A view of The Pinch District from the south
City officials and developers won more time to plan for the future of The Pinch District Tuesday, as the Memphis City Council voted to extend a moratorium on issuing building permits in the area for another 90 days.
A moratorium on issuing permits in the historic but strained neighborhood expired Tuesday. That moratorium was requested by city council member Berlin Boyd, who caught heat from the move, as he noted at the time that a major Memphis entity was behind the request but wouldn’t divulge its name.
Boyd also requested the new moratorium and fought for it in a passionate speech before the council Tuesday.
This time, Boyd pleaded for the moratorium to allow him and an ad hoc committee of Pinch stakeholders to complete work on a new master plan for the area. That committee includes Richard Shadyac, CEO of American Syrian Lebanese Associated Charities (ALSAC), the fundraising organization for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital; Jack Sammons, the city’s chief administrative officer; Paul Morris, president of the Downtown Memphis Commission; Tanja Mitchell, coordinator for Uptown Memphis, and others.
Boyd said city leaders selected a plan from local architecture firm Looney Ricks Kiss (LRK). The city had once hired LRK as a consultant on Pinch planning, but their plan was ultimately shelved. Boyd said the city will move forward with that plan because it is the most recent and “it fits the model of what everyone wants.”
“We dusted a plan off, and we have an idea, and now we have to get [city officials], St. Jude, and Bass Pro at the table to say, ‘Hey this is what we see, and this is what we want,’” Boyd said. “Then we can move forward from that standpoint as to what the city’s position will be on narrowing down a real, defined purpose.”
To read the tea leaves a bit on Boyd’s undisclosed Pinch stakeholder:
ALSAC/St. Jude is undoubtedly the largest stakeholder in the Pinch. And something — something big — is undoubtedly in the works for the already massive organizations and their massive campus.
Shadyac told the ad hoc committee last month that they are working on a plan for a major investment in the area, an investment that could include more employees and capital investment here. In mid-October, Shadyac met with Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam. Though the particulars of the project were not divulged, Haslam said ALSAC/St. Jude asked for the state’s help to get the project underway.
With all that in mind, it is likely that Boyd is hoping to buy ALSAC/St. Jude some time on their project before any work begins on the Pinch.