They say the reminders of Midtown’s history could be erased if the new owners get their way.

Fifty-five residents wrote to the Shelby County Land Use Control Board in May to save the homes. A petition online has garnered the signatures of 1,264 people.

If you live or travel through Midtown Memphis, you may have seen two homes nestled behind businesses and apartments on South McLean and Union Avenue.

“Why are we tearing history apart?” asked Midtown resident Gabriel Dixon. “Why can’t we restore and preserve rather than tear it down to build something that’s not got any purpose?”

Both Dixon and Midtown resident Tracey Brown want to prevent a possible future development there.

“It’s hard to find spaces like that and to find a home here like that that gives me apart of everything that I love about Memphis, it would be a devastating loss to lose something like that,” said Brown.

Documents shared with the Shelby County Land Use Control Board show the owners, McLean Partners LLC, want to put a building on an acre of land replacing two businesses there, one of them being the metaphysical healing shop Lucyja Hugge.

“I think about our elders being on this busy street possibly breaking out and getting loose out here and getting hurt, but also I would think in their later years of life they would want a little bit of peace and quiet,” said Lucyja Hugge healing practitioner Ashli Scott. “A little bit of peace of mind.”

There is a discrepancy on when the homes were built; a representative for the owners told Land Use Control Board members one was built in 1967, but others claim the home was built in 1910.

Both homes in question, 42 S. McLean and 48 S. McLean, are not on the historic land registry.

The representative also claims there is a need for assisted living in the area, citing a study.

Still many worry about a new development potentially changing the culture of Midtown.

“Madison and McLean near us, we have the new Citizen, those were on the corner but those were dilapidated properties or small former gas stations,” said Jerred Price, former president of the Downtown Neighborhood Association and candidate for Memphis City Council Super District 8. “We’re not talking about tearing down historic century-old buildings that are in great shape and occupied.”

At a meeting in May, some board members stressed concern for tearing down homes and shutting businesses out of Midtown but mentioned the owners legally have the right to develop.

Board members delayed action on approving a special exception allowing the owners to build four stories for future development during that meeting.

Some suggested the owners speak with the Central Gardens and Evergreen Historic District Board about their intentions for the land in question.

The Shelby County Land Use Control Board is meeting Thursday, June 8, at 9 a.m., to vote on whether or not to approve the special exception.

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