Thursday, December 14, 2017

Cooper-Young Nears Historical Landmark Status

Posted By on Thu, Dec 14, 2017 at 12:15 PM


Cooper-Young is a step closer to becoming a historic overlay district, as Thursday the joint Memphis and Shelby County Land Use Control Board (LUCB) voted in favor of the neighborhood’s historical designation.

The board voted unanimously, supporting the neighborhood’s landmark status, but historical status will ultimately be decided by the Memphis City Council early next year.

Before the board voted, residents from the neighborhood both for and against the designation spoke on the record.

Those in support said that historic protection would preserve the historical housing stock in Cooper-Young, increase property values, strengthen the neighborhood, and eliminate infill houses that don’t “match Cooper-Young.”

One speaker pointed out that compared to other Memphis historical districts’ guidelines, the ones proposed for Cooper-Young are “minimal in nature and therefore shouldn’t be a huge burden to the residents.”

However, a few residents spoke in opposition, saying that the neighborhood includes a lot of working-class people who “really can’t afford to make it through another whole layer of bureaucracy.”

“Not everyone can afford to maintain their properties to the standards set forth by a third party,” one speaker said.

But, chair of the board, Jon McCreery said the mission of the LUCB and Cooper-Young's application for landmark status "are in lockstep" from a land-use perspective. 

In October, the Memphis Landmark Commission voted six to one, approving the Cooper-Young Community Association’s (CYCA) application for historic protection.

Historical protection would put a set of guidelines in place that would regulate residential demolition, new construction, and add-ons in the neighborhood.

New construction guidelines touch on height, size, roof shape, and building material requirements.

Kristen Schebler, former executive director of CYCA, said all of the guidelines are meant to maintain the neighborhood’s historical characteristics, and avoid new houses built with features that “don’t “fit the feeling of Cooper-Young,” like garages that face the street.

Schebler said these take up much of the house's front facade and limit interaction among residents.

Roughly bounded by Central on the north, East Parkway on the east, Southern on the south, and Mclean on the west, the new historic overlay district would span 335 acres and include about 1,600 households.

The Memphis City Council will take three votes on the landmark designation, with the third taking placing in late February.

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