Tommy Pacello in 2016. File photo: Andrew J. Breig
What’s happening: Memphis’ Calvary Episcopal Church was awarded $15,000 from the Tommy Pacello Placemaking Fellowship earlier this month, one of five organizations to receive cash awards for placemaking projects as part of this inaugural cohort. Organizations in Miami; Provo, Utah; Cincinnati; and Flint, Michigan, round out the group of recipients.
Why they won: Calvary plans to use the $15,000 in support of a placemaking project that will remove asphalt from a side parking lot to build a temporary park and gathering space. The historic church is planning a series of renovations to make the building and property more welcoming and accessible. The park and gathering space project must be completed by the end of 2024 per the terms of the award.
What they’re saying: “It's a gift, not only to receive Pacelloship resources for a project in our friend Tommy's memory, but to know that turning one more bad patch of downtown asphalt (our staff parking lot) into a vibrant place for people would have brought the wide, irrepressible grin we miss so much to Tommy's face,” says the Rev. Scott Walters, rector of Calvary Episcopal Church.
Background: When Tommy Pacello passed away from complications from pancreatic cancer in November 2020, his death sent shockwaves throughout Memphis. At just 43 years old, the late city planner and civic leader accomplished a lot in his short time here, with tributes pouring in from the Memphis Business Journal, Commercial Appeal, Daily Memphian, and elsewhere. Congressman Steve Cohen even honored Pacello’s legacy with an address to the U.S. House of Representatives. President of the Memphis Medical District Collaborative, Pacello is credited with making the district a more walkable place, and ushered in 36 new businesses in the Medical District in just six years’ time.
What it is: The Tommy Pacello Placemaking Fellowship fund awards cash prizes to individuals and teams working on design projects and public realm improvements throughout the city and nationwide. Recipients will also receive technical assistance and professional guidance in the sectors of law, project design and management, communications and stakeholder engagement, and fundraising. Awards vary by size and number as determined by the committee, which consists of Pacello’s friends and colleagues.
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