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State of Downtown meeting has Memphis leaders excited for future developments

Published: Nov. 3, 2021 at 5:47 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Wednesday’s State of Downtown meeting was a welcome insight into the Bluff City’s future.

The virtual panel discussion, hosted by Downtown Memphis Commission (DMC) President Paul Young, was a look at the last year and a half during the COVID-19 pandemic and how Memphis faired as far as growth.

“Before COVID, we welcomed close to 13+ million visitors in 2019,” said Memphis Tourism President/CEO Kevin Kane, one of the panelists. “Well over half of those visitors came to downtown Memphis.”

Kane said those 2019 numbers were record-setting, and the first two months of 2020 were showing promise of surpassing those numbers.

Nevertheless, the city’s downtown area was able to make strides in growth, which will now be accelerated with COVID-19 case numbers lowering with every passing day.

“We were able to see the completion of the $200 million renovation of the now, Renasant Convention Center, which is the primary meeting place for Shelby County here in Downtown Memphis,” Kane said.

Kane also noted the opening of the Hyatt Centric hotel in the downtown area and how there are two more Hyatt hotels in the city’s near future.

Hotel numbers were a point of pride during the meeting as Memphis had an 8-percent higher hotel occupancy rate than the national average.

In another five years, Kane says the city’s downtown hotel room count will double.

The meeting also served as a progress report on the much-anticipated 100 North Main project.

Memphis’s tallest building, 37 stories, was purchased by the city in the summer and received proposals from 11 different companies on renovation efforts in late August.

Young announced the DMC has narrowed it to the following six finalists:

  • 100 N. Main Development Partners
  • Alexander Company
  • Block Real Estate Services & Sunflower Development Group
  • Carlisle Development Company, LLC
  • Flaherty & Collins
  • Russell Glen & Matthews Southwest

All plan, in some way, a multi-use plan for the building that would include residential, retail, office, and parking.

Flaherty & Collins has also proposed a grocery aspect to its proposal, and Carlisle Development Company, LLC has an educational aspect to theirs.

The Brooks Art Museum’s executive director, Mark Resnick, was another panelist, answering questions on the museum’s move to the downtown area.

Resnick says the downtown location would truly give Memphians a chance to experience the museum’s collection and would pair perfectly with the National Civil Rights Museum to add to downtown’s world-class museum environment.

“Our impact is going to go way, way beyond being a building,” Resnick said. “We see ourselves as a beacon for learning, a home for really terrific art, a center for culture, really a place where Memphians can come together.”

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