Providing more ways to move around Downtown… When completed, the 26-mile, multi-purpose trail will wind its way through 22 neighborhoods from Downtown out to Germantown. Twelve miles have already been completed and are open to the public and another three are under construction.
Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital has been recognized as a Best Children’s Hospital for 2021-22 by U.S. News & World Report.
The annual Best Children’s Hospitals rankings and ratings, now in their 15th year, are designed to assist patients, their families and their doctors in making informed decisions about where to receive care for challenging health conditions.
Le Bonheur was also ranked in cardiology and heart surgery, gastroenterology and GI surgery, neurology and neurosurgery, nephrology, orthopedics, pulmonology and urology.
“I am thrilled that for the eleventh consecutive year, Le Bonheur has been recognized as a Best Children’s Hospital by U.S. News & World Report,” said Le Bonheur President Michael Wiggins, DBA, FACHE. “This honor is a sign of our dedication to providing the best health care for children. This means that families can count on us to provide safe and effective care for all children who need us.”
U.S. News and World Report
Electric vehicles are quietly but inexorably coming to Memphis, where the number registered has doubled over the past two years.
That’s according to a four-page memorandum that the Downtown Memphis Commission’s transportation program manager Lauren Crabtree prepared for the Downtown Mobility Authority, which oversees parking facilities.
Titled “EV Charging Recommendations for DMA Facilities,” Crabtree and the DMC staff recommend the authority consider two new policies:
— Require that 5% of spaces in any new, authority-affiliated parking garages be built to easily and more affordably be converted to “Level 2” charging stations.
The DMC labels such spaces as “EV ready,” meaning that as new parking facilities are built electrical panels and conduit capacity be installed to accommodate stations that can fully charge a vehicle in five to seven hours.
“This preparation and advance planning can make installation of future charging stations easier and less expensive,” the memo states;
— And, require the DMC staff to review each six months the rate of use of electric vehicle charging stations in the parking garages. The twice yearly assessments will gauge the growth of demand and prepare for adding new chargers when needed.
Crabtree went over the staff research and report for the Downtown Mobility Authority late afternoon Wednesday, March 19.
Editor’s note: This interview was conducted before Loews said on Monday it was continuing its Downtown Memphis project with a narrower scope.
One month after taking over as president and CEO of the Downtown Memphis Commission, Paul Young sat down with The Commercial Appeal to discuss post-pandemic business recovery in Downtown, his priorities for the organization and the importance of minority contracting on large developments.
Young took over the organization following the departure of Jennifer Oswalt, who remains a contractor for the DMC as she works with the Haslam Family Foundation. Young previously served as director of housing and community development for the city of Memphis. Read the full interview below.
Commercial Appeal: Now, a month in charge of the DMC, how’s it going? How was your first month at the helm?
Paul Young: I’m really excited. I’ve learned a lot and there was a lot that I thought I knew about DMC, but there’s a lot more complexity to the programs. So I’m getting initiated into all of those different things, and I’m really excited about the opportunities for Downtown. There are a lot of things that are brewing, and a lot of things that I believe will come to fruition, particularly after we fully come out from the pandemic. But it’s a really exciting time for Downtown.
CA: What are some of those things that are brewing that you’re most excited about? Any particular projects or areas of Downtown that are getting developed that you’re really excited about?
Young: It’s projects that have been on the horizon for quite some time, things like The Walk that have been talked about for a number of years, it’s getting ready to actually break ground this summer. Projects like the Hyatt Centric, which just opened, and the next hotel, there’s gonna be three hotels right there on that site. Hyatt Caption is getting ready, groundbreaking took place about two weeks ago. And so it’s those big projects that are continuing to happen.
And then many of our longtime tenants and Downtown, some of the restaurants and bars. Some of them have already opened and some of them are currently making plans to open and working to get staff back up. And so I think over the next couple of months you’ll see even more activity Downtown. The last few weeks have been really good, really busy, particularly on the weekends. And so we know that people want to be back Downtown and so we want to make sure that people are able to come and enjoy it safely.
CA: Post pandemic, I use that term and no one really quite knows what it means, but we kind of talked about this return to normal, when do you think Downtown will be back to normal? Will there be lasting effects from the pandemic or do you think in a month or a year Downtown will be like it was in 2019?
Young: It’s hard to say what the pandemic will do so I don’t want to speak too early. But I do think we are seeing signs of life coming back to Downtown as the vaccination efforts continue to increase locally. I’m hesitant to put a timeline on it, but I do think over the next year you will begin to see Downtown come back to form. And when I say back to form, I mean that’s more restaurants opening, that’s more people coming back Downtown… that momentum was very evident because of all the things that were opening up and announcements taking place. And the blessing for us is that many of those announcements that were made in previous years, those projects are still underway even though some didn’t quite take off during this past year or so that we were in the pandemic.
CA: Can you give us an update on any of those bigger projects that might have been announced a year or two before the pandemic and might have stalled a little bit in the past year? Are there any updates on any of the big projects Downtown that are still ongoing but haven’t seen a lot of motion in the past year?
Young: One that has seen motion in the past year is the 100 North Main building. That’s one that has recently had a lot of activity. DMC, through our Downtown Mobility Authority, acquired that structure, and we are currently working on a (request for proposals) for developers that might be interested in taking that structure on. We expect to issue that somewhere around June 15.
Projects like Loews Hotel, they’re still doing doing their exploration. And so we’re really excited that they’re still on the horizon. I mentioned The Walk. That’s one that will break ground this summer. Those are probably some of the biggest ones. But then I often hear about things like the Brooks Museum. We recently had a meeting with them and they are still doing their work and fundraising and design work to bring that project forth. So Downtown, the future for Downtown, is very, very bright.
CA: How is the DMC going to be different under your tenure than it was under Jennifer Oswalt’s? Are there going to be any big changes in priorities or the direction of the organization?
Young: I don’t know if there’ll be big changes. Some of the things that I definitely want to prioritize are minority spending and engagement. That’s something that was a priority under Jennifer and something that will continue with me in this role. And I’m excited about finding more opportunities to get my minority businesses to locate Downtown, to find ways to ensure that minority businesses play a role on the construction side of projects.
And one of the things that I’m really excited about trying to do is figure out how we can even encourage more diversity in developer teams and figure out, how can we build long-term wealth in the African American community from the developer side. That’s a little bit more complex, but it is something that we are interested in pushing.
CA: Maybe this is an impossible question to answer in a short interview, but how do you do that?
Young: I think, just by stating it and saying that that’s a priority for us and as a city, I think that helps give development teams direction so they can be more intentional about finding minorities that are willing to invest and participate in those projects that are being proposed. That’s one way, just creating a narrative that says, “This is what we want.” We are authorized to do public incentives.
And so, as an agency there’s often a public incentive. We have the onus of responsibility to figure out what’s in the public interest, what things do we want the developers to bring us that’s going to benefit the city of Memphis and Shelby County and our population and our citizens. So I think the more we can push for these things, while it’s difficult to mandate, and the more we can encourage developers to do it, that’s one way that we can start moving the needle.
CA: You mentioned the incentives. There have been a couple joint City Council and County Commission meetings talking about incentives particularly (payment-in-lieu-of-tax incentives). Where do you think the conversation around PILOTs needs to go? And do you think the DMC at least… should evaluate the situations (in) which it is giving PILOTs to see if there should be more asked of those developers?
Young: Those conversations were really good. I think it was good for us to have that public dialogue and I think it was informative for our commissioners and councilpersons to participate. In terms of where we go from here, I believe that is something we should constantly monitor and look at and see are our incentives doing what we intend for them to do? One of the things that was pretty well understood after the series of meetings is that there’s a difference in the two PILOTs that are being offered by DMC and (the Economic Development and Growth Engine for Memphis and Shelby County).
So on the real estate PILOT, our goal is to try to remediate blight, is to get a structure that would not have previously been renovated to get done, to get it renovated. As we look at that, there is a threshold where an incentive is no longer required, meaning there’s an amount of rent that can be charged. And once that rent is high enough, whether it’s office, hotel, apartment whatever it is, once that rent is high enough, there’s no financial incentive needed because there’s no gap. Our market is not there yet, where projects can self-sustain, particularly in Downtown just given the cost. But it is something that we will continue to monitor.
And then the other piece is just thinking about what is the public good that we want to require from the projects that are receiving incentives. That’s a process that we have to constantly look at and will work with our boards, Center City Revenue Finance Corporation, and our staff to continue to monitor those programs as we move forward.
CA: Your focus is Downtown. But how can the DMC foster growth Downtown that will lead to growth in other parts of Memphis?
Young: So, Downtown is really the economic heart of our community. So, as we create jobs, we create activity, that does benefit all of the neighborhoods in our community. For instance, if you have a business owner that’s looking at moving their business from some other part of the country into Memphis, they’re probably going to stay Downtown. They’re going to base their perception of the city of Memphis and of the Mid-South region on their experience in Downtown Memphis. And so it’s important that we have a high quality space in Downtown.
We also have jobs that are located Downtown. Tourism is a significant sector for our community. We can create job opportunities for those residents that live in the city of Memphis and Shelby County and the region. All of it is really really interconnected. So having a very strong Downtown, it absolutely helps every part of our community.
CA: I did want to go back to one thing we talked about a minute ago you mentioned the Loews Hotel. I know people are very interested in any little update on that. So there is a development agreement with the city, I believe, where does that agreement stand?
Young: I’ve only had a brief conversation with them in my short time in this role. So my understanding is that they are still doing all of their due diligence. I did have a brief conversation with them. I know that they are still high on Memphis, and they’re looking forward to getting into this market. So I think over the coming months we will hear more about that project.
CA: So to your understanding, it’s still moving forward just not moving at warp speed?
Young: Right, the pandemic did impact their discussions. But they’re definitely still moving forward.
CA: Broadly speaking, what are your short-term goals for Downtown and what are your long-term goals for growth in Downtown?
Young: Short term is pandemic recovery. We want to make sure that we get people safely back Downtown. We want to make sure that Downtown is a safe space. We want to make sure that it’s a fun and active space. We want it to reflect the character and makeup of our city. And so we want to help the businesses that are currently located here, we want to provide some programs and incentives that encourage them to stay. They had a tough time over the past year, because, the Downtown businesses, pedestrian traffic is really really important. And it was a time period where people were really staying in their neighborhoods and shopping in their neighborhoods. While sales taxes for all of Shelby County went up, the sales taxes that Downtown Memphis generated actually went down, and that’s a result of people not coming Downtown. So, in the short term, we want to make sure we get back down here and we get those businesses stabilized.
In the long term, we want to make sure that we’re… creating a space for all. That we’ve creating a space that reflects the diversity. We want to see our incomes and our community grow as a result of the activities that are taking place Downtown. I know that’s a loaded statement. But, that means that as construction jobs and these things are happening with continuing to push the needle on participation as businesses are located Downtown, that we’re seeing (a) diverse range of businesses that are located here. All of those are things that we want to make sure that we’re pushing in the long term, and we can help our city greatly if we can do that.
CA: We’ve seen a fair amount of residential growth in Downtown, particularly the South Main Arts District area, and there have been announcements about two smaller market-style grocery stores. But should anyone be expecting a big grocery store to come to Downtown anytime soon?
Young: The grocery store has been something that we’ve talked about in Downtown for quite some time. I do believe that over time it will happen. I don’t know that it will happen in the next one to two years. But I think in the next three to five years, it is likely to happen. I just don’t know where yet, But it’s really exciting that we have seen those smaller grocers come in. It is going to demonstrate that there is a market here, and I truly believe that we will see a larger one, that can ideally coexist with the smaller ones that have been opened up recently.
Putting together a strategic plan for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is no easy feat.
The research hospital’s ever-growing Memphis campus, global aspirations, and pursuit of serious pediatric health conditions — beyond cancer — equals genome-level complexity.
Over an 18-month planning period, more than 200 St. Jude staff members worked on the 2022-27 strategic plan announced Tuesday, April 27.
Over the summer of 2019, Dr. James Downing, president and CEO of St. Jude, put together 10 task forces of about 10-15 members each to focus in on the biggest problems and challenges in pediatric catastrophic diseases.
Reports to St. Jude leadership followed along with higher-level meetings with the St. Jude Board of Governors. Those continued into early 2020, paused for three months, then resumed as St. Jude got a handle on campus safety in the COVID-era.
The genesis of the new $11.5 billion strategic plan set to launch in July 2021 came about from that collaborative process.
“It is a very ambitious plan, a very bold undertaking, one that will take all hands on deck for us to accomplish. But, we are convinced that we are approaching challenges that no other institution can approach.” Downing said.
Memphis Business Journal connected with Downing and Dr. Charles Roberts, EVP and director of the St. Jude Comprehensive Cancer Center, for their insights on some facets of the far-reaching expansion plans.
The following Q&A was edited for clarity and brevity.
MBJ: The plan involves 70 new faculty members. How do you approach bringing that talent here to make this expansion possible?
Dr. James Downing: We get them on campus [to] see what’s going on in this institution, see the strategic plan, and see the vision of moving forward. And, we get them to think about what’s possible, what can they do here that they can’t do at Harvard, at Stanford, and at other great institutions across the United States or in Europe. We’re not 100% successful, but we’re pretty good at getting people to change the course of their career and come join this mission that we have here at St. Jude.
Dr. Charles Roberts: The resources that are available — the intellectual resources, the financial resources — that is unique and the vision coupled with it. I picked up and moved here [from Harvard] and have not for one moment ever second-guessed my decision. And so, what I see now is a strategic plan that [will] become a hub for collaboration and innovation. A strategic plan that’s 50% larger than the one that got me here five years ago. It’s incredibly exciting.
What will the $3.7 billion in the strategic plan do for all the programs focused specifically on pediatric cancer?
Roberts: The $3.7 billion is focused on kids who have the worst survival rates. A major faculty recruiting effort of 10 new laboratory-based faculty dedicated to childhood cancers, plus all the people that will staff those laboratories. And, [we will be] using the information that comes out of them to accelerate our preclinical and clinical testing of new therapeutic agents that are coming out of our research laboratories.
One example is we have a new initiative in what we call translational immunology and immunotherapy using cellular immunotherapy, so the body’s own immune cells to attack cancer. We’ve now developed a leading program and already have success in leukemias and are now deploying that to attempt to improve cure rates for solid tumors and brain tumors. And then, we take these advances and bring them into clinical trials.
Across the strategic plan, we’re going to be increasing by 30% the number of children who are enrolled in our clinical trials. And so, from laboratory science to translational science to clinical sciences to survivorship, this $3.7 billion has the potential to underwrite major advances in the field.
One billion dollars is earmarked toward research and treatment for sickle cell and other diseases beyond cancer. How can St. Jude move care forward in those areas?
Downing: It’s focused on moving forward gene therapy and gene editing approaches as curative approaches for those diseases. It’s building the infrastructure for the fundamental science to move that forward, and the infrastructure required for moving those kinds of approaches into clinical trials. It’s also providing increased support for the patients and their families. These are chronic diseases that they will have throughout their life.
As we look at COVID-19, we see a new opportunity and we see that St. Jude can contribute to better prepare the world for that next pandemic by developing the research infrastructure to look at the infectious diseases of childhood. As part of this plan, there’s a new center for pediatric infectious disease research and investment of 10 new faculty members and a buildout of a floor in the Advanced Research Center that we’re going to be occupying in about six weeks.
What does this latest expansion mean for the Pinch District and the City of Memphis?
Downing: The expansion is important for Memphis. It’s 1,400 new jobs. And these are, by and large, highly trained individuals coming into the City of Memphis. Many come from outside the city and many from outside the country. That’s an infusion of new, highly trained individuals coming to live in our community. The construction of the new outpatient building, clinical office building, scientific and administrative office building, the new housing project, and the completion of the Advanced Research Center, all of that is new construction, new dollars into the Memphis community, and changing the look of the Pinch District. I hope the investments in the commercial areas of the district continue and accelerate and develop a vibrant neighborhood for St. Jude.
You talk about accelerating progress. How far and wide can St. Jude go beyond this latest expansion?
Downing: Is there a size limit to St. Jude? I think it’s a good question. I don’t know if there’s an ultimate size limit. But over a period of time, there is a limit to how fast an organization can grow. We were at a rate that we felt we could manage, but we were pushing the envelope. This plan is exactly in the same position. We’re at a rate we think we can manage, but we’re at the limit of what we probably can manage. We’re within that limit, but not pushing beyond it. We think we can accomplish what we’re laying out over this next six years.
Despite the pandemic and its economic casualties, the President and CEO of Downton Memphis Commission (DMC) Paul Young says that no major local projects and developments have ceased; all are looking to advance. Young also says “investment capital is still flowing” and that investors are keeping a keen eye on post-pandemic numbers. Watch the recording.
Fresh foods will be the focal point of a new grocery store planned for Downtown Memphis.
Castle Retail Group, parent company of Cash Saver and High Point Grocery stores, will bring a new store to South Main at 136 Webster sometime this year. The store, to be called South Point Grocery, is sandwiched between Central Station on the west and the U.S. Postal Service facility on the east.
Tom Archer, owner and president of Archer Custom Builders, bought the building in 2017 with visions to bring a grocery store to Downtown Memphis. The store will be small — with a sales floor of about 8,000 square feet — compared to other stores. Its size and the neighborhood pushed the focus on fresh foods, said Rick James, owner and CEO of Castle Retail Group.
“We know in a space of this size, we’re not going to have 48-roll toilet paper; it just won’t work,” James said. “But we can handle high-end, fresh produce, deli, bakery, and a butcher shop. Quality and freshness would be two of the key words.”
Another grocery store has been on the Downtown to-do list for more than a decade, as some have said Miss Cordelia’s feels far away and disconnected from Downtown’s Central Business District. For years, Downtowners have have told surveyors that another grocery store is a missing gap for the neighborhood. James said many now drive five miles to Midtown stores, like Cash Saver or Kroger, to stores in West Memphis, Arkansas, or to big-box stores like Costco on Germantown Parkway.
James and Archer said South Point Grocery makes sense now with Downtown’s new population density. Nearly 26,000 people lived Downtown last year, according to the latest numbers from the Downtown Memphis Commission (DMC), up slightly from the nearly 25,000 people who lived there in 2010. DMC data says nearly 88,000 occupy Downtown during the day.
“We’ve been down here all these years and South Main has been kind of on the edge of busting wide open,” said Archer, whose company is headquartered on South Main. “We wanted to get ahead of that but it beat us. It’s been crazy down here the last couple of years. So, this is perfect timing.”
South Point Grocery was, in part, inspired by Castle’s success at High Point Grocery. James said before buying the beloved community grocery store, his company had not really done a small-format store. Without it, “we wouldn’t have had the confidence that we can” run a smaller store Downtown. Archer said he’d been looking for a partner for his Downtown grocery building, saw James talking about High Point Grocery on the news, and walked away impressed when he went to see it for himself.
The building features a parking deck on the east side with plenty of public parking available on Webster. A covered patio with ceiling fans front the street, which James said will be used for dining and, perhaps, live music.
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As the pandemic begins to wane and people look toward the return of normal life and an economic rebound, some long-vacant properties in Downtown Memphis could see action for the first time in a long time.
Over the past year, work has stalled on some projects around the city while others, like the redevelopment of the Joseph Oliver Building on Front Street, have plowed ahead.
Some of the buildings below were previously identified by the Downtown Memphis Commission as “game changers” — buildings whose redevelopment could make a big impact on the future of Downtown as a whole.
Here’s the current status of some of those properties.
107 S. Main St.
Preliminary internal cleanout and selective internal demolition have begun inside the building and crews could break ground at the site within the next 30 to 45 days, said Brett Roler, DMC vice president of development.
Architectural drawings are complete. The project is in permit review with Shelby County, Roler said Wednesday.
New York developer Tom Intrator previously said he wanted to turn the 30,000-square-foot building into ground-floor retail with office space on the upper floors. He received a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes incentive in 2019 to redevelop the 107 S. Main St. building, along with several other Downtown properties he owns.
The total project cost, when Intrator first brought the project to the DMC, was estimated at about $7 million. The developer received a 15-year PILOT incentive to help fund the project.
18 S. Main St.
Also owned by Intrator, the 23,500-square-foot property at 18 S. Main is another that could see some action soon.
Roler said the architect for the project, Designshop, was working on final construction documents for the refurbishment of the building.
Intrator received a $200,000 grant and a 13.5-year PILOT incentive from the Downtown Memphis Commission to help pay for the renovation of the vacant building into a mixed-use building with ground-floor and basement commercial space and office space on the upper floors.
The overhaul is expected to be a total investment of about $4.7 million.
Joseph Oliver Building
The $23.3 million redevelopment of two connected buildings at 99 and 105 Front St. remains ongoing and could be finished by the end of 2021 or early 2022, Roler said.
A former cold storage warehouse, developer Billy Orgel is turning the site into an apartment building with more than 100 apartments and an underground parking garage.
The long-deserted, 162,000-plus square-foot facility was falling apart when Orgel bought it, and the previous owner had considered tearing it down. There were localized areas of collapse inside, the roof was leaking and bricks were falling off the exterior, necessitating the scaffolding that remains around the site.
Since then, the building structure has been stabilized and blight remediation work has finished. Construction crews at the site are actively working on the internal framing of the building.
Orgel received a $650,406 grant and a 20-year PILOT incentive to help fund the restoration.
Prior to the pandemic, owner Amit Patel had signaled his interest in converting the 10-story office building at 46 N. B.B. King Blvd. into a hotel. Roler said some internal demolition had been done and lead paint and asbestos had been removed from the site, but COVID-19 stopped work on the building.
Built in 1925 for the Dave Dermon Co., the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984 and has been vacant for about a decade. The lower floors of the building remain boarded up, and some of the upper-floor windows are broken.
However, the building is in a good location near other properties that have been redeveloped for hospitality uses, Roler said. Hotel Indigo sits on the other side of Court Avenue.
“It’s in that emerging corridor where you have some nice boutique hotels,” he said.
Just south of the Dermon Building, the Sterick Building at 8 N. Third St. has been the subject of many development rumors over the years, but as of now, property owners have not put forward any plans for redevelopment.
Roler said the DMC’s anti-blight lawyers were actively working with the building owners and tenants on possible ways forward for one of Downtown’s most iconic buildings, which has been vacant since the 1980s.
He said he was bullish there could be a future for the property, but it depended on how it is marketed to potential future developers.
The 351,000-square-foot building’s distinctive architecture makes it one of the most recognizable buildings in Memphis, something Roler said would be an advantage in marketing it.
“Different is a competitive advantage. We don’t look like ‘anyplace USA,’” he said. “We don’t look like Toledo or Nashville. We don’t look like Chicago.”
100 North Main St.
The long-vacant Downtown skyscraper could be getting a new life soon. A Downtown Memphis Commission body will likely soon own Memphis’ tallest building and be marketing it to local and national developers trying to entice someone to redevelop a whole city block in the heart of Downtown.
The Downtown Mobility Authority will buy the property bounded by Adams Avenue, Second Street, Jefferson Avenue and Main Street. It includes a four-story garage, a surface parking lot and a small dog park, in addition to the 37-story tower.
The DMA will own the property and will put out a request for proposals. Ultimately, the ownership of the building will be transferred to a developer — if someone chooses to redevelop the site — but the DMA will retain ownership of any future parking developed on the site.
147 Jefferson Ave.
The Jefferson Plaza building sold to a Texas-based company for $2.8 million in March. City Center Services Inc. sold the building to Houston company Trident Capital of America LLC.
The more than 100,000-square-foot building at the corner of Jefferson and Second Street was built in the 1950s and has been vacant for more than a decade. There were plans to redevelop the property in 2012 and an adjacent parking garage was demolished. However, the redevelopment plans later stalled.
Trident has not indicated any future plans for the site since the purchase went through.
Nylon Net building
Demolition of the long-vacant building at 7 Vance began in March. However, the development and architectural team have some more work to do before construction can begin.
At a meeting on Wednesday, members of the Design Review Board said they were unimpressed with the exterior design of the building, saying it would fit in in Cordova, but not in Downtown Memphis. The board decided to table the application and asked the architect to make some changes to the building design.
Co-developers Chance Carlisle and James Maclin are looking to rebuild on the site, paying homage to the former building on the outside, including the smokestack, and creating luxury apartments inside. They plan to use some brick reclaimed from the old site in the exterior of the new building.
Current plans call for more than 200 apartment units, about 10,000 square feet of ground-floor retail and a 246-space parking garage below the apartments. Construction will begin by the summer and is expected to last 22 to 25 months, developers have said.
The total project cost is expected to be about $52 million.
Corinne S Kennedy covers economic development, soccer and COVID-19’s impact on hospitals for the Commercial Appeal. She can be reached via email at Corinne.Kennedy@CommercialAppeal.com or at 901-297-3245.
Downtown Memphis, Tennessee, is an eclectic area that allows couples with diverse preferences to plan exciting dates. Outdoor lovers can enjoy the area’s many parks while music fans can find live blues playing on the famous Beale Street. Restaurants in downtown Memphis serve up a wide variety of cuisine, and couples can satisfy their intellectual curiosity at the area’s art and history museums. No matter how many times they’ve visited, couples can always expect something new in the bustling, yet laid-back, downtown Memphis.