New townhouses and apartments could soon fill two vacant lots near East Parkway and Sam Cooper after a Thursday vote by the city’s landmarks commission.
The Memphis Landmarks Commission voted unanimously in favor of the near seven-acre Overton Gateway project, proposed by real estate company Makowsky Ringel Greenberg LLC.
Overton Gateway North is slated to span two acres over the northeast corner of Sam Cooper and East Parkway, while to the south of Sam Cooper, adjacent to East Parkway, Overton Gateway South is to cover about five acres.
The northern part of the project will be a three-story apartment complex with 54 units and 66 parking spots.
Overton Gateway South is planned to consist of thirteen small two- and three-story buildings, housing about 122 townhome and apartment units. There would also be 167 parking spots.
These plans were unanimously approved by the Memphis City Council in July after MRG compromised on the height of the buildings and number of off-street parking spots.
Originally, MRG planned for the building to be five stories, but received pushback from members of the surrounding neighborhood who thought the buildings would be uncharacteristically tall for the Lea’s Woods Historic District.
Residents said Thursday the project still has characteristics that don’t match the district and asked the commission not to make an exception to the standard for Overton Gateway because it’s a planned development.
Letters of opposition ahead of the meeting cited examples of “deviations” from the neighborhood’s guidelines, such as the proposed storefront-style windows and roofs with accent metal, as well as the foundation height and the overall “institutional feeling” of a three-story building.
However, a representative from Fleming Architect, one group working with MRG on the project, told the commission and meeting attendees that they are willing to compromise on roof and building materials, as well as the elevation of the buildings.
In a opposition letter, Casey Hyneman, a resident of Lea’s Wood also questioned the sustainability of an apartment complex at that intersection, pointing out the handful of existing apartment complexes in close proximity that are condemned or abandoned.
He also said that with the addition of Overton Gateway, the neighborhood would consists of 60 percent rental properties — compared to 20 percent now.
According to Realtor.com, he wrote, a high-renter concentration lowers the value of surrounding properties in the neighborhood by nearly 14 percent.