Members of the Memphis City Council passed a resolution last week giving them approval over any proposed demolition at Overton Square.
The resolution, brought by council member Shea Flinn, requested that "the division of planning and development/construction code enforcement issue no permit for demolition in Overton Square without approval by the Memphis City Council."
"If someone wants to tear it down, they have to come forth and say why and talk about it with us," Flinn said. "It allows dialogue to happen, and a principle of smart growth is having community dialogue. ... We're looking for participation in the development of this historic district."
Overton Square, once a bustling entertainment district, includes several vacant retail spaces on the south side of Madison Avenue. Since exact plans for redevelopment of the square are unknown, members of Memphis Heritage are hoping for more dialogue with the developers, Associated Wholesale Grocers (AWG).
"It doesn't mean that they can't ever tear it down," West said of the resolution. "We are trying to create an environment where the owners and developers can both come to the table."
AWG was unavailable for comment.
"Because of where [the new development is] going to be and the history of this location and what it could be, the neighbors and stakeholders feel that it is very vital that they be included in the conversation," West said. "What this area is going to be and what's going to happen is important to us."