03 August 2010

An Open Letter to Memphis City Council

Dear Council Members,

I am writing today to express my concern with yet another out-of-town company attempting to come to Memphis and destroy a piece of our history and part of Midtown's beauty. Too many of our historic places have been torn down over the years to provide space for the likes of Arby's, Walgreen's and Starbucks.

When I first moved to Memphis in 1986 I met two sisters who'd lived on Carr Avenue for most of their lives. Norma and Audrey used to tell me stories of a beautiful Union Avenue lined with grand southern mansions, churches and the occasional block of retail space like the one that houses Wiles-Smith Drugstore. More than twenty years later, I still hear laments from native Memphians about wonderful places that used to be as I've watched Midtown's charm eroded bit by bit.

On August 24th, representatives of CVS Pharmacy are expected to stand before you in an attempt to appeal the Land Use Control Board's ruling denying them permission to raze Union Avenue Methodist Church. I am asking that you uphold the board's ruling.

Midtown has more than enough drug stores within reach of that site, particularly with an Ike's/Walgreen's across the street. If CVS is determined to come into the Midtown Memphis market, let's encourage them to choose another location where their architecturally uninteresting, cookie-cutter, big-box eyesore might be a vast improvement.

In the Crosstown area, for instance, North of Poplar on the west side of Cleveland, there are many defunct, vacant, weed-infested spaces that provide no particular interest to the landscape of the city. I believe a CVS could do wonders there. Many other places in Midtown could benefit from the commerce their store might bring. Union at Cooper isn't one of them, especially at the cost of another Memphis landmark.



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