Friday, January 05, 2007

From: The Gates of Memphis

A Letter to Target

proposed site of Target, Poplar and Watkins, Memphis
Robert J. Ulrich
Chairman of the Board and
Chief Executive Officer
Target Corporation

Dear Mr. Ulrich,

Memphis has recently learned that we're to get a new Target store in the area of Memphis called Crosstown. There's been much discussion as to whether Target would choose a suburban design -- a box warehouse surrounded by asphalt parking lot -- for this location. I'm writing you to ask that Target build a store that will embody, in your aisles and in our streets, your corporate emphasis on great design and is mindful of the urban setting you have chosen for your store.
Madison Avenue trolley line, 2 blocks from proposed Target
Sacred Heart Church, 2 blocks from proposed Target
cottage directly across from proposed Target
Crosstown is a section of Memphis that was originally an early 20th century trolley suburb, full of bungalows, shotgun houses and 2-story family homes and small-scale commercial buildings (I've enclosed photos of some nearby examples). However the area had declined substantially from the 1960s, when a urban freeway sliced through its heart, demolishing many of these structures, and another planned (but never completed) freeway resulted in the demolition of many more. Businesses closed. Cheaply made apartment buildings replaced houses. Neighborhoods not destroyed began a long decline. Where you plan on building your new store is one of those neighborhoods.
home, 2 blocks from proposed Target
2 homes, 1 block from proposed Target
Memphis has only recently stopped this decline. A big part of the comeback has been the infill of homes in the area where the unbuilt freeway demolished homes. At the insistence of community leaders, the rebuilt homes were built to the aesthetic standards of the neighboring undemolished homes. The scars left by the unbuilt freeway have healed thanks largely to the design quality of these rebuilt homes. Other factors are the diverse community who have settled and stayed in that area, and a new downtown to Crosstown trolley system that Memphis added whose terminal is just 2 blocks from your proposed site.
Buddhist association, 1/2 block from proposed Target
bungalow directly behind proposed Target
I speak for no one but myself, but I nevertheless ask that as you design the new store, you consider how you can help further transform and revitalize Crosstown Memphis (as well as attract customers) through beautiful, affordable and place-conscious design. Just as Target transformed itself by growing through design, you can help do the same with this area of Memphis. I hope that you will consider my request.


The Gates of Memphis

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