CBID Streetscape Master Plan
Downtown Memphis is experiencing a major revitaliza-
tion and continues to enjoy significant public and private
investment within the Central Business Improvement
District (CBID). As identified in the Center City
Commission’s (CCC) CBID Strategic Plan, the CCC
retained LDR International, an HNTB Company and
Engineering Design Group in January 2001 to prepare
a CBID Streetscape Master Plan for Downtown Mem-
phis. This master plan focuses on the “public realm”
with an emphasis on those streets and open spaces
that establish critical linkages among key districts,
attractions, and developments within the CBID.
The study area includes approximately 80 blocks
and extends from the riverfront area to Third and
Fourth Streets and from Auction Avenue to G.E.
Patterson Avenue (St. Paul Avenue along South Main
Street). The purpose of the streetscape master plan
is to provide the CCC with a “guidebook” for imple-
menting streetscape improvements. It includes a Study Area
physical assessment, hierarchy of street types, imple-
mentation priorities and typical plans, cross sections and visualizations.
The master plan is divided into two separate components: Part I: Overview summarizes
the process, physical assessment, overall recommendations and phasing priorities. Part II:
Specific Recommendations for Public Realm Improvements is the primary working docu-
ment and contains all of the recommendations, typical plans, and illustrations.
In addition to the two components of the master plan, the project team prepared an engi-
neering survey (surface conditions) of key streets and street segments and implementation
matrix for use by the CCC. Both of these are separate documents and are not included in
Part I or II of the master plan.
It is important to note that this master plan is a working, flexible document and is based on
information available at the time as well as current development activity and plans. As revital-
ization continues and new development proposals are introduced, elements of this plan may
need to be adapted to these changes. In addition, the typical plans identify streetscape de-
signs for most situations, however, site specific conditions may dictate or warrant unique
designs or designs that combine elements from multiple design concepts as identified in this
Based on input received during the assessment and on LDR/HNTB’s professional observa-
tions, we have identified five fundamentals that need to be taken into consideration as Mem-
phis invests in its public realm. These fundamental considerations apply to any streetscape
improvement, regardless of the level of investment.
Fundamental #1 - Different scales warrant different
design solutions: Some streets, such as Front Street, are
lined with “big box” uses including convention centers and
other attractions which often have blank walls adjacent to
the street. Consequently, their scale is very grand and they
are often experienced from an automobile. Other streets,
such as South Main Street are characterized by individual
buildings, shops and restaurants and contain a significant
amount of architectural articulation and their scale is more
intimate. They are generally best experienced from the
pedestrian perspective. It is important for their streetscape
treatments to respond accordingly.
These two images illustrate
different street scales.
Fundamental #2 - Trees can make a significant positive
impact if used properly: Street trees can make a signifi-
cant contribution to the overall positive experience of a
streetscape, however, they do not have to be used every-
where. It is best to use them strategically where they will
make the most positive impact and to use a species and
size that is appropriate to the individual situation. Finally,
trees should be planted in a properly sized planting well in a
manner that minimizes compaction and other adverse
conditions. If trees cannot be planted properly and main-
tained properly, it is best to leave them out of the
These two images illustrate appro-
priate and inappropriate tree selec- streetscape.
tions and how taller trees can be
limbed up to allow views to the
storefronts (top). Smaller trees
(bottom) often block the storefronts.
Fundamental #3 - High quality streetscapes are
the result of public and private investment:
Many different elements contribute to a high quality
streetscape environment, however, one of the most
significant is the development adjacent to the
street. Some of the most exciting streets in the
world are quite simple in their streetscape design,
but they are animated with dynamic storefronts,
architecture and active uses that put people on the
streets. Private investment and maintenance of the
development that fronts onto a street is just as
important, if not more so, as the public investment
in sidewalks, street trees and lighting.
Fundamental #4 - There is nothing wrong with
concrete: Great streetscapes do not require a
high investment in brick paving and other costly
details. Well maintained concrete with a quality
scoring pattern can be quite effective in creating a
pleasant streetscape environment.
Fundamental #5 - Color makes an impact: With
the predominance of concrete, asphalt, and utili-
ties in an urban streetscape environment, a little bit
of color can enliven the environment significantly.
Bold, bright colors can be achieved with seasonal
plantings as well as through the use of banners,
awnings, and street furniture.
Fundamental #6 - Maintenance is critical: High
quality streetscape and public realm improvements
not only require an initial capital investment, but
also an on-going investment in maintenance.
Streetscape improvements should not be imple-
mented unless resources have been identified for
Based on the physical assessment, the LDR/HNTB team developed a series of goals for the
streetscape master plan. While every goal cannot be achieved with every streetscape project, the
intent is to achieve as many as possible when streetscape improvements are made. The goals
outlined above have also influenced the selection of immediate and high priority projects as
discussed in Section 4.0.
Goal #1 Enhance connections among districts, downtown neighborhoods and
♦ Between the downtown core and the river, particularly between Poplar and Court
Avenues in conjunction with the recommendations of the Riverfront Master Plan,
♦ Between the Beale Street Entertainment District and the river,
♦ Between Court Square and the river (via Confederate Park and Court Avenue),
♦ Between the downtown core and the Pinch Historic District,
♦ Between the downtown core and the Historic South Main District, and
♦ Between Danny Thomas Boulevard/Interstate 40 and downtown at key gateways.
Goal #2: Improve the attractiveness of the downtown public realm and create safe and
comfortable streets and open spaces.
Goal #3: Recognize the river as the city’s “Front Door” and treat the adjacent public
Goal #4: Recognize Court Square and Confederate Park as important downtown
Goal #5: Recognize Main Street as the core of many of downtown’s neighborhoods.
Goal #6: Recognize the alleys adjacent to the Main Street Mall as an integral compo-
nent of the public realm.
Goal #7: Identify and enhance significant gateways and approaches into the downtown.
Goal #8: Implement design solutions that recognize and enhance the unique character
Goal #9: Achieve streetscape environments that can be maintained effectively.
Goal #10: Accommodate art within the public realm.
Goal #11: Concentrate the highest investment and the initial investment in areas
where it will make the most impact.
Based on the assessment, identification of the master plan goals, and input received through
stakeholder meetings, LDR/HNTB identified those streets and public spaces that should be
considered “highest priority” for implementation. These were discussed with the larger stake-
holder group during the second work session in Memphis. Ten of these implementation projects
were identified as “Immediate Priorities” and they are described below. The remaining projects
were identified as “high priority.” It is important to note that priorities may need to be added as
new development and redevelopment efforts materialize. The priority streets and spaces are
highlighted on Exhibit 4 and many are discussed in more detail in Part II: Specific Streetscape
Recommendations for Public Realm Improvements.
Court Square (including North and South Court Avenues)
Court Square is the “living room” for Downtown Memphis and is well located to serve as the
focal point for the downtown neighborhood and ultimately provide a critical linkage to the
riverfront. Significant investment in this space will be critical to leverage additional private
investment around its perimeter. This resource should be model civic open space.
Demonstration Block Alleys (Barbaro Alley, Center Lane, and November 6 th Alley)
Because of the significant public and private investment being directed at the Demonstration
Block, revitalization should also include the alleys located within this area. These alleys
include Barbaro Alley, Center Lane and November 6 th Alley.
Public investment in the demonstration block of the Main Street Mall (between Union and
Gayoso) is well underway. “Gayoso Place” could be a significant new open space that pro-
vides value and incentive to surrounding private investment.
Front Street (Between Poplar and Union)
There is an opportunity to transform Front Street into a grand boulevard, particularly between
Poplar and Union Avenues. Because the master plan for the riverfront is well underway and
because Front Street provides the interface between downtown and the riverfront, the design
of the streetscape improvements should be an immediate priority (construction should be
concurrent with adjacent riverfront improvements). It is critical that these improvements be
coordinated with any new development associated with the riverfront.
South Main Street (Between Linden and St. Paul)
There is already significant investment in the form of residential development, shops and
restaurants along South Main Street, particularly between Huling and St. Paul. Streetscape
improvements to these three blocks and, ultimately, all of South Main Street will make a sig-
nificant impact in linking the South Main District with the downtown core and further encourag-
ing private development.
Poplar Avenue (between Front and Second)
Poplar Avenue is a primary gateway into downtown and the riverfront area. The blocks be-
tween Second and Front Streets are particularly important as visitors approach downtown
Union Avenue (between Riverside and Third)
In both the riverfront master plan and this plan, Union Avenue stands out as the most important
east/west street in the CBID. Attractions and entertainment venues front onto Union and it
functions as a significant linkage to the river and a significant gateway from Danny Thomas
Madison Avenue (between Front and Danny Thomas Boulevard)
Madison Avenue accommodates the trolley link to the Medical District and has one of the
most outstanding pedestrian scales within downtown. The construction of the trolley will
provide an ideal opportunity to implement streetscape improvements at the same time.
Monroe Avenue (between Front and Third)
Monroe Avenue is identified as a priority street because it provides a significant connection
among the ballpark, Main Street Mall, and the river.
Third Street (Between Madison and Union)
This section of Third Street should be considered a priority because of the significant amount
of investment that is occurring on the east side of the street as well as because it is an impor-
tant north/south linkage to the stadium and the entertainment district.
High Priority Implementation
In addition to the streets and spaces identified above as having the highest implementation
priority, the following streets should also be considered in the near future because of the role
they play in connecting existing nodes of activity and investment. They are not listed in any
particular order; however, the timing of adjacent development/redevelopment projects should
determine the schedule for these improvements.
· Third Street (Between Union and Beale)
· North Main Street (Between Auction and Poplar)
· Second Street (Between I-40 and Poplar, including gateway treatment)
· Tennessee Street (Between Huling and GE Patterson)
· Market Avenue (Between N. Main and Third)
· Exchange Avenue (Between N. Main and Fourth)
· Poplar Avenue (Between Second and Danny Thomas)
· Beale Street (Between Second and Riverside)
· G.E. Patterson Avenue (Between Tennessee and Third)
The CBID Streetscape Master Plan will provide long-term guidance for public realm improve-
ments over the next 15-20 years. Realization of the master plan will require implementation of
separate phases, based on existing and emerging priorities. Following is an outline of criti-
cal next steps for the CCC:
1. Continue to identify potential funding sources
2. Identify funding sources for on-going maintenance before beginning the process for
each implementation project
3. Establish CCC’s role in maintenance responsibilities.
4. Identify separate implementation projects and prepare Requests for Proposals
(RFPs) to distribute to engineering and design firms. RFP’s should reference
existing survey information and the master plan document.
5. Reevaluate implementation priorities annually.
The following cost considerations are provided as a guideline for developing budgets for
implementation. The costs include estimates of probable construction costs for surface
conditions and, where identified, a 20% addition for design, surveying and permitting.
(Not listed in order of importance)
1. Poplar Avenue (Front - Second) $321,000
2. Madison Avenue (Front-DT) $980,000
3. Monroe Avenue (Front-Third) $240,000
4. Third Street (Madison - Union) $110,000
5. Union Avenue (Riverside-Third) $420,000-$510,000
6. South Main Street (Linden-St. Paul) $1,560,000
7. Court Square (and N/S Court) $750,000-$1,250,000
8. Gayoso Place Plaza (Excludes Parking Deck) $400,000-$450,000
9. Demonstration Block Alleys
♦ Barbaro Alley (Front-Second) $144,000-$264,000
♦ Center Lane (Gayoso-Barbaro) $36,000-$66,000
♦ November 6 Alley (Gayoso-Barbaro)
Sub-Total Construction $4,997,000-$5,817,000
(20% Design/Survey/Permitting) $999,000-$1,163,000
Sub-Total Construction Project $5,996,000-$6,980,000
10. Front Street (Poplar-Jefferson) $110,000-$180,000*
11. Front Street (Court-Union) $111,000**
Total Immediate Projects $6,217,000-$7,271,000
* Design/engineering costs only (construction to occur at a later date in conjunction with the
riverfront development). Based on construction cost of $550,000 - $900,000.
** Design/engineering costs only (construction to occur at a later date in conjunction with the
riverfront development). Based on construction cost of $555,000.