Renovate/Restore/Revitalize Downtown

Commercial Appeal photographer Mike Brown points out the need to renovate/restore/revitalize our historic downtown “before we move on to the next bigger and better thing.”
Brown does not refer to the RDC plan, which would take public land for private development and build a whole new downtown along the riverfront, but the issue is the same -- smart growth? As Jack Belz said to the City Council in 2004, we already have enough unused space downtown to meet the demand for the next 50 years. Click here to take a look at the economics.

Here are Mr. Brown’s comments, which ran with his photograph in the Sunday Commercial Appeal's weekly pictorial "1,000 Words" Oct. 14, 2007.
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Thank you, Commissioner Mulroy!

Thanks to the leadership of Commissioner Steve Mulroy, County money will not support

* funding for Beale Street Landing,

* legal action on the Public Promenade, or

* contracting with private developers to implement the existing RDC Promenade Plan.

The County Commission voted on Oct. 22 to remove their funding support from this and eight other sections of the economic development plan MEMPHISED. The contract is being re-drafted to reflect this decision and will be voted on at the next County Commission meeting, Nov. 5 at 1:30 p.m. at the County Building (160 N. Main.)

To read more about this issue, click here.

To access the entire economic development plan, click here.

New York Times takes a look at 4 public spaces with Fred Kent

Fred Kent, the founder and president of the Project for Public Spaces, recently took a look at four New York spaces with Elizabeth Giddens of The New York Times. Mr. Kent gave her his ideas on why some work and some don't. For those of you who were able to attend the “placemaking” workshop Mr. Kent led on the Memphis riverfront in March, it’s a reminder of several of the basic principles we learned. And for all of us, it’s a quick summary of a few essential elements that help make great public places.
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Great idea - More art for downtown and the riverfront

Arts in the Park has a new name and new location -- downtown on South Main. Starts at 6 pm Friday and runs all weekend. Click here for details on artist market, art exhibits, music, .... Sounds like fun and like it may be the beginning of another great Memphis tradition.

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
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BSL doesn't meet guidelines - Plan raises new questions

The TN Historical Commission has ruled that the RDC’s proposed Beale Street Landing project (BSL) will “adversely affect the Cotton Row Historic District.” Articles about the ruling in the Commercial Appeal, the Memphis Business Journal, and on several websites have raised new questions about the project and leave the old questions of need and location still up in the air.
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Reminder -- Auction this Saturday

Memphis Heritage's 2007 Architectural Auction is this Saturday!
Great friends, great finds, great fun, and a great way to support historic preservation. This year's auction will be at the historic Marine Hospital, 360 Metal Museum Dr., and starts at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $55/non-member; $45/members.
For more information and to order your ticket, click here.

Brewing an Idea

As a norm, we don’t do restaurant or bar reviews, but, after a recent meeting, several “Friends” went to Raffe’s Beer Garden (3358 Poplar; 454-9988) for a late dinner, and we want to spread the word. Raffe’s has great gyro sandwiches, more than 200 beers to choose between, an outdoor patio as well as a small indoor dining area, plus bellydancing some Saturdays, so check it out. We think you’ll like it. And while you're there, maybe you can persuade owner Raffe Sakan to consider a vendor’s license, setting up some temporary tables or using those at the Visitors Center, and serving her fare down along the riverfront in good weather.

GGM goes National

– a report from FfOR Board member Don Richardson

Thanks to Shelby Farms Park Alliance, Don Richardson had a green wristband with him in San Francisco to present to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman on behalf of our collective Greening Greater Memphis movement.
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