I don’t know whether this line has ever actually been used in a movie, but I know a lot of people think it has… when somebody has a far-fetched idea and they say “it’s so crazy it just might work!”?
I had one of those on Sunday on my way to breakfast at the Arcade (took forever to get seated and waited on, but the food came quickly once we did order). Anyway, I’m a downtowner. In the eleven years I’ve live in Memphis, I’ve spent 6 of them downtown (including the last two). There’s good and bad about living downtown. Low crime rate (about the lowest in town). No supermarket (although Midtown’s not that far away). I can see and hear the Fourth of July fireworks from my bedroom window (and yes, I’m already sorry I put the words “fireworks” and “my bedroom” in the same sentence).
I don’t even mind the Memphis in May crowds. I used to have to cover some of the events when I was working at Channel 3, so I don’t go much anymore, but I know a lot of people who do go, and it’s usually so quiet downtown that it’s nice to see bunches of folks wandering the streets. Even when they’re too loud late at night and leave their empties everywhere (including in the 2 square feet of my front yard).
One thing that I know is a drag for the folks coming down town is finding a place to park. For the Beale Street Music Festival (and probably every other Tom Lee Park event), there’s the empty lot right at Riverside and Carolina, about a block away from where Riverside is blocked off, but spaces there go for $20. Head up Carolina, prices drop to $15 and down to $10. There’s an empty lot across the street from my house, between Mid-South Casters and Delta Irrigation. It’s one of the $10 lots and it’s always full.
And of course, every inch of legal street parking south of Union Avenue and west of Second is bumper to bumper. People will circle for what seems like hours to find a good space. I feel a little guilty. I dropped a friend off at the airport, so her car is sitting in my garage until she gets back, so I couldn’t offer it to any friends heading downtown for the mud and music.
Here’s my crazy notion. I was chatting with Joe Larkins on Saturday. Pam Roberson and I were accompanying Joe and his lovely bride Bethany Smith to the Finn’s home for their annual Kentucky Derby soiree (Curtis and Alice live in a wonderful neighborhood, by the way). We were talking about problems in Memphis and the conversation turned to the empty building at the end of my block. As I’ve mentioned before, the Horizon was planned as the first building of a 2-building high-rise luxury condo community. Unfortunately, the builder was a victim of the housing crash and the building, which had been slated to open this year, remains unfinished. It’s really a shame.
But we’re talking about the challenges of finding good parking during Memphis in May. What if the bank that bought the Horizon back from the builder (but hasn’t found a new buyer or chosen to complete the project themselves) wanted to make a little money while waiting for things to turn around enough to sell the property? While the condo isn’t finished, the parking garage is – and it’s just a block or so away from where everybody enters on the south side of Tom Lee Park!
Add pavement leading up to the garage. Stick a ticket booth and an automatic arm at the entrance. Charge $10 for daily parking. Sell 3-day passes for $25. People would have a quick, easy, fairly secure place to park on their way to Music Fest, the Barbecue contest and the Sunset Symphony. The bank makes a little money until they can unload the property. The police would have an easier time of keeping track of several hundred people going to and from the events. Okay, the empty lot people lose their yearly windfall, but if it cuts down on the foot traffic in front of my door, I’m cool with it.