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Makeover for Airport area

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It's about time, imo:

http://www.commercialappeal.com/mca/busine...5278439,00.html

Makeover planned to improve business appeal of airport area

Photos by Mike Maple/The Commercial Appeal

Memphis city and business leaders are working on a plan to improve the area around Memphis International Airport, such as this spot on Brooks Road near Smith & Nephew corporate headquarters.

Doctors and researchers flying into the airport to visit the Smith & Nephew campus often must pass strip clubs, prostitutes and dilapidated structures along Brooks Road, an area that civic and business leaders admit is an embarrassment for the city.

By Amos Maki

Contact

January 14, 2007

When local law enforcement targeted the Black Tail Shake Joint on Brooks Road recently, alleging more than 30 incidents of prostitution and pornographic acts, officials at Smith & Nephew surely cheered.

Doctors and researchers from around the world often fly into town to visit Smith & Nephew's 35-acre campus near Memphis International Airport.

They are whisked by limousine to the high-tech, well-manicured facility on Brooks Road.

However, on their way to the facility they often must pass two strip clubs, prostitutes wandering up and down the street and an area in dire need of cleaning and redevelopment.

Now, business and civic leaders are openly saying what many Memphians have whispered for years, that the Airport/Brooks Road corridor -- home to the city's economic engine -- is an embarrassment and could even be an impediment to further growth.

In October, city chief financial officer Robert Lipscomb convened many of the city's division directors to begin working on the problem.

On Jan. 24, officials from the Memphis Regional Chamber, Smith & Nephew, Medtronic, FedEx, Pinnacle Airlines, Elvis Presley Enterprises and the Airport Authority, among others, will team with community and business organizations such as the Lamar Airways Business Association to begin formulating a comprehensive plan to improve the area around the airport.

"It's important to the more than 1,800 employees we have there and the surgeons that come there that we provide a world-class operation," said Victor Rocha, spokesman for Smith & Nephew. "The tide could be turning."

Johnson Controls Corp., a Fortune 100 firm that specializes in automotive interiors, building efficiency and power solutions, will lead one of its MetroMarkets Ideation Workshops, designed to help communities create strategies for sustainable economic development, on the area.

"You've got Smith & Nephew, Medtronic and the FedEx hub and they are all growing and prospering and yet the surrounding community isn't," said Eric Reisner, who will lead the session for Johnson Controls. "I view it as an opportunity for Memphis. We want to come away with a plan, with input from all the stakeholders, that can be executed."

The area that includes the airport, Brooks Road and Elvis Presley's Graceland is home to three key industries the city wants to grow: distribution and logistics, medical device manufacturing, and tourism and entertainment.

"That's our engine," said Lipscomb. "That's the airport. That's biotech. It's entertainment and residential. It's rare that a community has all those ingredients in one place. It's so important for the economic well-being of the community."

Memphis International Airport pumped $20.8 billion into the area economy in 2004 and supported one of every four area jobs, according to a study done by analysts at the Sparks Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Memphis. That includes $5.6 billion in payroll and 166,000 jobs generated by airport activities.

John Kasarda, director of the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise at the University of North Carolina and a main proponent of aerotropolises -- cities built around the economic power of airports -- said visitors to the city's airport may get a less-than-favorable impression of the city.

"My initial reaction to the area around (the airport) was that its aesthetics should be improved," he said. "The immediate airport area is a critical first-impression setter for many first-time visitors to Memphis.

"Major efforts, in particular, should also be made to have visually attractive corridors leading from the airport to the Downtown and to other key commercial and tourist nodes," said Kasarda. "Poor planning of the future Memphis aerotropolis could prevent the city and region from realizing the full potential that it offers to job creation, economic development and resident quality of life."

Larry Cox, chief executive of the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority, agrees.

"What goes on around the airport and how it looks has an impact," he said. "The airport and the area around it is the official front door to the community and region. If it doesn't look attractive and have the right environment, for the people who are visiting us or considering investing in the community, then we're all losers."

During a recent tour of Smith & Nephew's campus, City Council members were told that hotels and other businesses interested in the area have backed off because of the existing conditions.

Nearby Graceland brings an estimated 600,000 visitors to the area every year.

While the neighborhood around Graceland is middle- to upper-middle class, the drive from the airport to Graceland -- particularly along heavily traveled routes like Brooks and Elvis Presley -- is dotted with empty, outdated and decaying buildings.

When Robert F.X. Sillerman, who paid $100 million for an 85 percent stake in Elvis Presley Enterprises in late 2004, visited Memphis last year to tout his vision for an improved Graceland, he wanted assurances that the city would do its part to improve the area.

"It needs to be because we have around 600,000 people, for the most part getting off at the interstate at Brooks and Elvis Presley, making their way down to Graceland," said Jack Soden, president and CEO of EPE. "Every step of the way they have to be going, 'Surely we're lost.'

"A lot of them have this vision of Tara and they're coming down Elvis Presley Boulevard saying, 'It can't be here.' But, you know, Graceland tends to save the day."

EPE has been buying property along Elvis Presley Boulevard in anticipation of making millions of dollars worth of improvements to the area.

"We've got an ownership group with very deep pockets and significant intention to invest in the future of the Elvis legacy," said Soden. "If we make Graceland as big a draw as we think it can be, we are going to suffer if we don't control the doughnut of land around us."

Piecemeal efforts have been made to rehabilitate the area before, including a Brooks Road task force created by the Memphis Regional Chamber in 1998, but stakeholders said this could be the beginning of a sustained effort.

"We've been working and made some incremental benefits," said Dexter Muller, senior vice president for community development at the Chamber. "What we've realized is we've got to step it up a notch."

"We've got to have senior levels of leadership in business, the community and government of the same mind and committed," he said. "It's kind of like the Brooks Road task force on steroids."

-- Amos Maki: 529-2351

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I second that! About time! The airport/Graceland area is an embarrassment to the entire city. If they clean this area up, I think it'll also help the civic pride of the city since 1 in 4 jobs are linked to the airport, thus the airport area. I always thought the noise from the planes (on average 3 planes every 5 minutes) would deter airport area developments. Am I wrong?

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Noise definitely deters residential development, but nothing new has been zoned residential near the airport in years (Oakhaven/Whitehaven was residential long before the airport got big). Noise, especially with FedEx in town, does drive hotel placement as well. Otherwise, noise isn't a big deal to the distribution and other service industries in the area. The Nonconnah corporate center where FedEx, Medtronic, and Pinnacle have siginificant operations is clean, well-kept, and can be a model for other development near the airport.

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I totally agree this is the right move. But I wonder if Memphis has the will and the ability to pull it off. A model for Memphis should be the area around Chicago's O'hare. I believe it is an area called Rosemont. Some of the best restaurants in downtown Chicago are also located there near the airport. And the area has a lot of corporate development and hotels that cater to that. Also, look at Las Vegas and the area around there. It is right near the most heavily trafficed area . . . The Strip. So it can be done. But does Memphis have the vision and the community will to do what needs to be done? Will police go after the crime? Will developers invest? It would especially be needed if you had light rail stops along the way since those stops have to have a feeling of safty. It needs to be done. I hope it comes true. But somehow I have my doubts. Let's see how it turns out. It could be a story that is a flash in the pan that is quickly forgotten. Look at the Pyramid. All these years and still nothing. (It is a shame they did not turn it into the world class Aquarium called AquariMemphis as was envisioned). And you never hear about the Pyramid anymore. The local media should be pressing the government for the latest every day. Same for a lot of other things. I think the media should be pressed to keep stories like this plan for cleanup, Light Rail, The Pyramid, redevelopment of Broad Ave, One Beale, fighting crime, and all those other things in the news to pressure the government to keep on it. We should work to better our city and hear more about that. That is news. I could care less about national news. If I want to hear that story again I'll turn to national news coverage like CNN or NBC nightly. Local news should not focus on national events unless it directly affects Memphis. That is what we have national news for. We need news on our city and how to get things done. Not the repeated stories of murder or food health ratings or does it work. Those can be read on a website. We need to have a dialogue on how the city is going to grow and progress. That is news that affects us all.

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Trying to explain to people visiting Memphis that spending time around the Airport/Graceland area is a bad idea was always a humiliating thing to do. To see the reactions of people as they drove to or from said areas was quite depressing as well. Anything that improves the area is welcome, it's one of the least impressive and most readily seen parts of Memphis.

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I totally agree this is the right move. But I wonder if Memphis has the will and the ability to pull it off. A model for Memphis should be the area around Chicago's O'hare. I believe it is an area called Rosemont. Some of the best restaurants in downtown Chicago are also located there near the airport. And the area has a lot of corporate development and hotels that cater to that. Also, look at Las Vegas and the area around there. It is right near the most heavily trafficed area . . . The Strip. So it can be done. But does Memphis have the vision and the community will to do what needs to be done? Will police go after the crime? Will developers invest? It would especially be needed if you had light rail stops along the way since those stops have to have a feeling of safty. It needs to be done. I hope it comes true. But somehow I have my doubts. Let's see how it turns out. It could be a story that is a flash in the pan that is quickly forgotten. Look at the Pyramid. All these years and still nothing. (It is a shame they did not turn it into the world class Aquarium called AquariMemphis as was envisioned). And you never hear about the Pyramid anymore. The local media should be pressing the government for the latest every day. Same for a lot of other things. I think the media should be pressed to keep stories like this plan for cleanup, Light Rail, The Pyramid, redevelopment of Broad Ave, One Beale, fighting crime, and all those other things in the news to pressure the government to keep on it. We should work to better our city and hear more about that. That is news. I could care less about national news. If I want to hear that story again I'll turn to national news coverage like CNN or NBC nightly. Local news should not focus on national events unless it directly affects Memphis. That is what we have national news for. We need news on our city and how to get things done. Not the repeated stories of murder or food health ratings or does it work. Those can be read on a website. We need to have a dialogue on how the city is going to grow and progress. That is news that affects us all.

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I totally agree this is the right move. But I wonder if Memphis has the will and the ability to pull it off. A model for Memphis should be the area around Chicago's O'hare. I believe it is an area called Rosemont.

...

But somehow I have my doubts. Let's see how it turns out. It could be a story that is a flash in the pan that is quickly forgotten. Look at the Pyramid. All these years and still nothing. (It is a shame they did not turn it into the world class Aquarium called AquariMemphis as was envisioned). And you never hear about the Pyramid anymore.

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Just joined these boards after stumbing upon them. Great boards! I am very glad to see that there are others interested in seeing the revival of the airport/whitehaven area. I think that the Graceland area (from Brooks Road to Graceland) is going to boom and really change in the coming years.

They need to also put more crosswalks and sidewalks and lower the speed limit to like 25MPH in that area and run the powerlines underground. The major problem along Winchester is the apartments along Millbranch

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Just joined these boards after stumbing upon them. Great boards! I am very glad to see that there are others interested in seeing the revival of the airport/whitehaven area. I think that the Graceland area (from Brooks Road to Graceland) is going to boom and really change in the coming years.

They need to also put more crosswalks and sidewalks and lower the speed limit to like 25MPH in that area and run the powerlines underground. The major problem along Winchester is the apartments along Millbranch

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fixing up Brooks Road corridor is a waste of resources.....those companies could have built there facilities anywhere else in the MSA ! it's been a blighted area for at least 30 years.....NOBODY wants to drive through there !! it's a friggen industrial site ! even the smaller office area near the old MS Carriers (Swift) doesn't attract many lessors ....it's a DUMP

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fixing up Brooks Road corridor is a waste of resources.....those companies could have built there facilities anywhere else in the MSA ! it's been a blighted area for at least 30 years.....NOBODY wants to drive through there !! it's a friggen industrial site ! even the smaller office area near the old MS Carriers (Swift) doesn't attract many lessors ....it's a DUMP

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The salient point is that for about thirty (30) years, the area has had no redeemable qualities. Most areas around international airports in the US are not used for the same purposes as a DT area (such as class A office space for muti-national corporations).

If those large, and profitibale corporations are silly enough to place corporate offices (non-manufacturing) in those areas surrounded by logistic or airport/support operations, then perhaps they made a poor business decision.

Land use considerations are paramount in urban planning....so is a thing called 'suitability'. No lucid and sober planner or developer would place a 4 or 5 star hotel and restaurant in a ghetto......notwithstanding FIRST having in place a cogent, funded, and massive PLAN for revitalization......to do less is assbackwards.....which is what is clearly evident to any rational observer.

Frankly, I'm very glad that I don't interact very much in that sort of Memphis milieu (of thought) anymore.

Memphis should get better teachers, and fund the schools, and perhaps be less covertly and slyly contributing to white flight and racist attitudes, which seem to keep Memphis mired in ignorance and a deserved, convoluted inferiority complex.

ON THE BEACH

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These people are trying to make the most of what is around them. Why settle? I'm sure (or I guess I HOPE) you don't settle and always look for areas you can improve the community you live in, and I HOPE you just don't abandon things that can be improved. I guess we are living in a highly disposable age, but still . . .

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The salient point is that for about thirty (30) years, the area has had no redeemable qualities. Most areas around international airports in the US are not used for the same purposes as a DT area (such as class A office space for muti-national corporations).

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The time for thoughtful renovation of the airport/Brooks/Whitehaven area was years past, prior to 'white flight'.

Given the tenor of sly and calulated racism in Memphis, it seems unlikely that this enabled trend is reverseable in this particular area.

Many non-black residents fled Whitehaven for Hickory Hill, east towards Ridgeway....and the trek was purposefully and profitably enabled by the 'block-busting' techniques employed by a major real estate firm named Crye Leike....in fact the federal government had been silently looking into their techniques in Memphis for years. Futhermore it was aided by banks such as Union Planters National, and National Bank of Commerce which was guilty of 'redlining' without a doubt.

Clearly the 'salvation' of this area does not rest it in becoming a booming residential area.......the 'good ole Memphis, TN white folks' that were once there, are now GONE. Once that happens (given the sometimes sneaky, racist attitudes prevalent in the Memphis MSA,) the term 'revitalization' takes on a quite different connotation.

The urgency to 'revitalize' seems to pop-up when the area is an alleged embarassment to Memphis corporate cultural ethos, not when it affects the non-white families that still live in that area. The focus and concern does not seem to be on the things that truly affect the lives of ordinary, long-time Memphis citizens (e.g. education, infrastructure, job training, and yes, even getting better air carrier service thus more competitive rates for people who travel there, or connect at the gloriously average airport).

Memphis does not seem to 'scratch where it's itching', but that's not a revelation....I saw it daily.

The concern about a city, any city, starts with actions that are good for people......at the most basic, human level. A city is not any "bigger" than how people treat other people............in that regard, I, for one have witnessed one of the most bifurcated business, cultural, economic and social environments imaginable.

Memphis, TN seems so busy 'running away' from 'non-whites', sooner or later Memphis suburbs will be the outskirts of Jackson, TN.

Therein lies Memphis' psychology, hence its problem of its own making. Memphis' problem is not with attracting business investment. It seems sophomoric to even consider that.

ON THE BEACH

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The time for thoughtful renovation of the airport/Brooks/Whitehaven area was years past, prior to 'white flight'.

Given the tenor of sly and calulated racism in Memphis, it seems unlikely that this enabled trend is reverseable in this particular area.

Many non-black residents fled Whitehaven for Hickory Hill, east towards Ridgeway....and the trek was purposefully and profitably enabled by the 'block-busting' techniques employed by a major real estate firm named Crye Leike....in fact the federal government had been silently looking into their techniques in Memphis for years. Futhermore it was aided by banks such as Union Planters National, and National Bank of Commerce which was guilty of 'redlining' without a doubt.

Clearly the 'salvation' of this area does not rest it in becoming a booming residential area.......the 'good ole Memphis, TN white folks' that were once there, are now GONE. Once that happens (given the sometimes sneaky, racist attitudes prevalent in the Memphis MSA,) the term 'revitalization' takes on a quite different connotation.

The urgency to 'revitalize' seems to pop-up when the area is an alleged embarassment to Memphis corporate cultural ethos, not when it affects the non-white families that still live in that area. The focus and concern does not seem to be on the things that truly affect the lives of ordinary, long-time Memphis citizens (e.g. education, infrastructure, job training, and yes, even getting better air carrier service thus more competitive rates for people who travel there, or connect at the gloriously average airport).

Memphis does not seem to 'scratch where it's itching', but that's not a revelation....I saw it daily.

The concern about a city, any city, starts with actions that are good for people......at the most basic, human level. A city is not any "bigger" than how people treat other people............in that regard, I, for one have witnessed one of the most bifurcated business, cultural, economic and social environments imaginable.

Memphis, TN seems so busy 'running away' from 'non-whites', sooner or later Memphis suburbs will be the outskirts of Jackson, TN.

Therein lies Memphis' psychology, hence its problem of its own making. Memphis' problem is not with attracting business investment. It seems sophomoric to even consider that.

ON THE BEACH

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Funny, tennreb, I was going to ask the very same question.

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The time for thoughtful renovation of the airport/Brooks/Whitehaven area was years past, prior to 'white flight'.

Given the tenor of sly and calulated racism in Memphis, it seems unlikely that this enabled trend is reverseable in this particular area.

Many non-black residents fled Whitehaven for Hickory Hill, east towards Ridgeway....and the trek was purposefully and profitably enabled by the 'block-busting' techniques employed by a major real estate firm named Crye Leike....in fact the federal government had been silently looking into their techniques in Memphis for years. Futhermore it was aided by banks such as Union Planters National, and National Bank of Commerce which was guilty of 'redlining' without a doubt.

Clearly the 'salvation' of this area does not rest it in becoming a booming residential area.......the 'good ole Memphis, TN white folks' that were once there, are now GONE. Once that happens (given the sometimes sneaky, racist attitudes prevalent in the Memphis MSA,) the term 'revitalization' takes on a quite different connotation.

The urgency to 'revitalize' seems to pop-up when the area is an alleged embarassment to Memphis corporate cultural ethos, not when it affects the non-white families that still live in that area. The focus and concern does not seem to be on the things that truly affect the lives of ordinary, long-time Memphis citizens (e.g. education, infrastructure, job training, and yes, even getting better air carrier service thus more competitive rates for people who travel there, or connect at the gloriously average airport).

Memphis does not seem to 'scratch where it's itching', but that's not a revelation....I saw it daily.

The concern about a city, any city, starts with actions that are good for people......at the most basic, human level. A city is not any "bigger" than how people treat other people............in that regard, I, for one have witnessed one of the most bifurcated business, cultural, economic and social environments imaginable.

Memphis, TN seems so busy 'running away' from 'non-whites', sooner or later Memphis suburbs will be the outskirts of Jackson, TN.

Therein lies Memphis' psychology, hence its problem of its own making. Memphis' problem is not with attracting business investment. It seems sophomoric to even consider that.

ON THE BEACH

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So you abandoned Memphis and now live in a white community in Florida?

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I think this guy is confused, and now he is digging a hole.

Take some advice from this 'good ole boy' and shutup. :shades:

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fixing up Brooks Road corridor is a waste of resources.....those companies could have built there facilities anywhere else in the MSA ! it's been a blighted area for at least 30 years.....NOBODY wants to drive through there !! it's a friggen industrial site ! even the smaller office area near the old MS Carriers (Swift) doesn't attract many lessors ....it's a DUMP

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Actually, it has not been blighted for at least 30 years. Medtronic, Smith and Nephew, and numerous other companies continue to HEAVILY expand in the area. Furthermore, FedEx has a large corporate presence in the area. All of this combined has led to analysts at UNC-Chapel Hill to designate MEM as the best example of an aerotropolis in the US in that it has an airport with a large business presence in the surrounding area. This doesn't seem too blighted to me. It certainly stands to be spruced up and worked on, but it is nowhere near a state of just being written off. Furthermore, I find it funny that in one post you claim that Memphis is horrible because of its white flight attitude of running for problematic/minority neighborhoods and then in this one you apparently feel that it is fine to just abandon the area and run away. Take a stand, buddy, and also stop with your tirade against Memphis. There's an attitude sale going on at Target. I suggest you go find yourself a new one.

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what's with the personal attack ??

My opinions or 'stand' (as you call it) need not be endorsed by you, et al....and I am not seeking your 'guidance' or 'permission'.....that's just WAY too odd.

You sound a little 'unreconstructed', and a little 'hell no I ain't fergittin'.....a little unnecessarily 'angry'....

"stop with your tirade against Memphis" ??????????? yawSuh bossMan ........(I trust you were simply making a joke, otherwise that's too silly for me)

I guess what you don't 'like', you must first attempt to discredit....personally I don't even care about your opinions because you are entitled to them

ON THE BEACH

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