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VOL. 131 | NO. 231 | Friday, November 18, 2016

DMC Outlines 2017 Plans, Recaps 2016 Successes

By Patrick Lantrip

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The Downtown Memphis Commission is looking ahead with strategies to improve the pedestrian experience, support large-scale hotel developments, attract corporate headquarters both large and small, and enhance the Main Street Mall.

Many influential Memphians attended the Downtown Memphis Commission’s annual meeting Wednesday night at the Halloran Centre for Performing Arts and Education. At the meeting, DMC leaders recapped the highlights of 2016 and laid out their vision for 2017.

(Daily News/Patrick Lantrip)

Those were among the plans DMC president and CEO Terence Patterson outlined to a crowd packed into the Halloran Centre for Performing Arts and Education Wednesday, Nov. 18, for the Downtown Memphis annual meeting.

Some of the possible enhancements to Main Street may include renovating empty storefronts, more street performances and an increase in public art and lighting.

To help with this, the DMC brought in several consultants from Ghel, a Danish urban design consulting firm based in Copenhagen.

During their 36 hours in the Bluff City, Ghel’s Geoff Dyck and Matthew Lister assessed the cityscape of Downtown and made recommendations to the DMC.

Although Lister concluded that Main Street was a great “human-scale” street, he provide examples from all over the world of how cities renovated everything from alleyways to parking lots with the hope of attracting and keeping people engaged in urban areas.

“Human beings are drawn to those places that make us feel more comfortable, whether it’s physically or emotionally,” Lister said. “On top of that, we actually gravitate to places where other people are. We’re more comfortable, whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, to be around and learn from other people.”

Among the other highlights of the meeting, DMC president and CEO Terence Patterson unveiled a new logo and slogan that brands Downtown as “The Soul of the City.”

“I determined that Downtown really needs to harness more energy,” Patterson told the crowd. “So we decided to reimagine the Downtown Memphis brand so that’s it’s more reflective of this energy that we intend to forge into the future.”

The meeting also gave the DMC a chance to highlight the neighborhood’s current state and 2016 accomplishments.

“Downtown brings in 2 1/2 times more in property taxes per acre than the city and four times more per acre than the county,” Patterson said. “We generate these taxes at a higher level because of the density of the people and the property that we have.”

Patterson also announced that Downtown Memphis now has more than $4 billion invested in new projects.

“These projects are either planned or underway and these projects are translating into more people living Downtown, more people visiting Downtown and more people working Downtown,” Patterson said.

Some of the projects the DMC highlighted from 2016 was the Main to Main Multimodal Connector Project, the transformation of the Harahan Bridge into Big River Crossing, the groundbreaking of ServiceMaster’s new headquarters in the old Peabody Place Mall, a master plan for the Pinch District, and an increase in artwork and murals.

In an effort to facilitate business development, several of the organizations within the DMC reconfigured their incentive plans.

The Center City Revenue Finance Corp. expanded the PILOT program to encourage more development beyond our traditional Downtown boundaries,” Patterson said, referring to payment-in-lieu-of-taxes incentives.

Additionally, The Center City Development Corp. added an exterior improvement grant to enhance existing Downtown properties and neighborhoods.

The annual meeting concluded by giving out a series of awards to some of the more prominent members of the Downtown community.

Jake Schorr, Tyrone Burroughs and Patrick and Deni Reilly all received Individual Achievement Awards for their roles in the betterment of Downtown; Judy Dorsey of WEVL received an Organizational Achievement Award; and Paul Morris, Charlie McVean, Dow McVean, U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, Greg Maxted, Harry Pratt and Michael Hooks all received a Special Award of Merit for their work on the Main to Main project.

The meeting fittingly wrapped up with a speech by Pat Halloran who received a Lifetime Achievement Award in his eponymous building for his decades of work with the Orpheum.

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