COMMERCIAL APPEAL | Wayne Risher
Peabody Place is okay for cars, but not so hot for pedestrians and bicyclists.
A city-led demonstration project will try to change that starting June 26.
For less than $200,000, mostly from private contributions, the city will create an east-west cycling and pedestrian connection from the riverfront to east of FedExForum.
A stretch of Peabody Place from Front to Fourth will be transformed with protected bicycle lanes and pedestrian plazas with public art, pop-up vendors and sidewalk dining.
A few street parking spaces will be lost, says Memphis bikeway and pedestrian manager Nicholas Oyler, but the result will be a “much safer street.”
Peabody Place was designed to suburban specifications to serve its namesake retail and entertainment mall, Oyler said. The mall is being converted to ServiceMaster corporate headquarters.
The city has teamed up with the UrbanArt Commission and others to add vibrancy to the street, particularly to the blocks between Front and Second. Plans call for parallel street parking that protects bike lanes from traffic.
Lauren Kennedy, executive director, said the UrbanArt Commission is overseeing plans for murals and portable kiosks where artists and others can sell their work.
The project will follow a circuitous path from Riverside Drive along Front, Peabody Place and Fourth to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, skirting around the Beale Street entertainment district.
Along with plans for bike lanes on MLK boulevard, it will meet a need for a well-designed cycling route between Downtown and Midtown, Oyler said.
The project will launch in conjunction with a national conference of the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycling Professionals in Memphis. Other project contributors and partners include Hyde Family Foundations, Looney Ricks Kiss architects, DCA (Doug Carpenter + Associates) and IKEA.