VOL. 132 | NO. 199 | Friday, October 6, 2017
Pinch District Redevelopment Discussion On Tap
By Andy Meek
The nine-block area between the Pyramid and the campus of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital known as the Pinch District is set to be remade in transformative fashion as part of the city moving closer to its bicentennial in 2019.
That project refers to enhancements to the riverfront, Mud Island River Park, the Convention Center, as well as the Pinch, where new investment is being spurred in part as a result of St. Jude’s multi-billion dollar campus expansion that’s currently under way.
The design and architecture firm LRK prepared a plan that’s served as a kind of guide for how redevelopment might unfold in the Pinch. It includes ideas like Overton Avenue becoming a walkable, well-lit and more heavily developed east-west corridor between the St. Jude campus and Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid.
The cover story in this weekend’s edition of The Memphis News walks through some context around the Pinch transformation, quoting stakeholders and key local leaders who talk about what’s to come. Some of them will also be present as panelists at The Daily News’ next seminar in its regular seminar series.
That event is set for Oct. 12 at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, at 1934 Poplar Ave. The event will get started at 3:30 p.m. and will feature a panel discussion about the Pinch that includes Memphis Medical District Collaborative president Tommy Pacello, interim Downtown Memphis Commission president Jennifer Oswalt, and LRK principal Frank Ricks.
Seminar sponsors include Landmark Community Bank; Clay & Land Insurance; Allworld Project Management; Turner Construction Company; Bass, Berry & Sims; and RJ Young.
Jonathan Flynt, an associate at LRK, walked The Daily News through renderings the firm came up with in its concept plan that showcase mixed-use buildings with commercial or residential uses above ground-floor commercial uses along the street.
One colorful rendering depicts a busy, pedestrian-friendly street looking west on Overton towards the Pyramid arena. And it’s a conceptual idea that also includes things like streetscape improvements for what could be, in a district that’s seen investment pour into Downtown around it and leave it something of an unfinished gap in recent years.
“The conceptual view depicts renovated existing buildings on Main Street with new buildings filling in the gaps also located on Main Street,” Flynt said. “Further to the west between Main Street and Front Street, the rendering captures additional infill development consisting of ground floor activated commercial uses with residential uses, additional commercial space and/or hotel development located in the floors above.”
That’s a sort of micro-level look at discussions around what a redeveloped Pinch might look like, with general ideas about land use and improvements. But the discussion also has a large-scale component, encompassing the Gateway project and things like the convention center renovation as well as a new pedestrian bridge from the east side of the Pyramid to Front Street that was demolished when the Pyramid was repurposed as a Bass Pro Shops store.
Richard Shadyac Jr. president and CEO of St. Jude’s fundraising and awareness organization ALSAC, told The Memphis News that the hospital is “confident” the Pinch redevelopment will create a more inviting environment around the hospital’s campus.
One that benefits surrounding neighborhoods and Downtown as a whole. And those improvements will likewise benefit ALSAC and St. Jude as they work to attract and retain talent from across the nation and around the world.