VOL. 132 | NO. 195 | Monday, October 2, 2017
Leaders to Discuss Pinch District Progress
By Andy Meek
Nearly a year ago state and local officials joined representatives of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital on the hospital’s campus to announce $37 million in state and local funding into public infrastructure around the hospital.
That news followed St. Jude’s announcement of a multibillion dollar expansion split between capital spending and programs and technology.
Richard Shadyac, the CEO of St. Jude’s fundraising and awareness organization ALSAC, told Memphis City Council members one month after the press conference the state and city funding would be dedicated to public infrastructure improvement and blight elimination – separate from what St. Jude is doing to its own campus.
Since then, elements of a multi-part so-called “Gateway Project” have begun to gather steam, an initiative that includes several developments under way, including a convention center renovation and improvements to the Pinch district.
All of which is to say, there will be plenty to talk about at the Oct. 12 seminar hosted by The Daily News, the sixth of seven scheduled seminars this year. The event will feature a panel discussion focused on the Pinch district redevelopment, including St. Jude’s activity outside its campus as well as what’s still to come in the area.
Panelist Tommy Pacello, president of the Memphis Medical District Collaborative, talks about what’s happening in the Pinch as representative of a larger positive force that’s helping elevate city neighborhoods.
“What I think is happening in the Medical District generally, but even at a micro level in the Pinch or the Edge neighborhood and other places, is that the institutions there are really having this market-stabilizing effect,” said Pacello, who lives a couple blocks away from the Pinch. “They’re being more and more intentional in how they’re investing and spending not just at their own campus but in the areas between and around their campuses.”
Joining Pacello for the seminar – held at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, at 1934 Poplar Ave., and starting at 3:30 p.m. – will be Jennifer Oswalt, interim president of the Downtown Memphis Commission, and Looney Ricks Kiss principal Frank Ricks. His firm has helped city officials work up a plan to guide the Pinch’s redevelopment.
Seminar sponsors include Landmark Community Bank; Clay & Land Insurance; Allworld Project Management; Turner Construction Company; Bass, Berry & Sims; and RJ Young.
The upcoming $60 million renovation of the Memphis Cook Convention Center is the next part of the Pinch plan that’s shown signs of life in recent weeks. A City Council committee in September approved funding that paves the way for that work to begin.
“Where we are in Memphis is we’ve got these really awesome nodes of activity, and in many cases where we find ourselves today is being in the business of connecting those things,” Pacello said. “You’ve got Uptown and the core of Downtown and the Pinch district that need some attention in between. And once you’ve got the Pinch district done, you’ve got Uptown, Harbor Town and the St. Jude campus connected back in with the core of Downtown. That’s a huge, huge win.”