Steps Being Taken to Improve Area Northwest of Airport
With a community-wide focus on developing Memphis as America's Aerotropolis, local business leaders realized the need to improve the area immediately to the northwest of the airport along the Brooks Road corridor. The result was the Memphis Airport Area Development Corporation (MAADC), a group of local leaders dedicated to improving the area. Since the appointment of John Lawrence as Executive Director last November, the area bordered by the airport on the east, U.S. 61 on the west and East Raines on the south has started a revitalization project with a strong focus on recruiting new business to the area.
The MAADC has four goals: To transform the airport area into an attractive and inspiring gateway to Memphis; develop the area into a recognized business catalyst for the region; establish the area as a tourist and visitor destination; and create a diverse neighborhood with exemplary services. To help achieve these goals, the MAADC will start a master planning process later this year to help map out the future development of the Brooks Rd. corridor. The master plan will help the area grow strategically, not in the haphazard merging of neighborhoods, industrial warehouses and office complexes that now exist. The master plan process will help forge a unified identity for the area, which will provide a sense of pride and belonging.
There is huge untapped economic potential in the area. There is not enough retail and restaurant capacity in the gateway area to serve the needs of residents, businesses and tourists. As a result, they tend to travel to DeSoto County. Lawrence is hard at work identifying potential sites for restaurants and retailers, and is actively recruiting new restaurants into the area. He is also working on a public safety program with local police and private security firms.
The future of the area is already looking brighter. Bellbrook Industrial Park has undergone an intensive renovation process and has seen park occupancy increase over the last year by 10 percent to 78 percent. MATA plans to build an intermodal terminal in the area which will serve as a transfer stop for city buses, and Greyhound. The terminal will be built for potential light rail use as well. Lawrence believes that by the end of 2008, people will start to see a difference in the area because of new construction projects, real estate development and possibly a few new businesses.
Bellbrook Industrial Park has seen an increase in its occupancy since it underwent renovation.