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A New Face for an Old Broad

A New Face for an Old Broad from American Grapefruit Media on Vimeo.


Memphis narrows in on a Broad Strategy

A New Face for an Old Broad documents overwhelming market preference for meaningful, engaging places. Broad Street, a street that has been marred by transportation engineering's finest attempts to remove traffic from the main street and bypass traffic along Sam Cooper Boulevard, is brought back to life through bottom up urban recolonization that likely wasn't even on the City's economic development radar. 

But here comes the crux. Now with such a proven model of energizing a neighborhood center, what are the next steps? Will this just be another case of a great face but terrible body? Will the new face for Broad Street be supported through working out its limbs and repairing its urban tissue (apologies for slipping back into anthropomorphic Broad puns)? For instance, will such energy give due cause for un cul-de-sac'ing Broad Street and stitching back together many of the other connection points to the surrounding neighborhoods that were severed by Sam Cooper? Are there zoning hurdles that need to be simplified to unburden the private sector? What are the other stumbling blocks that might keep this effort from realizing its full potential? 

Memphis recently was awarded a Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayor Project grant of $4.8 Million dollars. The two objectives outlined in the grant proposal are "to reduce handgun violence and revitalize vacant property in the core city with new commercial activity and building."  Both aims could have positive ramifications in policy and fundraising for places such as Broad Street in Memphis. We look forward to and support our good friend Tommy Pacello and his team in the Mayor Project effort!

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Reader Comments (2)

Thanks for the Broad Ave. shout out! This is a street with three (1/2 sided) blocks of great urbanism that were underperforming and even blighted. The Historic Broad Ave. Business Association, along with numerous residents and community volunteers threw what was essentially a two-day street party to highlight the opportunities of the area. They activated the vacant store fronts with pop-up retail, lined the streets temporarily with street trees and took house paint and (covertly) painted on-street parking, bike lanes, and crosswalks and guess what… those bike lanes and on-street parking are all still there!

So in this sort of tactical urbanism/better blocks kind of way the COMMUNITY took charge and made their neighborhood the place they wanted and knew it could be. Since the event new businesses are moving in, there has been an estimated $8 million in investment in the three block area, and Broad Ave. is soon to be the location of the regions first two-way cycle track.

Keep your eye on Broad Ave. It isn’t anywhere close to being finished and as Joe points out we have a long way to go to knit the community back together. The momentum is good and there are many residents and business owners working to make that happen. There are other underperforming pockets with great urbanism in Memphis where we are working to replicate the success of Broad Ave. It’s a great time to be in Memphis!!!

July 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTommy Pacello

Thanks for the mention. I'm a business owner on Broad Avenue and had the great fortune to help coordinate (along with Livable Memphis and an amazing group of volunteers) the NFOB event. Less than two years later, we have great examples of economic results. And now with the Mayor's office (plus Tommy Pacello) adding fuel to the momentum the journey looks even brighter!

July 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPat Brown

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