Jump to content


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.


Memphis' Henry Turley interview

Recommended Posts


New days, ways

After decades of rebuilding cities to accommodate automobiles, New Urbanists realize that people, not cars, are the most important part of a neighborhood

May 1, 2005

Memphis developer Henry Turley has been the point man in Memphis for a new way of looking at urban development since the 1980s, when he pioneered conversion of downtown buildings into residential space and built two planned communities, South Bluffs and Harbor Town.

Turley's projects, the kind of development touted as a cure for many of the ills of urban sprawl, were in the spotlight last week during a seminar for architects and urban planners in Memphis sponsored by the local architectural firm Looney Ricks Kiss and the Seaside Institute.


He answered questions about his work in an e-mail exchange with The Commercial Appeal:

Q: What is New Urbanism?

A: New Urbanism is our latest and best method of designing cities so that they are pleasant places to live even as they attract more and more automobiles. Harbor Town is arguably the country's most complete example of New Urbanism.

Remember that in the last century we spent most of our urban design energies adjusting our cities to accommodate cars. We built wide paved streets, gas stations, parking lots, expressways and drive-ins for almost every purpose.

We became so focused on building for our cars that we almost forgot about the people. Just look at your home. Your car's entrance, the driveway, takes up a lot of your yard and your car has become an overnight guest -- occupying probably the biggest room in the house. And cars also have nice spots at your workplace, your grocery and even your church.

New Urbanists realize that people, not cars, are the most important part of a neighborhood. Go visit Harbor Town. Its school, its day care, grocery, streets, parks and homes are all about the people who live there; cars are secondary.

Q: What can New Urbanism do for Memphis?

A: It makes better neighborhoods, and good neighborhoods make a better city.

Q: What can't it do for Memphis?

A: New Urbanism cannot correct the paradox of urban economics. In the city you pay more to get less. Remember, people live where their children will be safe and attend a good school -- both for the best price.

But don't underestimate the power of good neighbors working together in a good neighborhood. Together they can solve problems that seem overwhelming.

Q: How is Uptown different from Harbor Town?

A: Harbor Town was our answer to the question we posed to ourselves: "Can we build a better place to live Downtown?"

Uptown is our response to: "Can we do the same thing even if some of the residents have low incomes?"

Q: What are the short- and long-term prospects for Uptown?

A: Uptown in the short term offers the excitement of a new idea -- the opportunity for very diverse people to build a neighborhood together. Over the long term, those neighbors will join to work on the problems they confront. The alternative is to run from those problems.

Q: What has to happen for the Memphis urban core -- Memphis inside the parkways -- to survive and thrive?

A: As we said in the '60s, "Keep the faith." Our boldest hopes and our dreams are realized in the city.

Q: Why do the suburbs need a strong, healthy, thriving Memphis?

Their very name, which starts with "sub," makes it pretty obvious.

Q: What are your hopes and concerns for Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton's push for a Memphis/Shelby County Unified Development Code, and for Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton's push for a consolidated government?

A: Both Mayor Herenton and Mayor Wharton see more clearly than most of us that we are inextricably linked or consolidated already. To deny that is simply wrong; to fight it, rather than fight our shared problems, is a terrible waste of civic energy.

Q: What are your greatest hopes and fears for Memphis?

A: I hope we get about working together on building the city we want with great optimism. I'm too old to be afraid.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

yea, isn't that on mud island?


Yes it is.

It's a strange form of "New Urbanism" basically because it was built on an uninhabited island in the middle of the Mississippi River, cut off from the rest of the city. It doesn't really "connect' well with the rest of downtown, but that's ok since it physically would be impossible.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.