MEMPHIS, TN - A new plan to redevelop Overton Square is getting serious. Earlier this year, an out-of-town investor pulled out after community backlash over the plans. Now, a local developer with another plan is talking to neighbors first.
The new plans for Overton Square still include a big grocery store in what's now a vacant parking lot, but those working closely with the developer say everything else surrounding it, including the communication is totally different.
A bulldog for historic preservation, June West plays hardball with developers who want to come into Midtown.
“We want a pedestrian walkable community with sidewalks and trees,” said West, Executive Director of Memphis Heritage.
She and Memphis Heritage, along with the Midtown community, basically booted the last group that looked at Overton Square out of town. But this time, the developer is homegrown.
“We're very, very pleased that Bob Loeb and Loeb Properties has stepped in to take a real interest in Overton Square,” West said.
And Loeb is looking for input from the community on the front end. West hosted a meeting Wednesday for Loeb to get feedback from Overton Square property owners.
“He's been very transparent and very open, and it builds trust,” West said. “And that's what it's all about.”
West says Loeb plans to preserve all but one of the buildings along Madison. He'll build a grocery store in the middle of the now empty square and a two story parking garage.
“That will help all the different residents and businesses in this area to be able to have parking,” said West. “That's a big thing for a lot of retailers in this area.”
All this is preliminary, but Midtown is already buzzing. Being local makes all the difference.
“Everything we've seen so far, we really like,” said West. “He's really using the Midtown Overlay as a leading design quality, and that's really a quality to be admired. A lot of developers want to balk and fight it, and Midtowners want it.”
And there's an added bonus for Midtowners. West says developers are even considering an underground water retention area beneath the parking garage for the grocery store that could help out with flooding from Lick Creek.
There will be more meetings with the community regarding Loeb's possible development of Overton Square.
Bob Loeb didn't want to talk about the project with us on camera. He tells abc24.com he's excited about the prospect and looks forward to having more details about the plans in the New Year.