VOL. 132 | NO. 19 | Thursday, January 26, 2017
DMC President Patterson Talks About ‘Tough’ Downtown Walk
By Bill Dries
Downtown Memphis Commission president Terence Patterson keeps imagining a walk from the Pyramid to the National Civil Rights Museum as a test of where Downtown is and where he wants it to be.
“It’s a tough walk today,” Patterson told the Downtown Neighborhood Association Tuesday, Jan. 24, in what has become a new year’s tradition for the leader of the development organization.
Patterson said the pedestrian experience is a priority for the core of Downtown, which includes the Main Street Mall and beyond.
“We’re not there yet and that’s what we need to build on – having that seamless walk through the core and heartbeat of our Downtown,” Patterson said.
He also talked about the need for vibrancy.
“Vibrancy for me literally is morning, noon and night there is always a fun, energetic, live atmosphere and that starts with the Main Street Mall,” he said.
In recent years, that has included murals and art installations.
“I think there’s no reason we shouldn’t have a live active music culture on our main street,” he added.
Patterson also set a goal of having all of the buildings on the mall and the key east-west corridors “well maintained” and “active” – noting that he counts eight vacant storefronts.
“Absolutely unacceptable,” he said. “We are going to be putting pressure on owners. We’re going to be working closely with folks who want to have fun activations and lively businesses in their storefronts.”
He singled out the owners of the fenced off and empty 100 N. Main office building, the tallest building in the city.
The 37-story office tower was purchased for $5 million in August 2014 by an investment group listing Yitzchok “Isaac” Thomas as its agent. Plans to transform the tower into a combination hotel with apartment units has not materialized to date.
“I just think that it’s in the hands of really bad guys. I tell them that to their face,” Patterson said. “They’ve got to do better because that’s a really an important landmark.”
Patterson said his job involves looking at what other cities are doing and talking to their leaders. But he was quick to add the DMC is looking for “authenticity.”
“We don’t look like other cities,” Patterson said. “We want to be authentically Memphis as we grow.”