Friday, October 10, 2008

Plan aims to aid pedestrian, traffic flow in Germantown Parkway, Fischer Steel area

Artist rendering of Raleigh-LaGrange transformed
into a parkway beside Shelby Farms Park.

By Pamela Perkins (Contact), Memphis Commercial Appeal
Monday, September 29, 2008

Better road connections between Germantown Parkway and Shelby Farms Park. Safer connections from one Cordova shopping center to another. And friendly neighborhood pedestrian and bicycle connections to everywhere.

Those ideas are in a preliminary plan on what should be done with a 600-acre wedge of land around the Germantown Parkway and Fischer Steel intersection.

"It's a blueprint for a great facelift," said Cordova resident Anthony Culver, who attended a series of public forums called the "Fischer Steel Road Area Planning Charrette" that helped shape the plan. They studied the area roughly bordered by the CSX rail line, Raleigh-LaGrange and various roads just east of Germantown Parkway.

The plan includes a pathway under a widened Raleigh-LaGrange road into Shelby Farms, better pedestrian and traffic flow between shopping areas along Germantown Parkway and a walkable neighborhood with bicycle lanes.

"I'm really impressed, particularly with the design for Raleigh-LaGrange Road. I can ride my bike to church," Culver said. Now, "there's no shoulder on Raleigh-LaGrange and getting across Germantown Parkway is not easy."

Memphis and Shelby County planners and Austin-based planning consultants Code Studio hosted the forums to analyze land uses that are allowed and should be allowed in the area, which is mostly zoned industrial.

After finalizing the plan, the firm could be ready to make zoning recommendations sometime in November that could lead to permanent zoning changes and road improvements.

Replacing industrial zoning with more restrictive zoning could bring neighbors and developers the comfort of predictability when new businesses move in.

It might have given more comfort to neighbors who had learned over the past two years that a topless nightclub owner was building a restaurant across from GameDay's baseball fields. Despite Steve Cooper's denials, many Cordovans still believe the structure may become a strip club.

At the final forum last week, Lee Einsweiler of Code Studio said any developments in the study area should complement and connect to the park, which has a multi-million dollar facelift planned. The plan also complements the proposed Greater Memphis Greenline, a redevelopment of the CSX rail line into a landscaped urban trail.

Proposed road improvements are also meant to improve traffic flow to and from GameDay Baseball's 10-diamond First Tennessee Fields baseball complex on Fischer Steel just west of Germantown Parkway. It is planning an $80 million expansion.

-- Pamela Perkins: 529-6514

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