MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - There are new signs of life at Overton Square. Memphis City Councilman Jim Strickland says flooding in the area will soon be a thing of the past thanks to an 18-million dollar parking garage now under construction. It's all part of the rebirth of the midtown entertainment district.
“We keep losing population in Memphis,” says Strickland. “We lose about half a percent of our population every year. We’ve got to do something to give this city a boost.”
So look around at what’s happening at Overton Square. There are signs that life is returning to the petrified entertainment district. This area of Madison hasn’t seen this much live at the Square since the hey days of the 70's, when all you needed was a polyester leisure suit, a big fattie, and an 8-track playing Steppenwolf. Strickland says “I think in another year, year and a half, Overton Square is going to be bustling.”
Memphis is often a city known for it’s 'can’t do' mentality. Bring a basketball team to Memphis... are you kidding? No way. Rebuild Overton Square... nope, can’t do it. It’ll fail. Regional designer Charles “Chooch” - yes, he calls himself “Chooch” - Charles “Chooch” Pickard says the Overton Square renovation and revitalization can make it. “The downfall of the old Overton Square,” Pickard says, “...was the ownership of it after the original developers left. It was out of town owners who really didn’t get it. A lot of people blame it on Beale Street, but I really don’t think that was the case.”
The experts say success here helps everybody. Success is spelled m-o-n-e-y. “We are losing businesses and people,” City Councilman Jim Strickland says. “We need to give people a reason to come into Memphis to spend their money, to increase our revenue, to get them to start their businesses here. I think Overton Square will help us along that path in both attracting people to the city and attracting businesses.”