Weekly Update

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As you may recall, parking at the Zoo and on the Greensward, is something we’ve been working towards a solution for a long time. Earlier this week, I’m proud to say that we, along with the Zoo and the Overton Park Conservancy (OPC), agreed on a permanent solution to this problem.


Here is our plan.


The current zoo maintenance area near North Parkway will be converted to Zoo member parking, adding a minimum of an additional 300 spaces, and fully meeting the requirements laid out in our agreement from 2017.


The main Zoo lot may undergo a small renovation/restriping within its existing footprint to add more spaces but without expanding the lot size.


City crews will be vacating the 12-acre General Services maintenance facility on East Parkway near Poplar Avenue. Once they have moved out, the Zoo maintenance staff will move in and occupy the buildings and grounds approximately north of the service road/entrance into the facility (approximately 6 acres). 


At that time, the southern portion of the space will be returned to recreational usage for the general public, including a new access point to the trails through the old forest.


In place of the berm that demarked the edge of zoo parking at the Greensward, a new perimeter walking path will be established at the boundary of current Zoo parking and the northern edge of the Greensward, along with additional plantings that will serve to separate the existing parking area from the Greensward.


In addition, the 17 acres of old forest that were once reserved for expansion of the Zoo will now forever remain old forest.  The City of Memphis has asked that OPC manage this new area of old forest.


This is a solution that we think works for everyone.


It adds significant new park space for Memphians; it preserves 17 acres of old forest; it provides the Zoo with the parking it needs as a top attraction in our region; and it provides the Zoo with a better maintenance facility to continue their great operation.


It also allows both OPC and the Zoo to avoid spending for what had become a $2.5 million cost for expansion of the main lot and preserves those funds for other purposes.


You will see changes as soon as this fall when some of the “lines of demarcation” start to change – fences coming down or being realigned (to be less noticeable) and new plans produced for the “perimeter path” that will serve as a “berm” to permanently end parking on the Greensward.


We anticipate that, by the summer of 2023, City staff will have been relocated and Zoo maintenance beginning occupancy, and a new parking lot will be installed at the former maintenance facility.


Thank you to Doug McGowen, our Chief Operating Officer, Jim Dean and his staff at the Memphis Zoo, Tina Sullivan and her staff at the Overton Park Conservancy, and to Councilman Jeff Warren for their efforts to help us find a solution.


A favor: I have a favor to ask of you and a public service announcement.


The favor—if you can, please show up early to the remaining Grizz games. We want a packed house, and we want everyone watching the game to feel the energy from our team and our fans through their screens.


Equally as important, you may have noticed we have quite bit of construction happening downtown. So, the days of leaving your house last minute and expecting to get parked and in your seat by game time are gone; give yourself some extra time.


Members of my team met with Grizzlies operational staff and MPD yesterday to work on smoothing out traffic flow to help make it as painless as possible for you to get to the games, but we also need your help.


Get there early, and rock the house to support our Grizzlies.


The PSAthe FedExForum parking garage is for pass holders only during Grizz games. Translation—if you don’t have a pass, don’t try to park in the FedExForum garage for the game.


We have ample parking downtown as you can see in the map below, and you can go here for an interactive parking map of downtown locations.




All that to say, we want to show the best of Memphis (our team and our fans) to everyone watching, and we need your help to do it.


160 years of service: For 160 years LeMoyne-Owen College has been grooming young minds through education. Earlier today, I had the opportunity to share in their celebration.




To Dr. Vernell A. Bennett-Fairs, the Board of Trustees, the staff, and students—congratulations on this tremendous milestone. Thank you for all you do for Memphis.


Having an institution like this in our city is absolutely invaluable, and I hope to see it around for at least another 160 years.    


Black Restaurant Week: This week is Memphis Black Restaurant Week, and I took full advantage. We had lunch with some of our City of Memphis team yesterday at Evelyn & Olive, and earlier in the week, I met my friend Larry Mells at Peggy’s. The food at both establishments did not disappoint.




Thanks to Cynthia Daniels for organizing this event each year and for her work to promote and help grow our black-owned businesses. If you haven’t gone out yet to support Memphis Black Restaurant Week, there’s still time. It runs through tomorrow.


Leadership Memphis Awards: Just a few hours ago, the City of Memphis was announced as a 2022 Community Champion at the Leadership Memphis Awards Luncheon. Additionally, our Chief Operating Officer, Doug McGowen, was named the Kate Gooch Leader of the Year.


I am so honored to work with each of our outstanding professionals at the City of Memphis, and it’s so humbling when an outside entity recognizes your accomplishments.


President George H.W. Bush often cited the phrase “CAVU—ceiling and visibility unlimited”.  It certainly fits Doug, a former pilot, but it also applies to all of our employees as well.


Thanks for all you do.


Enjoy your weekend!



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