HOME

Subscribe

Board OKs East Memphis car wash, Downtown convenience store with fuel

By Published: January 24, 2019 4:00 AM CT

The Board of Adjustment unanimously approved on Wednesday, Jan. 23, plans for a car wash close to East Memphis houses, concluding that a business that works with neighbors to soften negative effects is better than the possibility of one that would not.

Among its other actions, the board also approved a convenience store/gas station on the southern edge of Downtown.

Board members expressed appreciation for the concessions Blue Water Wash Inc. made to neighbors along Century Street, including erecting a shadowbox-wood fence between residences and the car wash, establishing a small neighborhood park between the car wash and the nearest house, using all brick in the car wash building, closing the one curb cut on the residential street, and beefing up landscaping along the edges of the business.

The car wash will be at 3294 Poplar, at Century, which is a block east of East High School.

The new business will require the demolition of the existing Century Building, a 58-year-old midcentury modern structure used for offices.

Board member John Jackson III said he sympathizes with the nearby residents, 16 of whom hired a lawyer to help fight the redevelopment. “(But) I think you could do a lot worse," he said.

“The closing of that curb cut on Century is the real key for me to cast my vote ‘yes’ for this variance.”

Zoning laws permit a car wash at the corner. But Blue Water Wash needed an exception to erect the building 15 feet away from Century instead of the required minimum, 20 feet.

Several board members noted that other businesses with similar negative impacts also would have the right to build on the site, and they might not compromise as much with the neighborhood.

“If I had to pick a use, would this be best? Probably not,” board member Aaron Petree said. “Problem is, be careful what you wish for.”

Attorney Jonathan A. Lindsey of Martin, Tate, Morrow & Marston, who represented the homeowners, said his clients were concerned about the traffic and noise impact on their street.

“It’s akin to a gas station. It’s so severely impactful it should be prohibited by law," Lindsey told the board.

The city’s new long-range plan, Memphis 3.0, identifies Century as an anchor neighborhood with walkability and preservation goals, he said, adding, “A car wash would be inconsistent with the long-range development goals of the city.”

The Office of Planning & Development received nearly 30 messages of opposition.

Brenda Solomito Basar, the land-planning representative for the car wash applicant, told the board, “We feel we have successfully worked with neighbors to mitigate a lot of their concerns. A majority of what you see in compromises are at the request of the neighborhood.”

Downtown convenience store approved

The Board of Adjustment also approved a new convenience store with gas sales at a southern gateway to Downtown, the northwest corner of Crump and Florida.

Collierville-based San Investments 5 Inc. plans to demolish the existing, metal warehouse at 837 Florida and erect a 4,300-square-foot, brick convenience store with six fuel pumps and nine parking spaces between the store’s front and Crump.

Such a business is allowed by zoning, but the applicant sought three zoning exceptions: A narrower buffer of landscaping; a entry/exit on Florida that is less than 300 feet from the Crump intersection; and to have parking in front of the building.

Amelia Carkuff, who has lived in the neighborhood 19 years, opposed the development and asked that the board at least enforce the zoning rules.

“I consider myself the mayor of this part of Downtown,” she said of south Downtown just north of Crump. “… Development code is important to the city. It’s important to uphold this. It’s there for a reason.

“I admit a gas station is not my first choice in this emerging neighborhood. I prefer more mixed use," she added.

To make the area more walkable, she said, “We need those landscaping buffers to keep it walkable and friendly and not scary. Additionally, it is a gateway district. This is what people are seeing when they come into our city now. Redevelopment is emerging.”

The applicant requested that he be allowed to have landscaping buffers along Crump and Florida that are 10 feet deep, with 2-foot-high berms, instead of the required 25 feet deep.

Board member Jackson, a landscape architect, said he believes the business could have wider landscaping than 10 feet without affecting traffic flow on the site. Jackson’s amendment that the Office of Planning & Development staff study how much wider the landscaping can be was accepted by the rest of the board as well as the applicant.

<strong>The Board of Adjustment approved San Investments 5 Inc.'s plans to demolish a metal warehouse at Florida and Crump and erect a convenience store with six fuel pumps and nine parking places.</strong> (Tom Bailey/Daily Memphian)

The Board of Adjustment approved San Investments 5 Inc.'s plans to demolish a metal warehouse at Florida and Crump and erect a convenience store with six fuel pumps and nine parking places. (Tom Bailey/Daily Memphian)

<strong>Blue Water Wash's revised proposal for a East Memphis car wash on Poplar at Century was unanimously approved by the Board of Adjustment Wednesday, Jan. 23.&nbsp;</strong>(Blue Water Wash LLC)

Blue Water Wash's revised proposal for a East Memphis car wash on Poplar at Century was unanimously approved by the Board of Adjustment Wednesday, Jan. 23. (Blue Water Wash LLC)

Topics

Commercial Real Estate Planning And Development Board Of Adjustment
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.


Comment On This Story

Email Editions

Sign up for our morning and evening editions, plus breaking news.