A city’s green space matters. No matter how small, how tucked away, how hidden even. Downtown Memphis has gained a vibrant — if small and tucked away — new patch of free space on a lot that most recently occupied a long-abandoned fast-food joint. (For the health-minded, this is a two-for-the-price-of-one.)
Madison Avenue Park (MAP) will open to the public this Friday with a daylong celebration. The park is directly across the street from the Brass Door (152 Madison Avenue), and this is no coincidence. The person behind the park’s development — lifelong Memphian Scott Crosby — is a part owner of the pub.
“There’s an Irish proverb,” says Crosby. “Being early and being wrong can often feel like the same thing. We purchased the Brass Door in 2010, during the deepest part of the recession. We were early to this district, and we felt wrong for a long time. But since then, look at everything that’s come along: the University of Memphis Law School, Visible Music College, renovations to the Madison Hotel and the First Tennessee building, the new Hotel Napoleon. The city’s original financial district is beating stronger than ever.”
Crosby collaborated with the PARC Foundation, a nonprofit founded by artist David Deutsch, dedicated to “strengthening communities by serving as a catalyst for the development and promotion of contemporary art and architecture.” The PARC Foundation and Davies Toews Architecture co-designed the space, and Montgomery Martin was the general contractor.
The multilevel park includes a small performance stage and a gallery space underneath the upper slope. Views of the Peabody and world-famous Rendezvous restaurant bring new, quite iconic, sights to pedestrians along Madison Avenue.
“I’ve worked in downtown Memphis for 20 years,” says Crosby. “I’ve always been fascinated with ‘third places.’ Where do people live when they’re not at work and they’re not at home? To some degree, that was what creating the Brass Door was about, and it worked. When [this lot] became available, we knew we could do something great with it too.”
Here’s Friday’s schedule of events (rain or shine):
9 a.m. — Downtown Yoga
10 a.m. — Visible Music College
11 a.m. — Tennessee Shakespeare Company
11 a.m. — Sache T-Shirt Truck
11 a.m. to 2 p.m. — MemPops and Food Trucks
12 p.m. — Charveymac
1 p.m. — Memphis Symphony Orchestra Star Wars preview
2 p.m. — Opera Memphis
3 p.m. — Hattiloo Theatre
4 p.m. — ribbon-cutting ceremony
5 p.m. to 7 p.m. — Happy Hour with MemPops and Food Trucks
5:30 p.m. — Kaleidoscope
8 p.m. — Indie Memphis Local Music Video Block