Planning staff recommends against 'Fred Jones Lane' based on policy, not contributions

By Published: June 11, 2019 5:29 PM CT

Fred Jones Jr. has requested that the city rename a section of St. Paul Avenue to “Fred Jones Lane” as the annual event he founded, Southern Heritage Classic, nears its 30th anniversary.

But the Office of Planning & Development is recommending that the planning board reject the request not because of Jones’ contributions but because of public policy.

The nearly half-mile segment at issue runs from South Lauderdale on the west to Walnut on the east. The section goes through new Cleaborn Pointe at Heritage Landing apartments on the west end.

The name change would “honor the accomplishments of Mr. Fred Jones and his contributions to the city of Memphis,” states the letter of intent to the Land Use Control Board.

The board is to review the application at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in City Hall.

“Mr. Jones was born and raised in the area and attended Alonzo Locke Elementary, Booker T. Washington High School, and Memphis State University (University of Memphis),” the letter of intent states.

“He remains a dedicated resident of the South Memphis Community of French Fort, and a vital part of the historic context of Memphis at this Bicentennial year of its founding,” the letter states.

But the city/county planning staff, in its report, states that the request follows neither the “Street Naming Guide for Memphis and Shelby County, Tennessee” nor the City Council’s policies for honorary street names.

Applicable parts of the street-naming guide state:

“Street names should not use the first and last name of a person nor should they use two proper names. Example: Marilyn Monroe Avenue is unacceptable; Marilyn Avenue or Monroe Avenue is okay. Mary Elizabeth Lane is unacceptable.”

The planning staff also cited from the guide: “The continuity of a single street name should be maintained throughout the entire length of a street to the fullest practical extent even if the street changes alignment.”

The City Council’s rules of procedure state: “… A regular street name change may occur only if a person is deceased.”

However, there are examples of streets with first and last names, such as Elvis Presley Boulevard, Daryl Lewis wrote in Tuesday an email to The Daily Memphian. Lewis is principal broker with Infinity Group Realtors and represented Jones in the application process. 

"... How was a portion of S. Lauderdale... renamed Willie Mitchell Blvd., or Highway 51 renamed Elvis Presley Blvd. (please note first and last names given) while they were still living," Lewis wrote.

The staff report also states that the St. Paul Avenue Historic District, which extends from Boyd to Walnut, would be affected by the name change.

Residents living along St. Paul will have to change their address on their personal identification, the report states. And not renaming the St. Paul segment running from South Lauderdale to Suzette could cause confusion for responses by fire and police departments.

The staff report states that several options were presented and rejected by Jones’ representative during a Technical Review Committee meeting.

One option was for Jones to pursue an honorary street name change by the City Council.

“The applicant’s representative indicated this was not desirable since an honorary street name change could be changed,” the staff report states.

Another suggestion was to rename one of the streets around the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium and Fairgrounds, where the Southern Heritage Classic football game is played. For example, one of the existing names that could be changed is “Home Run.”

However, the report states, “The applicant’s representative said his client wanted this particular section of South Memphis renamed in his honor since he was a former resident of Cleaborn and walked this route.”

The Southern Heritage Classic is an annual rivalry football game between Jackson State and Tennessee State universities. More than 45,000 people attended the four most recent games. The 1997 game drew 61,171. This year’s game will be Sept. 14.

Since it was founded in 1990, Jones has expanded the event to become the Southern Heritage Classic Cultural Festival, including a golf tournament, fashion show, tailgating, battle of the bands and more.

One letter of opposition was filed with the planning board. Beverly Lacey wrote that she lives on St. Paul and the street “has its own established history and heritage. Much of this history beginning as early as 1890.

“… My family’s legacy and heritage is on St. Paul Ave as there has always been a family member continuously at this location … since 1947,” Lacey wrote.


Planning And Development Southern Heritage Classic Fred Jones Jr
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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