Thursday, July 20, 2006

What To Do Now To Improve Downtown, Addendum

Here are my nominations for things to do now in downtown in priority order:

1. Do whatever it takes to remove panhandlers.

2. Clean up. That means maintenance and trash removal.

3. Green up. That means plant and maintain.

4. Develop a cluster strategy for business segments (4-5) that can naturally be attracted to downtown and will benefit from being close to each other.

5. Develop amenities accordingly. (Why, for instance, do we have a decrepit general interest public library in downtown Memphis? Has no one thought to make it a specialty center serving, say, the advertising and design business?)

6. Develop a realistic retail strategy and put someone in charge of execution who has successfully created a unique retail strategy before. I nominate Pogue and McEwen.

7. Get started on the riverfront plans.

There. That cost $0.

Couldn't resist two additions:

8. Improve the entrances to downtown. Make Union the priority. When we finish that, tackle Poplar.

9. Pinpoint every people generator in downtown, then improve one block beyond it in every direction. Think broadly. For instance, include the courts. (Poplar from Danny Thomas to Third looks like hell.)

btw... Kudos to Andy and team for the Farmers Market. Very nice job.


BraveCordovaDem said...

Your suggestions seem to be worthy and prudent.

However, you seem to say in your first post that people in neighborhoods need to be sold on the idea of a strong downtown. Please remember that we middle class folks miles from downtown are not against it. In fact, we want a strong downtown but not at the expense of the safety and cleanliness of our own communities.

Perhaps a citywide strategy would be more practical, not only to improve downtown but to give all Memphians a focus on the entire city versus pitting one area against another.

Smart City Consulting said...

Bravecordovadem, We mention the neighborhood issue, because it's a frequent complaint expressed in comments to these posts, and polls indicate some well of feeling that downtown gets special treatment at neighborhoods' expense. You're certainly right about breaking down the walls between us, because it would go a long way to eliminate the feeling that if one section is "winning," then we must be losing attitude.

Larry said...

I don't think there is any doubt that Downtown gets special treatment at the expense of the rest of the city.

Main Street has been redone twice (first the walking mall and then the Trolley), Mud Island, the Forum, AutoZone Park, Peabody Place (all either directly benefiting from taxpayers dollars or indirectly in tax breaks).

Meanwhile, Broad Street declines, Frayser is crumbling, the Coliseum is falling down, Libertyland is auctioned off ... need I go on?

As for your nominations, I completely agree with 1 - 3 for not only Downtown, but all of Memphis!

Number 4 is ok. I'm not sure about the rest.

I'd like to see the Cossett Library restored ... at least the building, maybe having it as a library isn't the best use but let's get rid of the 60's architecture front and restore it to its former self.

If on #7 you mean the RDC's plan for replacing the Library, fire station, and parking garages with concrete canyons ... then absolutely not.

Anonymous said...

I am quite concerned with the attack on civil liberties represented by your number one priority. Police State tactics will make downtown better...scary proposition.

Smart City Consulting said...

Anonymous, as we've written previously, other cities are figuring out how to balance civil liberties and public civility, and we don't think that urinating on building fronts and alleys just isn't acceptable, because it violates the civil liberties of every one else, as well as the in-the-face, aggressive begging that sets Memphis apart from most other downtowns.

branston said...

Drinking fountains and sprinklers in Tom Lee Park.

Smart City Consulting said...

Larry, Don't believe the propaganda about the concrete canyon. By the way, we work across the street from the main fire station and stare into that concrete fortress all day long. It has no connection to the neighborhood and no sense of place. The RDC's plan would improve things.

Anonymous said...

Please, Memphis! For the sake of taxpaying residents, taxpaying landlords, tax paying hotels, tax paying businesses, and tax paying visitors, stop the panhandling problem. The type of panhandling that occurs here is unlike any city that I have ever been to and to the detriment of the city in which I live.