Last week, it was announced that the Zoo’s parking lot reconfiguration project was set to resume in 2022, after a two-year pause. We understand why this news came as a surprise to many people. The plan that is now set to move forward is the compromise solution that was agreed upon in 2018.
Phase 1 of that plan, the reconfiguration of the Zoo’s Prentiss Place lot, was implemented in 2019. Late that year, the City paused the project to explore the feasibility of erecting a parking deck atop the Prentiss lot rather than reconfiguring the Zoo’s main lot. This pause created some optimism that a solution involving no intrusion into the Greensward might be possible.
Unfortunately, as the City began working to develop a plan for the parking deck, initial costs came in above $5 million, with more expenses to follow. This is well above the $3 million estimated cost of the compromise plan–a cost the City had directed the Zoo and the Conservancy to split evenly, and one to which over 1,000 Conservancy donors contributed in 2017.
In the absence of funding for the deck, the City has initiated a return to the compromise plan. We will continue working with the City and the Zoo toward the ultimate goal of this project: a permanent end to parking on the Greensward.
For an interview with City of Memphis COO Doug McGowen about the decision to return to the 2018 plan, visit The Daily Memphian.
If you’re new to Memphis or just need a refresher on the events of the past few years, here’s a high-level timeline.