VECA street fair highlights emerging commercial district

On June 10, neighbors, friends and the community-at-large came together at the intersection of Jackson and Evergreen to learn more about this potential commercial district at the inaugural VECA Street Faire.

An effort pulled together by the Vollintine Evergreen board and more specifically the VECA Historic Committee, the focus of this event was for people to think big about this overlooked and underutilized intersection and enjoy the day’s activities.

The event included BLDG Memphis’ Mobile Front Porch where people participated in a community perception survey and information stations for brainstorming and discussions about the area’s potential redevelopment.

The survey primarily addressed perceptions of the intersection’s livability, commerce, repairs, convenience and beauty. It also asked participants what three big goals and three small improvements they’d like to see take place. Lastly, it asked what three uses neighbors would like to have in the District. Some common answers included more green spaces, a bank or a new restaurant.

The VECA Street Faire brought people together to enjoy live music, classic cars and food trucks and also imagine what’s possible in an emerging area of North Memphis.
New branding draws attention to the potential of the Jackson and Evergreen intersection.“The Faire is part of a project that engages businesses and community residents in imagining a thriving Evergreen Jackson commercial district, including: desired new uses for vacant and underutilized properties, exterior building and site improvements, crosswalks and streetscape improvements,” said co-organizer Andy Kitsinger.

Currently the intersection is made up of a Mapco gas station, King’s Grocery & Deli, a former BP gas station site, Family Dollar and St. Therese Little Flower Catholic Church and School. There are also several empty lots and store fronts that have a lot of potential.

VECA is bounded on the west by Watkins Street, on the north by Cypress Creek, on the east by Trezevant Street and the south by Overton Park. According to several neighbors, it is in dire need of some new retail and restaurant options.

Attendees were encouraged to get involved with the Clean & Green Initiative, a committee of the VECA board focused on fighting blight, rehabbing properties and beautifying the area.

Guests also learned a great deal about the makeup of the neighborhood including its boundaries, history and architecture.

Next steps are for organizers and the board to review the survey results and come up with a game plan for moving forward.

Read more articles by Jeff Hulett.

Originally from Chicago, Jeff moved to Memphis in 1990 not really knowing much about the south. In fact, the first week he lived here he was suspended from school for not saying, "yes ma'am" and "no ma'am." Jeff has since developed a passion for Memphis and especially Memphis music. A member of several bands including Snowglobe and Me & Leah, Jeff works as a communications consultant with many non-profits including Playback Memphis, Church Health, Room in the Inn-Memphis and BLDG Memphis. Jeff lives in the Vollintine Evergreen neighborhood with his wife and two daughters.