by Jon W. Sparks
The way Downtown is getting gussied up, you’d think there’s a bicentennial on the way. In fact, the 200th anniversary of the founding of Memphis by John Overton, James Winchester, and Andrew Jackson is coming in 2019 and if they could see it today, the old entrepreneurs would be astonished at what’s on the bluff. In this issue, we look at three aspects of Downtown development and what the impact is going to be.
First is the expansion of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital a third of the way into its ambitious six-year strategic plan to conquer pediatric cancer. Work that has been done, is underway, and is planned, both on and off campus, is changing everything from nearby neighborhoods to genetics on a global scale.
A bit further south, the once lively but lately moribund Peabody Place is coming back stronger than ever as headquarters to ServiceMaster. The move into one building from various properties out east brings some 1,200 employees to liven up the Downtown scene every day.
Then we have the South Main area, which can’t seem to stop building apartments, condos, and lofts to meet the demands of millennials as well as empty nesters. But is it growing too fast?
All this activity gets a look from Ray Brown, an urban designer who would like to see Memphis work harder to make the public realm one we can all live in and love.
And as Doug Carpenter notes, our city has taken a shine to adaptive reuse as a way to grow while keeping the character of Memphis alive and well.
Other renovations and reboots, meanwhile, are going on all over the place. One of the primary projects proposed by the city and St. Jude is the Bicentennial Gateway Project, which would co-ordinate a revamp of the Memphis Cook Convention Center, a redo of Mud Island River Park and the riverfront, and revitalization of neighborhoods around St. Jude.
Andrea Wiley notes that while we see a lot of interest from millennials in Downtown, they’re actually following a path blazed by creative firms who have seen the virtues of being near the river for some time.
There’s a lot going on and it’s exciting to see Downtown becoming a more and more desirable destination for visitors and residents. That said, there’s an assumption that come the bicentennial, the economy will still be robust enough to keep the Downtown dynamic going. And that we can improve the transit system. And step up the fight against blight. Oh, and get that grocery store.
Our next issue is a guide to meeting and special event venues, from private rooms in restaurants to The Peabody’s Grand Ballroom to the Memphis Cook Convention Center. Anyone planning an event will want to check out this useful reference.
The latest articles from the print version of Inside Memphis Business — plus excerpts from our weeklyTip Sheet.
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