Historic Melrose Excessive Faculty: Memphis officers define the redevelopment

Plans for a $ 10 million facelift for the historic Melrose High School in Orange Mound are still in their infancy, but city officials and architects announced further details of the planned redevelopment of the long-vacant building in a Zoom meeting Thursday .

Over the next two years, the building will be converted into a library and genealogy center with senior housing on the upper floors.

Paul Young, director of the city’s housing and community development department, said the redevelopment would breathe life into one of the key institutions in one of Memphis’ most famous neighborhoods.

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Paul Young, director of housing and community development for Memphis, poses for a portrait in front of the Coliseum in November 2017.

“Orange Mound is one of the most culturally rich communities in the country, and we want to make sure we keep that story alive for future generations,” he said.

The first Black High School in Memphis, the current Melrose High School building at 843 Dallas Street, was built in 1938, closed in 1981, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001. One point put money aside to tear it down, but after withdrawn after a recoil from residents of Orange Mound, Young said.

He said much of the existing building will be retained. Some interior walls can be removed, but most of the structure will be salvaged and renovated.

Jimmie Tucker of Self + Tucker Architects of Memphis said maintaining the beloved building was a key component of the redevelopment, but the updates would also make the building more sustainable and energy efficient.

A rendering shows what the genealogy center of the newly developed Melrose High School might look like.

The library, the genealogy center and a café will be housed on the ground floor, while the second and third floors each have 14 apartments with a total area of ​​around 700 square meters for senior citizens. The second floor will have a leasing office and outdoor deck, and the third floor will have a movie room and fitness center, Tucker said.

Extensive hallways are designed to encourage interaction between residents and visitors, and glass walls on the first floor “create visual connections” between rooms, he said.

Young said rents for the apartments had not yet been set but added, “It will be affordable for seniors.” He said the goal is for seniors in Orange Mound who no longer want or can no longer maintain single-family homes to move to a place that requires less maintenance without leaving their neighborhood.

“It always happened in Melrose”

The historian of Orange Mound, Mary Mitchell, described the road to the renovation of the school as a “jubilee trip”. Local residents and Melrose alumni were delighted that their history was preserved and used for future generations.

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Mary Mitchell poses for a portrait at the Orange Mound Gallery (OMG) in Memphis, Tennessee on Tuesday, January 19, 2021.

“It’s very important to know that everything that ever happened happened in Orange Mound, and it always happened in Melrose,” she said.

Keenon McCloy, director of Memphis Public Libraries, said the neighborhood’s rich history made the building the right place for a library and genealogy center.

“It is a place where generations of students have gained the knowledge and wisdom to transform Memphis,” she said.

Young said the city envisioned the high school area as one encompassing space, and the library and apartments would be integrated with the surrounding senior center, community center, and Christ Community Health Center site.

Floor plans for the proposed changes to Melrose High School show 14 apartments, a fitness center and a movie room.

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He acknowledged that parking in the area could be an issue and would be worked out at a later date.

The redevelopment of the historic building is part of Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland’s $ 200 million plan to “Accelerate Memphis: Invest in Neighborhoods,” which includes repairing streets and sidewalks, replacing bus stops, and creating public WiFi spots as well a new Gaisman Community Center and a greenway provides expansions and a facelift for the Mud Island Amphitheater, among other projects.

“This will help restore the momentum we felt before the pandemic and accelerate our growth by improving the quality of life, promoting equity and inclusion, improving housing and connectivity, and solving stubborn, big problems that are deeper and greater are more expensive than solve any annual budget, “said the mayor on Thursday.

City officials expect to lay the foundation stone early next year and complete the project by the end of 2023.

Corinne S Kennedy covers economic development, football and the impact of COVID-19 on hospitals for The Commercial Appeal. She can be reached by email at [email protected] or at 901-297-3245.

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