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Category: Public Interest

Mural planned for underpass on Cooper Street

Volunteers and Memphis College of Art students hope  to liven up the underpass on Cooper Street at Peabody Park with a vibrant mural.

A group led by Betsy Robinson has launched a fundraising campaign on ioby to raise the $1,655 needed to bring the mural to life. The group has raised $750 so far and says work on the mural, which would be located on the railroad underpass on Cooper between Higbee Avenue and Central Avenue, could begin June 1 and be completed by August 1.

“So many people drive under this forgotten trestle on a daily basis,” the group stated in its fundraising announcement.  “It is dark and dingy, yet it is in the center of a great neighborhood.  By painting a colorful mural the aesthetics and esteem of the neighborhood and its members will be increased.”

Projects like the proposed mural, while they may seem like minor improvements in the grand scheme of things, can have a profound impact. In 2001, the Cooper-Young Historic District trestle, which hovers over Cooper near Central, was dedicated. The 150-foot long steel sculpture depicting homes and businesses  in the neighborhood has since served as the  “front door” to Cooper-Young.

Speaking of Cooper-Young, the place is booming.

The Cooper Young Business Association says activity in the neighborhood is at an all-time high, with 187 businesses, including 16 that have opened since January, operating in the area. The business association recently hung 26 banners, featuring images of Cooper-Young business owners and patrons, on street poles in the area, launched a new logo for the neighborhood and made improvements to the gazebo area at the intersection of Cooper and Young Avenue.

 

 

 

University District Neighborhood Summit On Tap

With all the efforts taking place in the neighborhoods surrounding the University of Memphis officials thought it was a good time to have a public meeting to get everything on the table.

The public is invited to attend a University District Neighborhood Summit Saturday, March 22, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at St. Luke’s Church, located at 480 S. Highland St. Residents and community leaders will discuss activities, development and safety within the University District area. If an update on all the activity in the neighborhood isn’t enough to get you to attend the meeting, organizers will be providing lunch at the event.

Memphis City Council members Jim Strickland and Wanda Halbert and Shelby County Commissioner Steve Mulroy will join the discussion. There will be presentations from Shelby County Trustee David Lenoir and from the Memphis Area Association of Governments on Greenprint partnerships.

After the main program, there will be a 30-minute training session on Memphis 311 services.

The University District represents businesses, residents and organizations in seven neighborhoods surrounding the University of Memphis: East Buntyn, Joffre, Messick-Buntyn, Normal Station, Red Acres, Sherwood Forest and University North.

RSVP to Leah Dawkins at lmdwkins@memphis.edu.

On a related note, here’s the latest from our Bill Dries on the search for a new University of Memphis president.

More on the return of Frontier Airlines

Frontier Airlines made its return to Memphis Friday. Check our homepage for a full rundown of the events. You also can check out some videos from the event on my Twitter page or Vine feed.

Each of Frontier’s 56 planes has one of the airline’s animal mascots painted on the tail. The flight that landed in Memphis Friday featured “Hector” the otter, whose hobby is “taking siestas. Lots of them.” You can learn more about Frontier’s animal mascots here.  Make sure that you bookmark Frontier’s website and follow the airline on Twitter.

Memphis International Airport officials were giddy over Frontier’s return, and for good reason. Memphis International is in a transition period, moving away from a hub airport dominated by Delta Airlines to one focused on origin and destination traffic and increased competition. Since Delta pulled the plug on the hub the number of flights at Memphis International have dropped dramatically.

The changes at Memphis International prompted a $114 million concourse modernization plan, which was highlighted when the Frontier jet from Denver arrived here in Memphis.

The Frontier flight arrived at Gate C7, one of the roughly 20 – 25 gates slated to be razed under the plan. The Frontier flight landed a little earlier than its scheduled 1:30 p.m. arrival time but had to wait to pull up to the gate because of a Delta plane that was departing. There was only one lane for both planes, a situation Memphis and Shelby County Airport Authority president and CEO Scott Brockman said would be eliminated by the modernization plan.

“When people ask why we’re pursuing this plan, you just saw why,” said Brockman.

Judge approves transfer of Ashlar Hall

Environmental Court Judge Larry Potter, reversing a previous decision, upheld a 2013 transfer of Ashlar Hall from Robert “Prince Mongo” Hodges to an acquaintance who wants to turn the stately but decaying property into a home for military veterans.

However, Potter said that while he approved the transfer of the property other groups interested in rehabilitating and operating the building could still pursue their plans and that he will pick the plan that has the best chance for success.

“My concern is for a quick turnaround of this structure,” said Potter during a Friday, Feb. 28 hearing. “If there were to be a better plan that is better financed or a much faster turnaround of the rehabilitation of the property the plans of whatever is presented will be reviewed.”

Last month, a furious Potter nullified the transfer of Ashlar Hall to Kenny Medlin after Medlin had failed to produce a plan for repairing and operating the building, but Medlin submitted his plan to Potter Friday.

“Mr. Medlin has presented me a financing plan whereby he hopes to renovate Ashlar Hall and where he intends to get the resources,” said Potter.

Hodges entered into an agreement with Potter’s court and the city last year to find a new owner that could make the repairs necessary to bring the 11,114-square-foot building into compliance. But Hodges deeded the property over to Medlin without Potter’s consent.

Two other groups are still actively pursuing Ashlar Hall.

Joe Thordarson, founder of the Memphis Comic and Fantasy Convention, plans to turn the building into a center for the arts.

“The question of ownership was settled today but the question of use of the building was not and I’m going to double-down on my pursuit of creating the AshlarHallCenter for the Arts,” said Thordarson.

Ty Cobb, founder of the nonprofit Have a Standard Foundation, said he will still pursue plans to turn the building into a center for experiential learning. Cobb’s foundation operates the CoreFire Commando learning program inside the AutoZoneChallengeCenter at the KrocCenter, which uses challenging games to foster an environment of innovation and teamwork.

Ashlar Hall, which was built in 1897 and served as the home of real estate developer Robert Brinkley Snowden, has turned into a dilapidated eyesore.

Hodges’ brother, Bernard Hodges, acquired the property for $300,000 in 1993 before transferring it via warranty deed to 1397 Central Ave LP in 1994. Robert Hodges began operating The Castle nightclub at the property after his brother acquired it, before closing the club’s doors around a decade later. The building has been vacant and deteriorating ever since, racking up a host of city code violations.

Potter said his goal is to find a viable owner that can save the building from the wrecking ball.

Memphis International Airport Joins Twitterverse

Memphis International Airport has taken flight on Twitter.

The airport joined the popular social networking site on Friday, Jan. 14 with @flymemphis.

The airport, which is under new leadership, has been criticized for having a poor public communications strategy but has taken steps to change that reputation. The airport has hired a public information officer and entered into a cooperative marketing agreement with the airlines to market service to and from Memphis.

Dansette

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