Behind the Headlines – July 21, 2017

Behind the Headlines – July 21, 2017


– (female announcer)
Production funding for Behind the Headlines is made possible in part by
the WKNO Production Fund, the WKNO Endowment Fund, and by viewers like you. Thank you. Memphis 3.0 and the
future of the city, tonight on Behind the Headlines. [dramatic orchestral music] I’m Eric Barnes, publisher
of The Memphis Daily News. Thanks for joining us. I’m joined tonight
by Ashley Cash, an urban planner and the
Administrator of Memphis 3.0. Thanks for being here again. John Zeanah, Deputy Director,
the Office of Planning, and we’ll talk about some of the other things
you’re involved in, but thank you for
being here again. – Thank you. – (Eric Barnes)
And Eric Robertson is President of Community LIFT. Thank you for being here. – Thank you. – So Ashley, we were talking
a little before the show, we had you on first about
November of last year. Memphis 3.0 had been
recently announced. You had been recently hired, and there are many
phases to this. But for people who
don’t necessarily, aren’t as close to it, you know, we write
about it quite a bit, but I think of Memphis
3.0, and you can correct me because I’ll probably get
a bunch of this wrong, but it’s kind of a master
plan for the city, right? A strategic plan for the city. So if people are involved
in their churches, or their schools, or a
company, or a non-profit, they’ll do maybe
a five-year plan. This is more of a
multi-decade plan to look at transportation
and to look at land use, and all those kinds
of issues, okay. So with that in mind, and we’ll kind of pick through
all various parts of it jumping forward a little bit you finished the couple phase you’re about to finish
the second phase of community input
and community feedback meeting with community groups all around neighborhood groups. – Right. – What have you learned? – That’s a great question. So we’ve spent a lot of time just gathering
background information trying to talk with the public see where they are
on a lot of issues researching, learning,
and understanding What previous plans have done. Maybe neighborhood
level project base plans, and we’ve learned
a number of things. We’ve learned a lot about the challenges that
our community faces in terms of maybe
like transportation, in terms of job access, in terms of
infrastructure improvements. We’ve also learned
a lot in terms of where the marketability the marketability of
our future is headed, and so a lot of that
is going to be growth concentrated in sort of
around the popular corridor out to the edges of the city. Those are sort of the major
findings and takeaways. And then as planners we also always like to ask what are the assets? What are the strengths? Where are some things
we can all come around as a City? And from there we’ve learned people are saying it’s
the people of the city. It’s the heart. The soul of the city, and also our green
spaces, open spaces, and connection to nature. – And how many meetings
have you done give or take? – Oooh, that’s a great
question, yeah, a lot. We’ve got a lot of public
meetings that we host ourselves. We do a lot of what we
call pop-up engagements, and that’s were you’ll find
us at different festivals like the Levitt Shell Festival,
the Frayser Spring Festival, and so forth, but then also we get
a lot of invitations from neighborhood
groups, different… A couple of hospitals
have invited us out, and so there’s a
ton of meetings. I could kind of go through and
give you a ball park number, I would say probably
close to fifty. – (Eric Barnes)
Yeah. – At this point, but it continuously increases. – And we’ll
talk a little bit about some of the next steps, and where it goes from here because it’s moving towards
a 2019 roll-out, correct? – Right, correct. – Yeah, okay, I’ll
switch to you John. You were on, I think when we when, right after
Ashley was hired. Your thoughts on how
Memphis 3.0 is progressing, and then let’s get into
what you hope comes of it, and what other
cities who have done these sort of
planning processes, what has come of
it in other places? – Sure, so this point
like Ashley said, you know we spent the last several months doing a lot of listening, getting ideas, getting feedback. Really hearing where
a lot of people are in terms of you know,
where they see the city, and their ideas for the city. We’ve also done
a lot of research whether it’s brought in some outside teams to help us with that market research
that Ashley mentioned, or whether it’s the
staff doing research on different factors related to the plan. We’re at a point
now where you know, we’ve presented a lot
of those key findings. There were three
meetings in late June, where we presented a lot
of those findings, and we’re transitioning to the point where we’ve gotta make some decisions. We’ve really gotta understand, you know, do we have it
right in terms of the way that the process is
reading the values of the city, and of the people, and in terms of where
we’re headed as a city, what are the decisions
that we need to make with respect to the areas
where we wanna see growth, the areas where we
wanna see investment, and what does that look like? What we know is the, like Ashley said, there are a lot of indicators towards continued growth
along the popular corridor, and along the edge of the city. We’ve seen that for years, and what the
research is telling us is that we’ll
continue to see it again should we do nothing, and the central question, I think that Ashley
was trying to pose to the public last month in those key
findings meetings is, is that what we want for
our future for the city, and we’ve got a chance in
the next couple of months working with the
public in the venues that Ashley talked about, and then another round
of public meetings, to pose that question
and think about you know, where the areas that we wanna see that
growth and that investment, and how does that
affect those things that we have articulated as
a community that we value like access to jobs
or access to transit. How well does you know,
continuing growth, in the way that we have, or how poorly does
it allow us to improve transportation access, job access, economic mobility, or are there different
scenarios in which we could grow as a city that would
see greater outcomes for those things that we value? So that’s kind of where
the process has been, and where I see it going in
the next couple of months, and what I wanna see from it overall is, you know,
that foundation needs to ultimately lead to a land use plan, a
recommendation, to a set of strategies, a set of rules about
if this is the vision that we articulate
as a community whether it be the public, government,
non-profits, for-profits, this is the vision
that we all agree on. How do we get there? And how do we get
there in the time frame that we’ve allotted, and not let certain
things sort of just fall by the wayside, and I think that discipline is what’s so important
to making sure that we achieve those
objectives long term. – In those objectives,
and the things that are defined by the plan I mean, Memphis 3.0 isn’t
gonna implement all those. I mean Ashley’s not gonna
implement everything that comes in the plan. – Right. – The city, whoever works at the county, you know, there are certain
things that they would do, but some of it,
is it fair to say it’s existing organizations, and a kind of blueprint
for how they might work, and how they might fit into it? – Yeah, absolutely. One of the things that we
started saying early on is you know, we have
gotten the question, at the end of this
planning process is there like you know,
a big pot of money, you know, at the
end of the rainbow, and the answer’s no. There’s not, but
the the good new is there’s money spent
everyday in our community, and by further
investing our community we hope that even more money
is spent in our community, and that’s money spent
not only by government, but by the private sector, by the non-profit sector, and so what we’re trying
to do with Memphis 3.0 is to come up with
a common vision that sets a set
of rules in place, and a set of
expectations in place, that we’re all following. The governments following, the private sector, that we’re asking the
private sector to follow, that we’re hoping
non-profits follow, philanthropy and so on. So we’ve got that vision that
we’re all working towards that’s common among
all of those entities. – And so Eric Robertson
I’ll bring you in because that’s in part I mean I think you’re
one of those groups who you’re not only you’re involved in
the process now, you’re on the advisory council
to the Memphis 3.0 plan, but you, Community LIFT, which we’ll talk
about what it does. it will be implementing
ostensibly some of these things that are coming together
through this planning process. Is that fair? – That’s what we hope not just LIFT, but obviously. – (Eric Barnes)
Absolutely, absolutely. – Us, and a host of
other organizations I think, as John has said we believe that if this
work is to be successful it’s gonna have to take
a collective effort, and there has to
be a space in here where the business
community sees what’s their role to implement,
philanthropic community, how are they aligning
their resources, non-profits, how are we
aligning our programs? As well as government entities how are we being strategic to you know carry out this plan that has created
for the first time I will say in a long time, hopefully, a shared vision that we can all get behind. – So, tell people what
Community LIFT does, and how long it’s been around. – It’s been around for just
over five years now officially. The simple answer
is we facilitate and connect CDCs, residences,
and businesses to resources, and we think– – (Eric Barnes)
CDCs are Community…? – Community
Development Corporations – (Eric Barnes)
Thank you. – And we think about
resources in four ways. So in terms of
capital we think about four ways we think
about capital, we say we connect them
to financial capital. So we provide loans actually
to some small businesses located in neighborhoods. We help to build and provide intellectual
capital, so ideas, planning. We supported the
planning process in previous neighborhoods. We help to provide
human capital. So we have a network of organizations
to provide volunteers, that can help with
particular efforts, and then lastly we
support social capital between residents being
engaged and advocating, and moving together
for their communities. – So, we talk about this, I’m kind of fixated on this
for a little bit which is how 3.0 works with all of the
existing organizations. For instance, I mean least week we had, or recently I can’t
remember exactly when it was, we had Memphis Beautiful
and the blight people on. We’ve done shows in the
past about de-annexation. We’ve done shows you know, we’ve talked about
urban art before. We’ve talked about bike
lanes and transportation, and Greenprint which you know, John Zeanah, has obviously
been heavily involved in. How how much is these
efforts of non-profits, of philanthropies, how
much are you aware of that as you go through
this processing that’s a place where this non-profit or this
group might be working on an island, and they could kind of fit
into this whole vision – Yeah. – Is that part of what
you’re trying? – Definitely, that’s
a really great point of the purposes or
reasons behind having a comprehensive city wide plan, or having a long range plan in that it really gives
you sort of an avenue to collect and pull all
those different ideas, or all those different possibly
projects and solutions. So a lot of that we have
knowledge of what’s going on. As we were walking in Eric
was just talking about another process in a
different neighborhood that we need to aware of, and so we’ll have knowledge of
the different planning efforts, the different groups like
Clean Memphis or like MPI that are working specifically
on blight or a specific issue, but then also we’ve got
a network of partners that say exactly that you know, you need to really
be talking to this person, because they’re doing
X, Y, Z as it relates to maybe
transportation improvement, and it really aligns,
or I think it aligns with what you’re doing, and so that’s were our staff having sort of deep connections into these neighborhood
organizations, and these non-profit agencies, and continuing to build and
facilitate those relationships. We’ve got a number of working
groups through this process, and so a lot of
those working groups are made up of people
who have been working on different issues
like you’ve talked about, blight, work force
development, etc. And so it just makes sense that
those different objectives, or those different strategies are aligned with this process, but we also have to
keep in mind that the comprehensive plan can’t
be all things to all people. So we’ve got a specific
lane that we try to stay in as relates to land-
use infrastructure. How does the built
environment improve conditions related to crime
or public safety? How does the built environment
support existing schools? And so that’s were our
expertise really comes in to say you’re working in
your specific area, but how does the
built environment, and what does our plans
and policies say about the way that operates? – And that part, and thank
you for correcting me, that it’s Clean Memphis,
it’s not Memphis Beautiful, No Bill Dries today, So you can fill that role, and
I appreciate that very much, but it was interesting
to talk to them about that relationship
between blight, and a clean
neighborhood, and crime, and Christopher Blank
from WKNO-FM was on, and he was talking about
a series of stories he did where you know, people
in the neighborhood say look I can tell you
where the crimes gonna start. It’s where all the trash is, so these things, which I
think somebody who listened to what you just said, went wait how did we
go from transportation and land use to crime, but those things are
interrelated, correct? I mean there are
deep connections. They’re complicated, but
there are deep connections. – Yeah, there are connections. There are correlations
that can be made, and through a lot of research, and through a lot of on the
ground talking to people who understand how
these different factors play into each other. – I was just gonna say,
you know one of the ways I think ultimately, the
best opportunity for this to be really interwoven
throughout the community is a lot of people will have to take ownership of the plan. Eric Barnes, you would
have to take ownership, and someone’s on the show, and you say you know, how does
this align to Memphis 3.0? People applying to
grants, to foundations, they need to be asking in
their grant application how does this align
to Memphis 3.0? Businesses coming into
the city of Memphis through the Chamber and EDGE, they need to look at that, and say how does this
align to Memphis 3.0, and so once we get
this kind of systematic adoption and
ownership of the plan, then that’s how we
then will get it interwoven throughout all
the myriad of organizations throughout the city. – Well and that’s a good
segue to Greenprint, right? I mean for me, because we’ve
had you on the show before talking about Greenprint, we’ve certainly
written about it, and other papers have as well, that Greenprint which is you know, kind of big picture vision of how of new green
ways, of new bike lanes, and how those connect
to existing parks, be it Shelby farms, be it
Overton Park, be it Riverside, I mean all of the
different parks in town, and that gives a kind
of vision of what, what are these parks? What are the Wolf
River Conservancy, what are they gonna do so they’re not
operating in isolation, and they have some sort
of big picture plan of how all these green
spaces interrelate. Is that a fair analogy
to what Eric just said? – Yeah, and I’ll add on just what Eric was talking about is actually what when
Ashley and I were on last what Frank Ricks
was talking about which is building a
culture of planning. That is something
that this process needs to have as one of the key outcomes, is building that
culture of planning, and that was one of
the things that I think that Greenprint really
got us started on. You know, before we started the
Greenprint planning process you had several,
you know a collection of non-profit organizations who you know, all sort
of had their niche, their project that
they’re working on, their area they’re working on, but typically you know,
really kind of zeroed down, into a specific,
you know, mile or two miles of trail or a single park, and they kind of came together
as a collective and said you know this project
isn’t going to really be special
unless we’re able to connect it to
this greater network, and I think that was the
opening for Greenprint, and ultimately the reason why the county you know,
pulling together all those those partners applied
for the HUD funding, and we got the HUD funding to do that regional grant, and one of the
outcomes of that was not only you know, to
create that sort of plan for a network that ultimately the you know Shelby Farms
Park, and Wolf River Greenway, and the Green Line and so on, all connects to, but it also started that process of building that
culture of planning across these different groups, across these
different communities in way that we’re hoping
to leverage and build on, and do more and do
better with Memphis 3.0, and in the same way so that whether you’re a
neighborhood organization that’s got you know, a
project that you know, you’re really passionate about, and you’re hoping that it’s
going to address blight, or address some
vacancy in you know, your neighborhood
surrounding that project whether it’s you know, maybe a
park or something like that. Ultimately that project
is stronger by being sort of a key component
of what the overall vision of the city is with Memphis 3.0. So I think this
is a great chance for all those
different players to kind of come together
in this space. you know, not having to give up. you know, what is sort of
their community identity, but seeing how their community
fits into this larger whole, and this larger vision for where we’re
headed as a city, and I think that’s
something that obviously we’ve been
missing since the 1981 plan, and maybe even missing,
you know, even before then, but a real opportunity
for us to set that vision that we can all agree on that you know, sees how
all these communities connect to that. – And so I’m curious if for you,
I won’t turn to you all, but the two grocery
stores that are going in, in areas that haven’t
had grocery stores, Binghampton is now
getting a grocery store, it’s under construction and
announced fairly recently that Frayser’s getting
a grocery store, and it’s been a food desert, and those are issues that
really impact how people live that is not related
to Memphis 3.0, but it’s the kind of
thing down the road, you’d like to see come out of Memphis 3.0
potentially, right? That these are areas
of development, you talked about
where EDGE works, well EDGE is doing
this community tax incentive plan to help get that Frayser grocery started. Is that a fair example of
the kind of things you hope coming out down
the road from this? – I think that’s an
example of one solution, or a type of solution, grocery stores end up being
very tricky in particular because when you
start talking to folks you know, everyone
wants a grocery store. – (Eric)
It might be questionable if Frayser was a food
desert ’cause there are a couple of grocery
stores already there. – Right, yeah, so that’s
part of our process, and part of the background, and we start with
conversations with the public, but we continue those
throughout the process, and so it might be understanding we’ll research this, but you have
conversations with people who are already existing
in the neighborhood. That’s exactly what Eric says, I don’t know why they
call this a food desert, but that’s an example of
when you talk with people, when you look at the data, when you look at trends
and existing issues, and existing opportunity areas, then you can come up with
some sort of solution, and it might be a
short term one year. It might take one year or
whatever that solution is, it may take five years, but without a plan
or process in place to have and facilitate
those conversations, you may not get to that place. So that Binghampton or
Frayser has gotten to. – Another maybe an example, because I’m just
trying to make sure all this stuff is real tangible. – Right. – ‘Cause when we talk
about this stuff, I went to the meeting, one of the last meetings
you had at the Brooks, and it’s very tangible, but I just wanna make
sure that we get to it’s not these esotric ideas, it’s these kind of tangible
things that happen. Is what’s going on in the
Memphis medical district, a kind of example of plan, it’s certainly an example
of urban planning. So if people haven’t
driven through there lately you can visibly see changes in the streetscape,
in urban art that’s gone up, and the opening of
new stores and new you know,
coffee shops and so on, and that was done by the
stakeholders in there, the hospitals, and the
university and others, who said let’s
transform this place. We need some change done. Is that an example
of the kind of thing that could come out in
other neighborhoods? – (Ashley)
Right. – That could come
out of Memphis 3.0? – Yes, absolutely, so things
like infield development you might talk with someone, and they may say their neighborhood hasn’t had a
certain type of development, or hasn’t had development
in a number of years, or they may say
there’s high vacancy. There’s a lot of vacancy, and immediately, it goes
into the solution of well how do we bring people
back into the neighborhood, or how do we begin to build
up those vacant areas, or create them into parks, whatever that ends up being, but you have to
have that dialogue and figure out what
that solution is, you have to have
the stakeholders, like you talked about, and then you have to have
folks who are dedicated to continuing to
make sure that vision comes to fruition, and I think like you said the medical center
is a great example, I also think Soulsville
where LIFT works, is another great example of just an area of where
stakeholders have come together they see what their
weaknesses are, but then also what their
opportunities are, and then in sort of a
step-wise fashion work on those to develop
solutions for the area. – And I would like to. – Yeah go ahead John. – Just to kind of
like bottom line, I think what we’re
talking about here is what we’re trying to do is understand how we create
markets in these places. Because you know, going
back to the market study, that Ashley mentioned
from the beginning. you know, one of
things that just kind of like floored us, was for the most part, if you break down the
city into districts there were maybe four
of fourteen districts were 95% of new
housing, new retail, new office space, was forecasted over
the next 25 years. In those four of
fourteen districts, and there were some districts were there was hardly
anything forecasted in terms of new development. Some of those districts
were areas where we see the highest levels of vacancy,
the highest levels of blight. You know that’s the
kind of trajectory that through a
comprehensive plan we’re trying to change
that potential future. We’re trying to to create
markets in those areas that have been areas of
dis-investment for decades. So we can get new opportunities
like a grocery store, or new retail, like has happened
in the medical district. It’s complicated in every place, and it’s a different
solution for every place too, but I think that
the opportunity here is to understand how do we get sort of the right rules in place to be able to drive you know, development in certain places, or limit it in certain places. How do we get the
right incentives, the right strategies, the right subsidies in place to be able to make development in certain communities
that have been dis-invested for some time a
little bit more attractive for somebody like you know,
a CDC to take the risk, to go in like Binghampton
CDC is doing now with the grocery store
to take that first leap to do that complex project- – And bring in private
partners the way they did. – And then bring in
private partners. – I mean that’s kind of. – And then ultimately
make a market that’s more attractive to
private capital to come in so that we can start
seeing new rooftops, and new opportunities
in those areas. – You were going to say? – I was going to say, and I know they’ve
done a great job of bringing
that to a practical level, but I think we can’t forget that at a high strategic level it’s not just developing
the medical district because we need to develop
the medical district. It needs to be we’re
developing the medical district because we have a larger
economic strategy of health, and this ties into our larger
economic strategy of health we are investing in Elvis Presley and Whitehaven because we have a larger
strategy of tourism, and so these larger
strategies and priorities, which we hope will come out
of the planning process, then guides the level of
investment strategies that we’re doing. So that we’re not randomly
pursuing initiatives. One of the reasons
why we are even having a Memphis
3.0 conversation. LIFT had the privilege of being
a part of the early stages of really galvanizing people around moving forward with this is that we needed to not
be randomly doing things, but thinking about how
do these things connect to an overall direction that we’re trying
to move the city in, and right now that’s
not very clear you know, if a company
comes, we welcome you, but it’s not necessarily a
part of our strategic plan, and we hope to change that. – Yeah, yeah, I mean,
again the thing about working in isolation, and I’ve mentioned
before on the show that I’m on the board, I guess I’m the President of the Board of Overton
Park Conservancy, and Greenprint back
to that just really just as an example, that helped guide some
our decision making. You know, how would we
connect to Binghampton, and how would we
connect to bike lanes that are coming in. How would we make
certain decisions about you know not
just in isolation, like what do people really
want in the park. Do they want picnic tables, or they want a
pavilion or whatever, but they also want
ways to get there and Greenprint you know, kind of laid out this
road map for that at a kind of high level. In terms of the meetings
you’ve done so far, we have just a couple minutes
left here, biggest surprises? Some things, people
wouldn’t be surprised about, some of the things
we’ve talked about. We’ve talked a lot… People talk a lot about
poor transportation, talk about blighted
areas, talk about areas that have been de-populated
north and south, economic inequality, some
of those things were known, but, although imagine you got
definition to it, and so on, but some of the surprises
you’ve heard from people. – Well, really, surprises
isn’t necessarily the word I would use, but just
what you would think when talking with people
depending on your area, depending on what access
you have to opportunity is really going to structure
what you see as a challenge, or what you see as
an emergent need, and so a lot that really was around when you think
about transportation people who were
closer to the core talked a lot about
efficiency and frequency. People who were much further out talked about options and
things like park-and-rides, and so it was just pleasant
to hear the conversation around I guess the differences
in areas where we are. – Okay, and I
messed up the time, ‘ cause we are out of time. I thought we had little
bit more than we did. I apologize, but that
is all the time we have. Join us again next week, thanks. [dramatic orchestral music]

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