Today, the selection committee seeking ideas for new uses for the Brooks Museum buildings and Memphis College of Art’s Rust Hall announced ten finalists. You can read about the finalists here. Each organization will be asked to respond to a more detailed request for proposals from the City of Memphis.
Overton Park Conservancy is listed as one of the finalists, with a proposal to develop a visitor center for the park. We submitted this proposal to potentially partner with another organization or group of organizations, if the opportunity arose, to use part of one building for a park visitor center. Our proposal is intended to be a partnership with another organization rather than a full assumption of management of either building.
In phase one of our master plan community engagement, a visitor center was one of the most consistently requested amenities that park stakeholders wished to see added. Park visitors told us they would like a place to find out more information about amenities and events, to take care of pavilion rental transactions in person, to donate and buy Conservancy-branded merchandise, to have indoor meeting space and restrooms, and to purchase snacks and beverages.
Because we don’t currently have a use for the more than 80,000 square feet offered in either building, a partnership would allow us to have a practical in-park location to greet our visitors. We could envision a synergistic relationship with our partners leading to collaborative programming and other benefits.
If neither of the new primary tenants selected for those buildings finds such a partnership beneficial, then we can continue to explore the possibility of a park visitor center in the General Services area in the southeast corner of the park, as we work through the park-wide master plan.
Currently, the City plans to announce the final tenant selection in early 2020.