Inspired by the Better Block Program in Oak Cliff, Dallas, Texas that crowdsourced a weekend demonstration of what a downtown street should be like, Memphis hosted their own last November. Located on Broad Street, the event, “A New Face for Old Broad“, attracting 13,000 attendees.
Pat Brown, co-owner of T. Clifton Art Gallery on Broad, sums it up nicely, â€œIt’s easier for any of us to envision what the future can be if you can see it, touch it and taste it as well. Instead of looking at a piece of paper, we want people to experience it.â€
Some important community-involving elements:
- Temporary repainting of the street to include bike lanes, which still remain.
- Each of the four schools in the neighborhood designing and painting a crosswalk.
- Vacant commercial properties staging several pop-up businesses and six restaurants (currently located elsewhere in Memphis) to demonstrate possible permanent uses.
- Live music and children’s activities throughout the event.
The key to these demonstration events is to spur new investment. Some examples announced in May 2011 include:
- Design work for a major new bike path system.
- A significant new mural by French artist Guillaume Alby to beautify warehouses on the street.
- An overlay plan for future Broad business development to attract the kinds of businesses the neighborhood wants.
- Grant funding for artistic bike racks and trash cans.
The event was created via a partnership between Livable Memphis and the Historic Broad Avenue Arts District.
Learn to develop your own Better Block with the How to Build a Better Block guide.