The Pigeon Roost Development Corporation
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The PRDC has played a role in the revitalization of the Lamar Avenue Corridor since 2001 working with neighborhood groups, the University of Memphis Department of City and Regional Planning and others.

The Pigeon Roost Development Corporation (PRDC) serves an area along the historic Pigeon Roost Road (now Lamar Avenue), including the neighborhoods along the way. This is a brief history of the area identifying historic locations and some of the citizens who have played a role in that history.

Pigeon Roost Road

Pigeon Roost Road was originally known as the Chickasaw Trace, a path used by the Chickasaw Indians traveling between the Mississippi River and the present-day location of Pontotoc, Mississippi and beyond.

Early settlers renamed the Trace as Pigeon Roost Road because it was the route used to travel to the Holly Springs area where thousands of passenger pigeons came to roost annually. Easy to kill they were soon extinct.

In 1828, the Shelby County Court was ordered to mark out a road in the direction of Love's settlement, a partially Europeanized Chickasaw Indian community, near Pontotoc. On October 22nd of that year, Pigeon Roost Road became an official street in the county.

In 1906 the name was changed to Lamar Ave. to honor L.Q.C. Lamar, a prominent statesman from Mississippi who was a strong proponent of reconciliation between the North and the South following the Civil War. He was appointed by Jefferson Davis as ambassador to Russia during the Civil War. After the war he served in the House and Senate, served as Secretary of the Interior in Grover Cleveland’s cabinet. He was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1888.

Solomon Rozelle

In 1830 Solomon Rozelle came to the area and acquired most of the surrounding property. He built a house and a rail station near the intersection of Pigeon Roost Road and the Memphis & Charleston Railroad. In 1874 his grandson donated some land nearby for the first Rozelle School. Farther west along the route, the Snowdens, Brinkleys and other prominent Memphians built mansions, several of which remain standing today. Rozelle’s property ultimately included most of the land between Union Avenue on the north, South Parkway on the south, Bellevue on the west and Hollywood on the east.

Memphis International Airport

Memphis started its fledgling aviation industry in 1927 when city Mayor Watkins Overton created a municipal Planning Commission. Among the Commission’s first official tasks choosing a site for the proposed airport. The Commission selected Ward Farm, 200-acre tract seven miles from Downtown, where the open countryside would allow for future growth. 

The Memphis Municipal Airport, consisting of three hangers and a sod field runway, was dedicated on June 14, 1929. The acreage was located on Hollyford Road which ran south from Lamar into Mississippi and included a small section near Lamar that was renamed Airways Boulevard. The rest of the road gradually took on the name, but as late as 1973 the portion south of Winchester was still called Hollyford Road. With the arrival of FedEx in 1973, the road all the way into Mississippi was known as Airways.

The Memphis International Airport has since become an economic engine powering Memphis and the surrounding community due to the presence of the FedEx Express hub. It has been one of the leading cargo airports in the world for decades and continues to serve as an economic center for the entire region known as “America’s Distribution Center.”

Aerotropolis

The term Aerotropolis was introduced by Dr. John Kasarda to describe a city that developed around an airport rather than a river or seaport. In 2006, he cited Memphis as a prime example of the phenomenon due to its dependence upon FedEx as an engine of commerce.
 
A steering committee was formed to identify both assets and deficiencies relating to the future development of the area surrounding Memphis International Airport. A consulting firm was hired to produce a master plan for redevelopment of the area. A fifty square mile area was designated as the area of concern with ten micro areas to be selected for more focused attention.

The proposal includes redevelopment of the 12,000 acres of underdeveloped land and the roadways leading to the area. It is predicted that many new jobs and businesses will be located there. The target area is located south of I-240, yet any development will affect the entire region. Including neighborhoods north of the I-240 corridor will benefit not only those areas but the greater community as well.



Bert Roddy

A well-known, innovative business-person, Bert M. Roddy founded the first African-American-owned grocery chain in Memphis, Citizen's Cooperative Stores in 1920. Born in Augusta, Arkansas, his family moved to Memphis when he was still a child. After graduating from LeMoyne Normal Institute, he asserted his entrepreneurial aptitude growing his chain of stores to 14 at the peak of the business's success. He employed several dozen people and a fleet of delivery trucks, but the stores met their demise due to the recession of the 1920s and increased market competition.

One of his stores was located at 1782 Lamar. It is now the intersection of Lamar and Walker where the street on the north side curves into Lamar near the North Annesdale subdivision.