Five takeaways from Uptown Memphis

The Discovery stage of the project included a number of bike rides throughout the Uptown neighborhoods. 

The Discovery stage of the project included a number of bike rides throughout the Uptown neighborhoods. 

YARD recently joined a multi-disciplinary team (Torti Gallas, Carter Malone, Allworld, Malasri, Development Strategies) in Memphis for an Uptown planning charrette. Our active approach to discovering a place's sometimes hidden possibilities reinforced five key takeaways for how we structure our engagements:

1. Don’t rent a car 

It is amazing what you miss when trying to navigate around a new place in a car. We skipped the rental and worked out a deal with Explore Bike Share so that we could be on two wheels the entire week. We saw more, met more people, and even found a few hills in Memphis. 

2. Meet neighborhoods where they are

People are busy and committed. They belong to a number of organizations and have packed daily schedules. We doubled our reach by getting on others' agendas: where they grabbed lunch, coffee, and recreated. 

3. Engage inside and out

Folks often spend a lot of time concerned with the people who live or work in an area. But we often forget about those who have no reason, today, to come to your place or neighborhood. That's a problem. To combat it we engaged people from outside the neighborhood just as much as inside. It can give you a totally different and equally valid perspective on what holds a place back and what it can do to turn the corner. 

4. Every place has a different starting point

The Uptown TIF boundary is a huge area with multiple neighborhoods. Not only do they all have a different form and character, they all exhibit vastly different market conditions. A one-size-fits-all approach does not work so we built a toolbox that is tailored to where the neighborhoods are today and lets them build from there. 

5. Big visions are only as good as how you start

Implementation for us is not a Next Step but built in. Big thinking is important but it can also be overwhelming, particularly to a place that has had a number of plans, promises, and big "silver bullet" attempts to change the neighborhood. One of our primary jobs in Uptown is to create a strategy for each neighborhood to grow starting this summer, bridging from what is possible today to a bold vision for the future. These recommendations include demand discovery and activation, smart small wins, and signature development projects that build upon one another. A funding scorecard that can be adapted to each neighborhood's market condition will help ensure that the community's priorities are infused into each initiative along the way.


Images from the Charrette:

YARD & CompanyMemphis