U of M taking action against illegal parking near campus

Private dorm, ThirtySix01, wins approval despite parking woes

By Published: March 05, 2019 5:32 PM CT

The University of Memphis lost its battle to block construction of yet another private dorm near campus, but now has a plan to win the war against the illegal parking that such development can worsen.

Work can start on the 215-bed ThirtySix01 at 3601 Midland following the Board of Adjustment’s approval on Thursday, Feb. 28, to grant the developer two minor zoning variances.

The board voted 5-0 in favor of developer Pinnacle Development Group despite opposition from both the U of M and the University Neighborhoods Development Corp.

ThirtySix01 meets parking regulations by providing one-half of an on-site parking space for each bed. Still, the development potentially will generate another 108 vehicles for street parking if each of the 215 residents has a car.

Cody Fletcher, speaking for the U of M and as University District development officer, objected to ThirtySix01. The dorm is to rise where the now-vacant Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house stands.

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Fletcher told the board the five-story dorm would intensify parking demand on streets where students’ illegal parking already is degrading the quality of life and making it difficult for both firetrucks and drivers to maneuver.

Fletcher described the troubled area as a relatively small section involving a few blocks of Mynders, Brister, Midland and Patterson.

The U of M does not plan to appeal the Board of Adjustment’s action to the Chancery Court.

But the university will forge ahead with an action plan it created over the past month with the University Neighborhoods Development Corp. to alleviate the parking troubles.

 The U of M and UNDC plan to:  

  • Obtain a mutual-assistance agreement between U of M police and Memphis Police so U of M officers can write parking tickets on city streets. Now, the university must request MPD officers to come write parking tickets.
  • Persuade the city to force any future dorms to provide more on-site parking. Now, dorms must provide a half-space per bed. The university will advocate to raise that to three-fourths of a space per bed. For example, the change would have required ThirtySix01 to provide 161 parking spaces in its ground floor parking structure for its 215 beds instead of 108.
  • Spread the news that the U of M student government association is passing a resolution supporting increasing the required parking space-to-bed ratio to 0.75. “Students recognize this as a problem,” Fletcher said.
  • Explore with the Memphis Fire Department a plan to create fire lanes outside the private developments.
  • Improve the quality and quantity of the “No Parking” signs on the streets.
  • Pursue the use of more street paint to designate “no parking” areas.
  • Explore the possibility of leasing university parking spaces to private developers.

“Those are the things we’re working on proactively to address these issues,” Fletcher told the Board of Adjustment.

The problem could get worse, he said, adding the university is aware of plans for three to six more privately developed dorms.

While the U of M and UNDC are pro-development, they will continue to oppose any proposed dorms that do not provide at least the current, half-space of on-site parking per bed, Fletcher said.

If a proposal meets the parking ratio but needs a zoning variance for some other issue, the university and UNDC will oppose the variance if the project contributes to the parking problems in the Midland, Mynders, and Brister areas, Fletcher said.


University Of Memphis Planning And Development
Tom Bailey

Tom Bailey

Tom Bailey covers business news for The Daily Memphian. A Tupelo, Mississippi, native, he graduated from Mississippi State University. He's worked in journalism for 40 years and has lived in Midtown for 36 years.

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