West Memphis set to unveil ‘Grow 2040’ plan
Initiative calls on leadership from all around the community to get involved in effort to reinvigorate the city
West Memphis has taken a big “selfie,” and the results are about to be unveiled. City Planning and Development Director Paul Luker and Economic Development Executive Director Phillip Sorrell reviewed the second to the last draft of the city’s new comprehensive growth plan called Grow 2040.
The community gets a look at the latest plan this week and final comments help polish off the last draft.
A big focus group representing a cross section of the community has been meeting over the last year taking a big picture look of the city and one key theme emerged from every sector of the city – potential.
Citizens representing business, education and other community interests examined the city’s strengths and weaknesses with Robert Barber and Orion Planning and Design consultants which built off the focus group’s vision.
The results highlighted a vast untapped potential for future growth of the city as a mobility network hub, with extensive river, road and rail running already in place, and room for expansion.
“Grow 2040 is a strategy and a path to walk down,” said Barber. “When marketing parts of the city you aren’t marketing ifs and maybes; now you will be marketing a specific vision.”
The group divided the city into four sections, named them, and conducted detailed planning aimed at developing the potential in each area.”
The Big River Trail area headed the list including Martin Luther King Drive at East Broadway. The city is eying the intersection for a new fire station and was seen as a connecting point for cycle and pedestrian traffic from the Big River Crossing into a future revitalization of the pathway through the city along Ten Mile Bayou. Planners hope for refreshment and entertainment places to attract eco-tourists trekking the trail or peddling over the river from Memphis. The amenities would become a lure for upscale housing for the short commute to downtown Memphis.
Uptown was defined as the area north of the interstate Interchange including the big development bonanzas of Southland Casino and Baptist Memorial Hospital Crittenden. Those two construction projects combined will bring nearly $300 million to the city over a four year span along with 400 new jobs. Hotel development including the Tru Inn being built along with the new LaQuinta and Holiday Inn Express represent growth in city sales and tourism taxes. Planners have targeted national restaurant chains to satisfy dining needs of travelers and locals alike. A new Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram dealership announced plans for an uptown location last month.
The College Park section of town is anchored on West Broadway at ASU – Mid South Community College, the West Memphis Airport and Tilden Rodgers Park. Expansion plans already on the drawing board at the park included a splash pad, a new boardwalk bridge, and upgraded softball amenities to attract tournament tourists.
The Broadway district centered on the East 500 block. Hopes for the new water tower sculpture and city library investments deliver amenities to spark revitalization for main street businesses and neighborhood housing in-fill and remodeling nearby.
With places identified, types of future use followed for neighborhoods, connecting corridors like Broadway, Missouri and the Interstate gateway. The group projected future uses for institutional areas like schools and the college, and the medical mile on seventh street from the hospital to the health department. Recreation areas include new Amenities at Horton Park, the Big River Park, and Tilden Rodgers.
The working character of employment areas, river front were assessed.
Sorrell talked about implementing the plan. He expected public investment in amenities to draw new residents and businesses to the city.
“Public investment dollars that go into these areas to help transform them,” said Sorrell, “like the library and schools – everything we can to do help those areas to upgrade, in public infrastructure like streets.
Those things start to become catalysts.”
City administration planned to unify citizens around the goals with an annual festival and a focus on cleaning up the town through litter days and code enforcement.
A public input meeting was schedule to see the 20 year plan and seek one last round of public input.
The community forum will be at ASU-Mid South on the north campus in the Jeremy Jacobs Hospitality Center, 2005 W. Broadway, Tuesday March 19 from 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Interactive exhibits and renderings will be set up along with interaction from city administration and the Orion Planning and Design Group.