Hip To Be Square 

New plan for Overton Square preserves character and old buildings.

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Loeb Properties is remaining tight-lipped about which grocery store chain might build a 53,000-square-foot facility in Overton Square, but they're not holding back on sharing other plans for the Midtown location.

At a public meeting last week, president Bob Loeb said he hoped plans for the property would serve as a model for the recently-passed Midtown Overlay, a set of rules guiding new construction and renovation to preserve the character of certain Midtown neighborhoods.

Here's a handy guide to how Loeb's Overton Square plan complies with the overlay plan plus a few extra fun facts.

1. Loeb may remove the old Palm Court building that once housed an ice skating rink and Le Chardonnay. A new, smaller building and parking lot would take its place. Said Matt Prince of Loeb Properties, "We needed connectivity between sites, so when someone leaves the parking garage, they can see through that alley." However, Prince said there is still a possibility of saving and reusing the Palm Court structure.

2. The overlay plan calls for streetscape improvements with native trees and plants. In the Loeb plan, trees line Cooper, Trimble, Florence, Monroe, and part of Madison.

3. The turn lane at the southwest corner of Madison and Cooper will be filled in, creating a pedestrian-friendly courtyard. Cars turning right from Madison onto Cooper will be forced to come to a complete stop before turning. The Midtown Overlay seeks to create cyclist- and pedestrian-friendly communities.

4. Under the Loeb plan, the former Looney Bin comedy club, as well as the building that houses Golden India and Memphis Pizza Café, will be spared (The now-defunct Sooner Investment plan called for razing the buildings). Loeb said they hope to attract a mix of retail and restaurants for empty spaces in these buildings.

5. Though its future occupant is still a mystery, the side of the grocery store will be along Cooper and will feature a set of windows, allowing for transparency. Prince said the grocery entrance will likely face the parking garage.

6. In compliance with the overlay plan, parking for the new grocery store will be hidden from major traffic. Loeb plans to construct a two-story garage with 301 spaces. Under the garage, a drainage basin will serve as part of the solution to Midtown's Lick Creek flooding problem.

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