Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Bygone Days: Paving paradise

The following items about the Front Street/Monroe Avenue parking garage have appeared in the "Bygone Days" columns in the Commercial Appeal.

April 19, 1950
Studies of the Mississippi River bluff between Union and Monroe just west of Front will be made by the city to determine if the incline could be hollowed out and used for an underground parking garage. The site is now occupied by Central Headquarters of the Memphis Fire Department, and it is understood Mayor Overton favors keeping the Front Street level of the area for the fire station.

September 19, 1950
Plans for a 500-car underground parking garage in part of the city-owned bluff now occupied by Central Fire Department headquarters between Union and Monroe were released yesterday by Mayor Overton. The suggestion includes using the top of the garage at the level of Front Street for a 125- by 300-foot park with a clear view of the Mississippi River. The location is near the center of the department store district and other large com-mercial establishments.

September 3, 1952
Memphis' old fire training tower at Front and Monroe, which must be razed to make way for the city's new underground garage, will be replaced elsewhere by a new $90,000 multi-purpose structure, City Commissioner Claude A. Armour said last night. The commissioner said the new building will be as modern as any in existence, if not the most modern. Its location has not been determined. However, Commissioner Armour favors the old rodeo arena in the northeast corner of the Fairgrounds, just west of the National Guard Armory.

January 24, 1953
Mayor Watkins Overton reported yesterday he is pushing a city public works program for 1953, which will cost an estimated $10 million or more. The mayor's suggestions come at a time when the various city agencies are compiling lists of projects for which they will need bond funds the next two years. The state Legislature will be asked to authorize bond issues for amounts city officials finally agree upon. Mayor Overton disclosed that he met Wednesday with school officials and finds they will need "at least two million dollars" this year for new construction. Other big projects the mayor said should be started this year are: the Negro hospital and nurses home at Dunlap and Jefferson (estimated to cost more than two million dollars); the underground parking garage at Front and Monroe ($1,250,000); and the new central library at Peabody and McLean ($750,000).

July 31, 1954
Final official action necessary before construction of a parking garage at Front and Monroe was taken yesterday by the City Commission. Sitting in special session, the officials approved a lease agreement with Southern Builders, Inc., and National Retail Centers Inc. to build and operate the long-delayed, much-needed facility.

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