City Council Committee Approves Lease of Property for Overton Square Garage

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Plans to build a $16 million parking garage and Lick Creek flood retention basin in Overton Square are moving right along, thanks to the Memphis City Council's executive committee approving the acquisition and lease of property for the garage's development today.

The resolution that passed also approved the lease of that Overton Square property to Loeb Properties and Hattiloo Theatre to further the Square's redevelopment.

The 450-space parking garage, designed by Looney Ricks Kiss, will be built atop a flood basin designed to collect 28 percent of the excess runoff water that may collect in a 20-year flood event. Pumps installed in the basin will help drain the water. The garage will be built on the far end of the massive parking lot that faces Side Street Grill and TheatreWorks. Hattiloo Theatre will locate to a newly constructed space in front of the garage facing Cooper.

Part of the funds that will be used to build the garage and basin are federal disaster relief dollars acquired by the city after a May 2010 Lick Creek flooding event, and the rest is public dollars.

"Engineers agree that Lick Creek is the most sensitive basin in Memphis," said architect Tom Marshall.

Marshall presented a slide slow that identified 48 city projects that could help mitigate flooding in other areas of town. But that wasn't enough to please city councilwoman Wanda Halbert, who complained that the city didn't have enough concrete plans to resolve flooding issues in other areas.

"I would appreciate not having to back into my community and explain to them why I'm using their tax dollars on this project that deals with more than flooding," Halbert said, in reference to the fact that taxpayer dollars are being spent not only on the flood basin, but on the parking garage.

City director of Housing and Community Development Robert Libscomb said he would come back to the council soon to present the city's plans for other areas.

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