UMDC Critical Challenges and Initiatives

Mobility Planning

Mobility planning focuses on transportation planning for quality of life. Mobility planning looks to enhance transportation for through key areas of social justice, public health, economic development, and environmental quality.

Mobility Planning is supported by the initiative Moving in Memphis. This initiative looks at how Memphis currently moves, the problems faced by citizens, and how to better mobility for residents. Creating greater mobility opportunities for the people of Memphis deals with looking at alternative modes of transportation which are not present in the city, along with enhancing the systems which currently exist. 


Environmental Design and Health

Environmental Design and Health focuses on the built environment and its relation to quality of life. Environmental design and health looks to create improved cities addressing environmental quality, natural systems, physical activity, safety, and social connectivity through walking.

Memphis Walks is an initiative dealing with Environmental Design and Health. The initiative focuses on walkability looking to improve environmental conditions which discourage walking along with public policy which takes priority away from pedestrians. The goal is to create a safe, walkable area by improving the built environment and giving the pedestrian greater accessibility.

Crosstown Community Perception Survey

The Crosstown Community Perception Survey came about as a way to acquire information for the Crosstown area. Community members from within Crosstown and the surrounding neighborhoods were able to provide input on issues of walkability, safety, and health as they related to the built environment such as lighting conditions, sidewalk quality, destinations, traffic congestion, and social engagement. The survey is one of the first steps in understanding and improving healthy places within Memphis. With the overall aim of the project being to improve walkability, health, and safety, it will lead to strategy identification towards urban design and public policy enhancements.

Through this initiative, the paper "Transdisciplinary Collaboration Through Memphis Walks" was crafted.  This is a research paper for 2016 ASCA-ASPPH Conference addressing issues on public health and the built environment through the lens of Memphis Walks.

Blight Remediation

The Blight Authority of Memphis' (BAM) blight remediation strategy for Tennessee Housing Development Agency (THDA) blight elimination program.

Beginning in the Summer of 2016 the UMDC was contracted by the BAM for assistance with the development of a blight remediation strategy as part of their application for participation in THDA's Blight Elimination Program (BEP). Within our role, we were eager to participate in an opportunity to build a new partnership and conduct work on an important initiative able to positively impact the revitalization of Memphis neighborhoods.

The UMDC's role for the Blight Remediation Strategy was:

  • to conduct data collection and analysis;
  • create a prioritization rationale and subsequent methodology from relevant datasets; and
  • further develop a prioritized implementation strategy for the remediation of blighted properties.

Our approached revolved around developing a prioritization plan for classifying and ranking blighted properties leading to a phased strategy for the demolition of properties. Within this approach, we worked within specific parameters set forth by THDA for participation in the BEP. These limitations included focusing only on residential properties with 1 to 4 living units for demolition and subsequent greening and future redevelopment. The methodology created for this project can be applied for a variety of blight prioritization techniques and locations.

The full report with appendixes is available to read here.

Current Initiatives

The Memphis 10K Housing Plan

The plan seeks to create a development strategy for single-family urban infill housing in the City of Memphis. During the summer of 2017, the UMDC will continue to facilitate monthly steering committee meetings, submit the national best practices report, as well as continue to work on data and research for potential target areas. The current planning schedule estimates that by March of 2018, a legal entity will be planned to continue the work of this long-term initiative, along with the construction of a model test case. At the conclusion of this planning period, the UMDC will submit a final report on the Memphis 10K Housing Plan. For initiative informational slides click Here

Memphis 3.0 Comprehensive Plan - District Planning

The City of Memphis has recently begun the process of a comprehensive plan, which will be the first one since 1981. This process called Memphis 3.0 is being led by the Office of Comprehensive Planning (OCP) which is in the Division of Planning and Development (DPD) for the City of Memphis. Memphis 3.0 is structured around four basic pillars; Connectivity, Livability, Opportunity, and Sustainability. The comprehensive planning process officially began in late 2016. The UMDC was named as one of three local planning groups for the development of land use plans and community character manuals for the fourteen city-wide planning districts. The UMDC, in partnership with local architect and urban designer Ray Brown, will work with a national planning firm, Opticos, to develop district plans beginning in October and extending for 15 months.

MEMFix in Madison Heights

UMDC is participating in the 2017 MEMFix in Madison Heights at Cleveland and Madison. This year's MEMFix is in partnership with BLDG Memphis, Memphis Medical District Collaborative, ULI Memphis, and Urban Art Commission. The kick-off event and planning sessions were held July 10th & 11th.

ULI's national placemaking expert Juanita Hardy and Team Better Block (who did the project in Oak Cliff that inspired New Face for an Old Broad and subsequently MEMFix itself) are facilitating the visioning and design sessions. Design interventions and improvements will occur through the month of August and September, with the MEMFix block faire day scheduled for September 23 or 30, 2017.

Planning matters - lecture series

UMDC and ULI Memphis will plan and host a fall National Speaker Series focused on the Value of Comprehensive Planning as an initiative of our Culture of Planning and Implementation. UMDC and ULI Memphis are currently organizing our next events in the comprehensive planning speaker series scheduled to occur in September and November. We are finalizing the speaker selections and working on event planning.

Building Community Capacity through planning

UMDC and ULI Memphis will advance Building Community Capacity through Planning as an initiative of our Culture of Planning and Implementation initiative.

Building Community Capacity through Planning is hands-on community planning and development experience for public officials, community leaders, and students that will elevate the level of understanding and participation in the community planning process and in city-building activities throughout Memphis.

The program overview includes two primary strategies:

  1. Bring the Urban Land Institute's ULI UrbanPlan to Memphis and train local trainers, so we can support ourselves.
  2. Create & Offer "Planning 101": a simulated planning experience for adults and youth.