Preserving Memphis’ Heritage

It’s getting to be a familiar battle in Memphis’ civic discussion – the tradeoff between saving old buildings (whether they have historic value or not) and when it makes sense to allow new investment and development to take their place.

Frequently at the center of that push-and-pull is June West, executive director of Memphis Heritage. Talk to her often enough, and you’re bound to hear her insist some version of this simple declaration: “We’re not anti-development.”

This week’s cover story in The Memphis News puts West and her role with Memphis Heritage in the context of several recent high-profile development battles. West and her group lately seem to be on a roll, with their opposition forcing Chick-fil-A to preserve the wall of an older building where the restaurant built a Midtown restaurant; rebuffing a grocery store-themed redevelopment of Overton Square; and preventing a drug store from redeveloping a church building at the intersection of Union and Cooper.

Although that last battle is not entirely finished, as the story points out.