What will Downtown Memphis look like in 2030? How can we invest
wisely to best serve the needs of not only Downtown residents, but all
Memphians and our neighbors across the Mid-South? How do we connect our
major assets and increase economic opportunity and diversity?
Three guiding principles of the BuildDowntown plan:
• Promote compact critical mass. Concentrate development within a
five-minute walk of Signature Streets and Public Spaces. This will
guide the density needed to attract retail and create a vibrant public
• Use robust public/private partnerships and incentives to unlock
development feasibility. Continue to incentivize Downtown development
with existing incentives like Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOTs) and
explore the creation of innovative new tools and public/private
partnerships to fill additional gaps.
• Implement Downtown-wide design standards and design review.
Enforce consistent design standards to ensure that new development
creates visually appealing and experientially cohesive spaces.
• Create a more vibrant public realm. Enhance the pedestrian
environment by creating a cohesive network of tree-lined Signature
Streets that link revitalized Signature Public Spaces, including the new
riverfront park system.
• Promote investments that support the full spectrum of the
visitor industry. Capitalize on the broad range of visitor activities
that can take place Downtown, including cultural programming, meetings
and conventions, sports, and other events attracting locals and
• Enhance mobility to and across Downtown. Increase mobility
options with a focus on pedestrians, cyclists, transit riders, shared
parking, and emerging transportation technologies.
• Build equity into every implementation strategy. Consider the
equity impacts of every Downtown program and policy, and implement
concrete programs to increase affordable housing, provide workforce
training, and grow small businesses.
• Ensure that Downtown grows more inclusive as it becomes more
successful. Make sure that Downtown’s public spaces reflect the
diversity of Memphis through inclusive programming and design.
• Promote Downtown’s authenticity. Support the growth of Memphis’
authentic culture, including its music, food, art, and history.
Key focus areas include:
Housing a diverse population
Mobility – getting to and traveling within Downtown
Job creation and entrepreneurship
Safety and place management
Parks and public space
Filling the spaces in between here and there
Culture and entertainment for tourists and residents alike
Beautification and civic pride
BuildDowntown Focus Area
The study area is the entire 6.5-square-mile Central Business
Improvement District (CBID). The CBID is generally bound by the Wolf
River on the north, Crump Boulevard on the south, the Mississippi River
on the west, and Danny Thomas Boulevard on the east, with an extension
between Poplar Avenue and Dr. M.L. King Boulevard eastward to Watkins
Street to include the Medical District.
BuildDowntown was developed with Memphis 3.0 and built on the data
and groundwork already laid during the citywide planning process.
Project staff from both plans communicated and coordinated efforts on a
regular basis. BuildDowntown provides a common understanding of both
where Downtown Memphis is today and what it wants to become tomorrow.
We aim to have BuildDowntown adopted by the City of Memphis as a sub-component of Memphis 3.0.