Memphis will join in International Parking Day 2022 on Friday, September 16, from 3 – 7 p.m. in front of Cash Saver grocery on Madison Avenue.
It’s MidtownMemphis.org,’s second year of organizing the event, which is part of the global art project. It is equal parts playful and practical and whose purpose is to show how street parking can be repurposed into tiny parks and places for art, fun, activism, and neighborhood pride.
The stated purpose of Parking Day is to create safer, greener, and more equitable streets for people and to be part of the conversation about how cities are designed.
Memphis’ Parking Day will take place on Madison between Avalon and Angelus where Cash Saver is located. It’s an area that is receiving special attention by MidtownMemphis.org, a nonprofit group promoting economic development, smart development, culture and recreation, and historically authentic architecture in Midtown. Annually, it presents its Mojo Awards to people and organizations who are contributing to the protection and preservation of the Midtown character and vibe.
With dramatic improvements at the Edge District and Overton Square, the target area is a key connector, particularly in light of MATA’s Innovation Corridor plan.
The Importance of Trees
Parking Day is all about inspiring the public to think about how much public space is being consumed by cars and how it could be used differently. MidtownMemphis.org has an emphasis on creating more tree-lined streets, said Emily Bishop, treasurer of the organization.
That’s why one of the Parking Day partners Is the gifted planner and horticulturalist Mary Baker who will have rooted trees on display. Also, Memphis City Beautiful is partnering and in November, will plant a dozen trees on Angelus.
Already, there have been plantings of native plants on Avalon.
“This area appeals to us because we have the Madison Avenue Midtown Improvement plan to bring more trees to Midtown,” said Ms. Bishop. “Cash Saver is an area we’ve focused on. Parking lanes were created when Madison Avenue was restriped for biking lanes. We have large surface lots so we want to bring some attention and love to the area.”
Use Your Imagination
For Parking Day, groups will set up creative spaces designed to spark new thinking about how the parking spaces could be better used to improve the livability of the area.
“It’s a great time to think differently about how parking places are used,” said Ms. Bishop. To gather as much input as possible, MidtownMemphis.org has gathered information from people at bus stops, people riding buses, Cash Saver customers, and more. There also was an online survey.
It’s all part of the organization’s Madison Avenue Midtown Improvement plan with the goal of making the area safer and more attractive and strengthening its sense of place. Ms. Bishop said the motivation is to show the city that this is an area that Memphians should care about.
Ultimately, they would like to see Madison between Avalon and Angelus become a no parking zone and with the planting of trees.
Madison Avenue Midtown Improvement Plan
Information about the Madison Avenue Midtown Improvement Plan will be available at Parking Day.
“This is an opportunity for Midtown Memphis to step up,” she said. “We want to do anything we can do to add more trees, especially with the impact of climate change.” Recent research concluded that Memphis will be one of the country’s hottest cities in the future with temperatures climbing 30 degrees in only a few decades.
Parking Day is a good time to reimagine a different future of Memphis neighborhoods, but also an opportunity to reflect on how important organizations like MidtownMemphis.org is In Memphis shaping its own destiny.
The group’s origins track back to the 2005 Heart of the Arts plan by Looney, Ricks & Kiss architects and funded by City of Memphis Division of Housing and Urban Development headed by Robert Lipscomb. The report not only painted a picture of what Overton Square could be but the vision contributed to government opposition to what would have been a disastrous decision – razing most of Overton Square for a huge discount grocery store.
The Heart of the Arts Origin
For those who would say the goals of Parking Day and the Madison Avenue Midtown Improvement Plan can’t be reached, it’s the perfect time to reflect on how the Overton Square dealt with isolated arts venues, inappropriate suburban-style commercial development, neglected residential, and poor condition of public spaces.
“The plan sought to overcome these challenges by improving streetscapes and making new connections, concentrating commercial uses at key nodes, promoting resident and mixed-use development, and fostering the whole arts experience with improved public spaces, public art, and street level retail activities,” the report said, which added that improvements would need to be enacted piece by piece over time.
MidtownMemphis.org continues that legacy today.
As Heart of the Arts evolved into MidtownMemphis.org, the vision, activism, and imagination of the report became the DNA for the Midtown group with an emphasis on better public spaces, better neighborhood connectivity, more coordinated marketing, mixed-use development at key intersection, preservation and protection of historic architecture.
It’s this kind of individual and organizational commitment that has created the distinctive, active, vibrant, and creative environment that is Midtown today.
Parking Day is a reminder of how oft-ignored, oft-underappreciated location in front of Cash Saver can become the latest chapter of success in the history of one of the city’s most important neighborhood.
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