City Councilman Tom Marshall wants to set the record straight about a couple of things.
First, he is against adding another layer of design review for downtown buildings and no fan of design review at all, for that matter.
Second, he has no conflict of interest involving homebuilder Kevin Hyneman, contrary to the impression left by a story Sunday in The Commercial Appeal.
My feeling is design review is design censorship, said Marshall, who is an architect. Architects and builders need to follow bulk regulations on scale, setback, greenspace ratios, and things like that, but design review needs to take a broad brush.
The issue has come up in connection with possible future development on Mud Island near Mud Island River Park, which is under the control of the Riverfront Development Corporation. Hynemans company owns roughly 20 acres west of The Pyramid and has proposed putting suburban-style houses on it. The RDC wants something grander.
The CA story said Marshall made sure the property was exempted from design guidelines and noted that Marshalls firm has worked for Hyneman.
I never even talked to Hyneman about this, said Marshall, who saw the story when he came back from vacation. But the newspaper inferred that there is some conflict on my part. I designed an office building (Quail Hollow Office Building) for Hyneman and some other owners two years ago, but there is no business relationship between me and Hyneman now. Frankly it is one of the best looking office buildings in Memphis.
Marshall said downtown building plans are already reviewed by the Office of Planning and Development, the Land Use Control Board, the City Council, the Center City Commission, and in some instances the Landmarks Commission.
What if one says one thing and another group says something else? he says. The owner is screwed. We celebrate our environment, especially something as eclectic as Midtown, by allowing a variety of design.