In 2010, merchants and residents along the struggling Broad Avenue commercial corridor decided to take matters into their own hands.
They partnered with the non-profit BLDG Memphis to set into motion a neighborhood revitalization plan that had been sitting idle for some years. Inspired by the Better Block project, neighborhood activists created, “A New Face for an Old Broad.”
This three-block streetscape exhibition implemented protected bike lanes, crosswalks, pedestrian refuge areas, pop-up shops, food vendors, and activities for visitors of all ages. With a small investment, the project showed the community the Broad Avenue Arts District’s potential. Since then, Broad Avenue has seen over $20 million in investments and the opening of 28 new businesses.
Adopted as an initiative of the Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team, this approach became officially branded as “MEMFix.” Today, MEMFix aims to see how Memphians – in partnership with local government – can transform their neighborhoods. Citizens, community organizations, and city administrators have recreated similar events in four Memphis neighborhoods to-date – The Broad Avenue Arts District, The Edge District, Crosstown Concourse, and The Pinch District.
BLDG Memphis hosts MEMFix. BLDG Memphis is a coalition of organizations and individuals who support the equitable redevelopment of healthy, vibrant, attractive, and economically sustainable neighborhoods throughout Memphis. At the core, BLDG Memphis is a membership organization specifically designed to support community development corporations (CDCs) as they invest in and drive further investment into disinvested neighborhoods.
BLDG Memphis has robust programming that assesses CDC member capacity, provides workshops and consultations (using staff and external experts), and convenes peer learning sessions – all designed to increase CDC capacity. BLDG Memphis offers seven types of programming – Technical Assistance for members, Trainings/Workshops, Capacity Assessment Tool (CAT), Leadership Capacity-building Scholarships, New City Builders, Civic Forums, and convening collaborative tables. BLDG Memphis drives investments in Memphis neighborhoods through building capacity in members, public policy, and civic engagement.
There are seven MEMFix projects slated for 2023 in the neighborhoods of Alcy Ball, Frayser, Whitehaven, The Heights, Orange Mound, Klondike Smokey City, and South City. Each of these projects will be spearheaded by Community Development Corporations (CDCs) that are invested in those neighborhoods.
The CDCs are Alcy Ball Community Development Corporation, Frayser Community Development Corporation, Greater Whitehaven Economic Redevelopment Corporation, Heights Community Development Corporation, Kingdom Community Builders, Klondike Smokey City Community Development Corporation, and South City Opportunity Revitalization Empowerment Community Development Corporation.
As MEMFix has evolved, the rubric has become an approach known as “Tactical Urbanism.” This essentially means taking a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) approach. Tactical Urbanism methods typically involve community members working alone or as a team to bring attention to overlooked spaces, address neighborhood issues, or demonstrate things they want changed or improved within a public, or sometimes private, space.
This approach features the following five characteristics: