DMC Expands Staff and Focus to Further Award-Winning DEI Strategy

International Award, Additional Program Scope, and New Hire all Support Progress

The Downtown Memphis Commission (DMC) was awarded the International Downtown Association’s (IDA) Pinnacle Award* at the September 2022 IDA conference in Vancouver. The industry’s highest recognition, the Pinnacle Award, represents the most inspiring innovations in urban place management. 

 

Each year, the IDA recognizes outstanding projects as winners of the Downtown Achievement Awards, which identify advances to urban centers by organizations worldwide. This year’s projects were awarded by a jury of IDA members in the following categories: leadership development; organizational management; economic development; marketing, communication and events; planning, design and infrastructure; policy and advocacy; and public space management and operations. The DMC’s award-winning efforts highlighted the organization’s policy and advocacy work in the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) realm, with the Building Downtown DEI Toolkit, designed to increase MWBE and emerging developer participation in the development of Downtown Memphis.

 

“The Downtown Memphis Commission’s innovative work received the IDA Pinnacle Award for setting the new standard for improving cities around the world,” said David Downey, IDA President and CEO. “The DMC’s DEI Toolkit has made an impact on its community and the people who live, work and play there, and is evidence of the continued commitment to champion livable, vital and thriving urban centers.” 

 

In addition to the IDA-recognized work, the DMC will take on a growing role in the emerging developer landscape, beginning fall 2022. The DMC will be the new home to multiple programs previously managed by Urban Land Institute (ULI) and RegionSmart. Under the DMC’s umbrella, these programs will continue to support greater equity in the overall development momentum in Downtown.

 

“The DMC has a history of advocacy for emerging developers,” stated Paul Young, DMC President. “We believe that pulling these programs together under one roof will strengthen the programs and lead to a stronger, more connected, development community.”

 

The programs include the Real Estate Diversity Initiative (REDI) program, Develop-A-Thon, and other locally-focused workshops and classes designed to prepare individuals for careers in commercial development. 

 

“DEI doesn’t happen by accident,” said Brett Roler, DMC SVP Planning & Development. “The DMC already has a robust toolkit designed to support a wide range of projects and emerging developers. Through the addition of this new emerging developer programming, we expect to redouble our efforts to continue growing the ecosystem of small developers taking on the challenging work of building up the core city.”

 

To ensure the success of these programs and the ongoing DEI work, the DMC has recently hired Tori Haliburton as Director of DEI. Haliburton graduated from Lane College, a small Christian HBCU in West Tennessee, and received her Master of Public Administration from Villanova University. 

 

Before joining the DMC, Haliburton served as Director of Grants and Funding Opportunities at Christ Community Health Services, and in various positions with increasing responsibilities at Wiley College and Lane College. Haliburton has extensive community engagement, project management, and team-building experience. She was named as the 2016 WestStar African American Leadership Emerging Leader and was selected by the Jackson Chamber of Commerce as Forty under 40. She has served as a softball, cheerleading, and pageant coach; and AKA sorority advisor. Her current favorite coaching/advising role is in support of her college-aged son’s pursuits at her alma mater, Lane College.

*The DMC has received the Pinnacle award twice in three years,
the first for the Open on Main program in 2020.

Click for additional images to support release. 

Emerging Developer Programs

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Additional Quotes in support of the DMC’s Emerging Developer Programs
“We are thrilled to find a new home for the Emerging Developers programs at the DMC. The DMC is the perfect organization to provide the expertise to ensure that real estate entrepreneurs in our community have access to the education and resources they need to be successful.”
–Anna McQuiston, RegionSmart Executive Director

Additional Quotes related to Tori Haliburton’s role at DMC
“We’re really excited to add Tori to our team. Her task is to wake up everyday thinking about what more the DMC can do to be proactive and aggressive to attract new investment and ensure that we’re building a downtown that reflects the diversity of our full community.”
–Brett Roler, DMC SVP Planning & Development

The 901: MATA to consider reopening Madison Avenue trolley line; Grizzlies get big win

MATA will start testing the trolley line in the next 90 to 120 days to examine the possibility of reopening the line, said Paul Young, Downtown Memphis Commission president and CEO, our Corinne Kennedy reports.

Young said during Wednesday’s State of Downtown presentation he had spoken with MATA President and CEO Gary Rosenfeld about the possibility of reopening the defunct line. The transit authority has purchased a modern streetcar for the test.

“That testing is going to determine the future of that line,” Young said. “They’ll take that modern streetcar and they’ll go very, very slow and just test how it works on that line.”

Beale Street Artcrawl Festival Returns Saturday

Vicky Love, self-proclaimed science geek and art collector, looked for an art crawl after moving back to Memphis from Nashville. Something not as big and glamorous as River Arts Fest, but a cozy, independent artist pop-up fair working symbiotically with local businesses. “I told myself, ‘They don’t have an art crawl in Memphis? I’m going to claim one,’” Love says.

A graduate of Tennessee State University in Nashville, Love holds a master’s degree in geospatial information systems, and she’s an artist and photographer. Her left and right brain work double duty. She is also the founder of Dear Music Nonprofit, supporting artists and creators with the creation and public performance of their work.

“Creating opportunities for others is my calling,” she says.

In 2018 and 2019, the Beale Street Artcrawl Festival was amazing, according to Love. Beale was packed. The crawl went online last year due to Covid. This year, the event is a hybrid, with an online presence and the live event on Saturday.

“It’s hard to step out and believe in yourself and your abilities,” says Love. “Artists believe in their work, but they still need to pay the bills. It was hard before the pandemic. It’s even harder now.”

Her pet project is getting the word out that Dear Music Nonprofit not only supports traditional artists but also encourages young artists like Thomias Calderon, who is on the autism spectrum.

“I want those young artists who test within the autism spectrum to continue to express themselves and discover more abilities.”

Beale Street Artcrawl Festival, Beale Street, Downtown Memphis, Saturday, Aug. 21, 1-7 p.m., free.

901 Day is Coming! Here’s Your Guide for Celebrating:

901 Day presents 24 hours for us to be loud and proud about the love we have for our city—and the best thing about it is there are hundreds of ways for you to show your city pride.

You could learn some history, support a local business, go on a photo walk, slice a pool, stream Memphis music, purchase that one-of-a-kind piece made by a local artist…I think you get the picture.

We’ve got so much to be proud of here, and this celebration only comes once a year. To make the most of 901 Day 2021, keep scrolling for lists, local discounts, and suggestions that’ll help you do the day justice—because this is our city, this is our day, and as Blocboy JB would say, “Look Alive!

WHERE THE PARTIES AT:

Meet us in the Edge District: A Choose901 Block Party

Ain’t nothing like a block party bash to get folks in the mood to celebrate our city—and from 4PM to 9PM, we want y’all to come kick it with us under the streamers on Monroe. In partnership with Memphis Medical District Collaborative, the Downtown Memphis Commission, and the Edge District Business Association, We’re taking over the Edge Plaza to bring y’all an evening of entertainment, featuring DJs, dancing, food trucks, and more festive fun to commemorate the occasion.

Here’s what we have planned:

Our friend DJ Capital A of WYXR is taking the stage to set the vibes. You can catch him under the “Say Hello” sign doing his thing from 4PM-8PM.

There’ll be food trucks on-site keeping ya fed:

But don’t sleep on the Edge District eateries in the area, because they’re bringing the heat, too: Chef Tam’s Underground CafeEdge Alley, and Slim & Husky’s Pizza Beeria.

Memphis Made is coming out to pour beers, and Ashley Butler of Ashe Bar will be slinging drinks—and High Cotton Brewing Company is right down the way with crisp, cold beer flowing straight from the tap.

Speaking of High Cotton [and Edge Alley, mentioned above] when 9:01PM strikes, the after party continues there! Our very own DJ Travi$ will be on the 1s and 2s, and we’ll be getting down until it’s time to get gone!

And y’all know it’s not a party without pics. That’s why we’ve got The Mane Wilding working on a photo booth setup to incite FOMO from the fire pics you’ll be posting.

As the day draws near, we’ll be posting updates on our Facebook Event Page—so let us know you’re coming, and hope to see you there!

**The public art piece entitled “There is More to be Proud of”,” is a component of MMDC’s Marshall/Monroe streetscape improvement project. The Downtown Memphis Commission (DMC) provided project funding to support this work and commissioned extraordinary artwork by local artist Cat Peña. This shimmering, soothing, shade-casting public art installation was unveiled to the public at a party on the plaza in March 2017**

$30 million fund help minority developers launch projects in the Medical District

The Memphis Medical District Collaborative and Pathway Lending on Monday announced the creation of the Medical District Investment Fund, a $30 million capital fund to help finance development of residential and mixed-use projects in the district.

MMDC director of real estate Ben Schulman said the fund will go beyond simply encouraging new development. It will be strategically utilized to encourage development by minority- and women-owned businesses, create a diversity of housing and transform the micro-economy of the diverse neighborhood.

Minority-led group proposes $50M hotel and high-end condo project in Pinch District

A minority-led group has plans for a roughly $50 million mixed-use development in the Pinch District. Members of Blues Note LLC told MBJ that the group intends to develop the Blues Note Hotel — a 100-room property — at 463 N. Front St., as well as a 40-unit high-rise condominium.

The North Front Street property is situated within walking distance of the Pyramid. MBJ reported on May 11, that Ashaif Enterprises purchased the property at 463 N. Front St. for $715,000, according to a transaction filed with the Shelby County Register of Deeds.

The Blues Note Hotel, aimed at being an independently owned and operated entertainment and destination property, proposes an array of amenities, including:

  • 100 guest rooms
  • 40 condos with floor-to-ceiling glass and patios
  • Retail and office space
  • Steakhouse restaurant
  • Coffee shop
  • Lobby bar and live music stage
  • Conference and meeting space, with a ballroom
  • Custom soundproof music studio
  • Spa and salon
  • Workout facility
  • Rooftop guitar shape hotel pool with stage and lounge
  • Private condo pool with lounge
  • Custom trolley station
  • Parking garage with valet

Bill McCrary, principal developer and project manager for Blues Note, didn’t give a timeline on when he expected construction to begin or when it would be completed.

While due diligence has been done, Blues Note is still in discussion with city planning department officials on details such as as building layout, McCrary said.

He indicated that, once completed, the Blues Note Hotel would have about 100 employees.

“We are going to have [an] above-average pay rate or way above the pay rate of what hotels are normally paying employees,” he said.

McCrary said the Memphis project would be the first of what they envision as a similar concept coming to other cities.

“What better place to kick off a hotel, condos, and mixed-use [brand] called Blues Note [than] in Memphis? And the beginning of a national franchise; we are in talks with cities like New Orleans, Miami, and Detroit for a Blues Note,” he said.

With the condos, Reginald Fentress, Blues Note’s development coordinator, said the City of Memphis will also benefit.

“They are going to generate revenue to the city tax base every year, which is a win to the city,” Fentress said.

According to McCrary, the $50 million price tag on the project could increase, based on a high level of infrastructure for the building. The group is working with local, state, and federal officials to build above the existing Trolley track,” McCrary said.