Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Kroc Campaign Completed

Posted By on Wed, Nov 25, 2009 at 10:28 AM

I heard word of this last week, but the Salvation Army has announced it has raised the $25 million needed to begin the Kroc Center.

The funds will enable the Kroc Center to receive more than $62 million from the Ray and Joan Kroc estate.

“With only a few outstanding pledges and giving requests to finalize, we have begun the process of receiving construction bids and expect to have a formal groundbreaking ceremony in the early spring,” said Stephen Carpenter, director of operations for the Kroc Center, was quoted in a release as saying.

The 100,000-square-foot facility will include a 300-seat performing arts and worship center, a basketball court, indoor and outdoor sports fields, a fitness center, an aquatics center, and an outdoor splash park.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Playhouse Sneak Peek

Posted By on Mon, Nov 23, 2009 at 9:54 AM

I probably should have passed this on to Intermission Impossible, but I think it will interest a broad range of people. Plus, it's every blogger for himself or herself around here.

Anyhoo, a friend of mine alerted me to the Morris Architects' tumblr page, where they are documenting the construction of the new Playhouse on the Square building at Union and Cooper.

Here is a picture of the lobby.

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And this is just cool.

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To see more, click here.

Thanks, Naomi!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Community Congress in Frayser and Raleigh

Posted By on Fri, Nov 20, 2009 at 3:56 PM

Mayor A C Wharton's office just announced that the mayor would be convening a community congress Monday, November 30th, in response to recent gun-related fatalities in Frayser and Raleigh.

"The purpose of this meeting is to ignite a bottom-up, inside-out approach to addressing the epidemic of gun violence," Wharton is quoted in a release as saying. "I have repeatedly described gun crime as a public health crisis, and it must be treated just as we would any disease: with containment and prevention one person, household, block, and neighborhood at a time.”

The community congress, which will include citizens, law enforcement officers, business owners, and other stakeholders will take place at Golden Gate Cathedral, 3240 James Road.

Four recent murders have taken place within a four-square mile area of Golden Gate Cathedral.

Blatant Rumor Mongering

Posted By on Fri, Nov 20, 2009 at 8:30 AM

Speaking of grants from wealthy entrepreneurs ...

I heard a rumor today that the local Salvation Army has raised the $25 million it needed to match the $60 million from Ray & Joan Kroc Trust to build the Kroc Center on the fairgrounds.

Which could mean they'll be breaking ground very, very soon.

Details to come.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

MCS Gets Gates Grant

Posted By on Thu, Nov 19, 2009 at 12:27 PM

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced today that it would invest $335 million to support effective teaching, including $90 million to Memphis City Schools for its Teacher Effectiveness Initiative (TEI).

"We are convinced that in order to dramatically improve education in America, we must first ensure that every student has an effective teacher in every subject, every school year," Melinda Gates said. "These communities have shown extraordinary commitment to tackling one of the most important education issues of our time."

To read specifics about what MCS plans to do with the funding — to be awarded over six years — here is an earlier blog post.

The announcement of the grants culminated a yearlong application process. Other funding was awarded to Hillsborough County Public Schools in Florida, Pittsburgh Public Schools, and a coalition of charter school management organizations in Los Angeles.

Court Order Lifted at Jail

Posted By on Thu, Nov 19, 2009 at 12:22 PM

This escaped my notice for a little while, but I thought it was still important to post.

When I came to the Flyer a million and a half year ago, one of the "big" stories was conditions at 201 Poplar.

After being raped by three gang members while in jail, an inmate filed a federal lawsuit in 1995. The lawsuit led to a court-ordered evaluation of the jail, which found overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, and a slow processing system, conditions that violated the constitutional rights of inmates, and federal oversight of the facility.

Continue reading »

Square Feedback

Posted By on Thu, Nov 19, 2009 at 10:50 AM

This week, in our print product, Chris Davis reported on a recent Memphis Heritage meeting about plans for future development in Overton Square. (You can read that story here.)

The assembled crowd wasn't too happy with the plan to demolish the buildings on the south side of Madison at Cooper. The plans for the property also include a new grocery store, but some community members are concerned no matter how well-intentioned the developers that a discount grocery store will open there.

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Now SquareTalk.org is asking community members for input on what businesses "old or new" they'd like to see be part of the new Overton Square. The Memphis Regional Design Center will then forward those responses on to the developers.

So far, the sole response calls for a Whole Foods or a Trader Joe's.

The developers plan to submit their plans to the Office of Planning and Development in early December.

You can also see the results of the regional design center's earlier Overton Square survey here. A majority of the web respondents wanted to see a combination of preserving and demolishing the buildings on the south side of Madison. Almost 70 percent said they wanted to see a grocery store in the area.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Gates Grant Decision Expected Tomorrow

Posted By on Tue, Nov 17, 2009 at 1:47 PM

If all goes as it hopes, the Memphis City Schools (MCS) soon will be almost $92 million richer.

MCS is supposed to hear tomorrow if it will be awarded two grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. One, for roughly $90 million spread over six years, would be used for the district’s new Teacher Effectiveness Initiative (commonly called the TEI). The other, for $1.9 million, would fund research into what makes a teacher “effective.”

“As far back as you want to go, parents have always known who the best teachers were at a school. Students have always known,” said MCS superintendent Kriner Cash. “For educators, it was a bit like the blind man and the elephant.”

Continue reading »

Friday, November 13, 2009

Junkyard Broad-Bound?

Posted By on Fri, Nov 13, 2009 at 8:30 AM

The Junkyard Museum isn’t even built yet and it’s already got people saying they should have another kid.

Or a kid.

Though the Junkyard is located temporarily at the old Marine Hospital near the National Ornamental Metal Museum, founder Lisa Williamson would like the art museum’s permanent home to be on Broad Avenue.

“I’ve been looking at Broad Avenue for a long time,” she said at a meeting of the Historic Broad Avenue Business Association last night. “If it were just up to me, I’d put it here in a second. Everybody’s rallied around me … I already feel at home here.”

The Junkyard will be an interactive art museum using found objects and architectural salvage to create climbable sculptures. Though many childrens museums try to prepare kids for adulthood, the Junkyard — and museums like it, such as the City Museum in St. Louis — would encourage teenagers and adults to be kids again.

Continue reading »

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mad Dash

Posted By on Wed, Nov 11, 2009 at 11:03 AM

Last night, armed with wine, cheese, and homemade bread, members of the local arts community, the Midtown Development Corporation, and transportation advocates got back on the bus.

The bus ride was a test run for Go M.A.D. Transit, which stands for Midtown and Downtown.

"For the past several months, we've been trying to find ways of linking Midtown with Downtown," said Playhouse on the Square's Jackie Nichols. "Tonight, we're taking the route and enjoying each others' company."

With 24 stops, the M.A.D. Dash would link four colleges, eight neighborhoods, 10 arts venues, and eight cultural sites, and, if last night was any indication, take about an hour to make the full loop.

The bus' double loop, which would be centered on Overton Square, would go west on Linden, south on Main Street to the National Civil Rights Museum, east on Madison, then head north on Cooper and around Overton Park, south on East Parkway to Cooper-Young, and then back to Overton Square.

Continue reading »

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Opened Records

Posted By on Tue, Nov 10, 2009 at 11:25 AM

Memphis mayor A C Wharton signed an executive order this morning expanding the public's access to City records.

I wasn't there — deadline day and all — but the order dictates that the salaries of city employees will be posted to the city website. The website will also include a list of city contractors and the size of their contracts.

"Personnel costs and outside contracts comprise the majority of the city budget," Wharton was quoted as saying in a release. "Taxpayers should know how those funds are being spent and with whom."

Continue reading »

Monday, November 9, 2009

Overton Square Away?

Posted By on Mon, Nov 9, 2009 at 4:38 PM

Last week, when they tore down Anderton's — see the previous post — bloggers and commenters around town lamented the loss of the Midtown landmark. People scavenged through the wreckage to take home a piece of history, and there was some question as to why it was torn down now.

If you were one of the people upset about Anderton's, you might also be interested in the future of nearby Overton Square. Memphis Heritage will be hosting a meeting this Thursday, November 12th, to talk about the proposed Overton Square development. It will be at Memphis Heritage's Howard Hall, 2282 Madison, at 6 p.m. The developers have been invited to attend.

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In June, the City Council passed a resolution that stipulated that any demolition at Overton Square would have to be approved by the council. The move was designed to insure there is a dialogue between the community and the developers before any permanent action is taken.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Anderton's Away

Posted By on Thu, Nov 5, 2009 at 8:00 AM

I drove by Anderton's yesterday on the off chance that there might still be some cool stuff to scavenge, and I have to admit, I almost drove right by it.

I've seen it a million times. I've driven past it a million times. In fact, my first wreck in Memphis happened right in front of it (someone rear-ended me, totally not my fault).

So how could I miss it?

Quite simply, because it was gone.

Continue reading »

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

For Scrap

Posted By on Tue, Nov 3, 2009 at 2:38 PM

The Memphis City Council's executive committee today sent an amendment to the city's scrap metal ordinance down to full council today for its first reading.

The city first enacted a scrap metal ordinance in 2007. The ordinance requires dealers to tag and hold scrap metal for 10 days to give the police time to track down stolen material. To deter thieves from stealing metal from air conditioning units, vacant homes and buildings, or cars for quick money, sellers are not given cash immediately, but instead receive a voucher from the scrap metal dealer.

The proposed amendment includes a tag-and-hold provision for telephone wire and cable, copper tubing, metals that have owner identification on them, catalytic converters, chain-link fences, and railroad spikes.

"That covers all the metals that are normally stolen," said council member Jim Strickland.

Continue reading »

City School in Session

Posted By on Tue, Nov 3, 2009 at 12:01 PM

Last spring, I took the Memphis Regional Design Center's Design 101 class.

This "semester," one of the sessions — happening tonight — is open to the public.

Richard Baron, co-founder and chaiman of McCormack Baron Salazar, will be speaking tonight as part of a panel discussion at CBU's Buckman Hall from 5 - 7 p.m. The cost of the event is $10.

Other panelists include Rosalyn Willis of McCormack Baron Salazar, Archie Willis III from Community Capital, and Architecture Incorporated principal David Schuermann.

The panel will discuss McCormack Baron Salazar's Hope VI projects across the country and in Memphis — including University Place and the still under construction Legends Park — and the company's "efforts to rebuild urban neighborhoods in central cities that have deteriorated through decades of neglect and disinvestment. Mr. Baron will discuss how they strengthen neighborhood social structures in partnership with community organizations and how their emphasis on community building encourages socio-economic and physical revitalization."

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