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Fixer Upper

Group raises money to repair Peabody Park pavilion.

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Bright yellow caution tape and a "closed" sign warn Peabody Park visitors to avoid the old wooden pavilion that once served as the park's centerpiece.

The city closed the structure two months ago because the rotting floor decking poses a safety risk. But a new preservation group hopes to make the pavilion's renovation its first project.

"If it's not fixed, it will eventually fall down. But it's a great structure, and it could become a functional part of that park again," said Alex Turley of Preservation Memphis. "Pitching in is part of being a good neighborhood resident."

Turley, a senior associate at CB Richard Ellis who frequents Peabody Park with his two kids, joined cotton broker Kenny Jabbour and cotton futures trader Amy Ives to found Preservation Memphis, a nonprofit group that will restore Memphis landmarks for $15,000 or less.

"Our city is like any other city in the U.S., and they're cash-strapped," Jabbour said. "We thought we could look around for projects in Memphis that can be restored for $15,000 or less, things we can get done without spending a lot of time on them."

The group's initial focus is the pavilion's restoration, and they've already reached about $8,500 of their $11,000 goal. They hope to have all the funds raised by Labor Day.

The money will go toward replacing the pavilion's wooden floor and roof, followed by a fresh paint job.

"Over the years, it's just been painted to maintain and not for aesthetics. No one has gone in to pick out colors that will make it look striking," Jabbour said.

Currently, the pavilion is painted with earth tones of brown and beige, but Preservation Memphis will bring new life to the structure with a red roof and green columns and railings. Once completed, the group hopes local bands can make use of the pavilion as a stage for neighborhood concerts.

Mike Flowers, administrator of planning and development for the city's Park Services department, couldn't be more pleased with the group's initiative. He said the city hasn't had money in its budget to do any work on the pavilion in more than 10 years. When the park's playground equipment was updated in 2001, the city budget didn't allow for pavilion maintenance.

"We're tickled to death," Flowers said. "Their initiative is greatly appreciated by Park Services and the city as a whole."

Once the pavilion project is complete, Jabbour, Turley, and Ives will turn their focus to other moderately priced restoration projects.

"We wanted to get this under our belt first, and that will give us some momentum for other projects," Turley said. "Inherently, we're focused on the older parts of town, but there's no shortage of small projects."

Possible future projects include restoring the brick entry on McLean at Overton Park Avenue and repainting the bus stop seating in Overton Park near the Cooper and Poplar intersection, Turley said.

Donations to the pavilion's restoration may be mailed to Kenny Jabbour, 65 Union Ave. (Mezz. Floor), Memphis, TN 38103.

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