NOT the way to attract people to Memphis

On Monday Oct. 22, the County Commission will vote on whether to approve and fund Memphised, part of the economic growth initiative for Memphis-Shelby County called Memphis Fast Forward.

Much of Memphised looks good at a quick glance, but the section on the riverfront and how to attract “knowledge based workers to Memphis” is clearly out-dated and based on false assumptions:

GOAL E: Make Memphis a “Place of Choice” for knowledge workers.
STRATEGY 13: Revitalize Memphis’ Downtown and Mississippi Riverfront
So far, so good, BUT
* Implementing Beale Street Landing with public funds over the next two years
* Resolving Promenade legal issues
* Contracting with private developers to implement existing Promenade Plan beginning 2010

There are lots of things that could and do attract people to Memphis, but using eminent domain to turn the only remaining four blocks of public land on the riverbluff over to private developers for high-rises is certainly not one of them. And spending $29.4 million on a new commercial boat dock that the TN Historical Commission has ruled will have an adverse effect on our city’s history, doesn’t really seem like it will be a big draw, either.

Successful cities today are taking a totally different approach. Chicago Mayor Daley says that he looked as his city, and he saw people moving away, businesses going elsewhere, and he saw neglected parks, libraries, and schools. He said he didn't know which came first, but he set about changing that picture. To read his remarks on how he made Chicago a booming, livable, city of choice click here.
To learn more about the economic benefits of Millenium Park on the loop area of Chicago, click here.

In a recent article, Jon Weinbach writing for The Wall Street Journal called parks the new status symbol for American cities, “ not a soaring office tower or retro stadium .... Developers who once fought with conservationists are now pushing the idea, after discovering that successful parks -- such as Manhattan's Bryant Park and Atlanta's Piedmont Park -- can dramatically increase property values." Click here to read more.

Memphised was prepared by Atlanta-based Market Street Services, Inc. to serve as the economic development component of Memphis Fast Forward. In creating the plan, Market Street Services used “existing plans and strategies ... to avoid re-inventing the wheel.” The section on how to improve downtown and the riverfront, definitely needed a careful review of the current RDC plan and some new analysis, instead.

We have scanned and posted a full copy of the plan for you to review in the Library.