This week DNA members heard from the new President of the Downtown Memphis Commission, Terence Patterson at the historic Cossitt Library downtown.
Patterson was born in Memphis, and chose to return to the city after 15 years away at Harvard and the Walt Disney Company, among other ventures. He's been President of the DMC for 6 months now, and shared with the DNA his inspiring vision for Downtown.
"I picture people spending an afternoon at Bass Pro, then grabbing a meal on Main Street. They shop at Life is Good, then grab a drink on Beale before finishing the night at the Fedex Forum. Along the way they see art and experience authentic Memphis," described Patterson. He emphasized wanting to learn from the best other cities have to offer, while keeping Downtown uniquely Memphis.
Patterson described a few of the strategies the DMC is pursuing to achieve this vision. First, he emphasized the need to keep up with growth downtown. Whether that be expanding bike patrol and Blue Suede Brigade routes or adding walkways and crosswalks to keep up with the growing population.
He and his team also want to attract more young, creative, and entrepreneurial types to Downtown. "You'll see ally parties with ping pong in the streets and other things young people love," said Patterson, "they will find Memphis vibrant and more affordable than other cities."
Patterson also mentioned the need to better connect the various parts of Downtown so that they can be experienced more fluidly by residents and tourists alike. He called out the need to work on the "core" of Downtown and the abandoned properties that could be thriving businesses. He hinted at big plans for the Pinch and Medical districts.
"The more people walking around Downtown, the safer it will be," said Patterson, though he was sure to reiterate that Downtown is the safest zip code in Shelby County. "Downtown is safe. Tell your friends."
According to Patterson there is $3.8B in planned or underway Downtown investment, equating to 1,000 hotel rooms and 2,000 residencies.
In other highlights, Patterson mentioned the upcoming ServiceMaster transition and the 1,200 people who will soon work, and hopefully shop and even live, Downtown.
He talked about the Beale Street Buck program, which was implemented this month in an attempt to move crowds from out in the street to inside businesses. "It may seem that there are fewer people on Beale Street now," said Patterson, "but that's not the case. It's just that now they are inside the clubs and businesses."
The crowd control effort is part of a larger safety strategy for Beale and the surrounding area. Other initiatives include counting people coming in and out to plan future security needs, giving officers better site lines of crowds, more aggressive ID-ing, and better managing the perimeters of Beale so people aren't getting in past security.
Patterson emphasized a Downtown of the future that continues to be safe, that has increasing property values, and that is fully connected and vibrant. He definitely won the DNA over with this vision, and we can't wait to see it become a reality!