[In this week's Memphis Flyer, I wrote about Memphis' new outer loop, I-269. For the next few days, I'll be posting extra maps and graphics that go along with that story.]
For a presentation to the Memphis City Council, consultant John Lawrence prepared several maps that plotted retail development against highway construction.
"People can argue that [highway expansion] isn't the only reason [for sprawl], and that's true: crime, education, old homes — there are a million arguments," he said. "But there is no question that where people have moved and built has followed some type of road expansion."
In the paper, we showcased two of his maps, one from 1964 and one from 2009. But to see a more clear progression, all one has to do is view retail development in 10 year intervals.
This, understandably, might make some people nervous.
Alan Gumbel is the interim head of the Southeast Memphis CDC. He says that area of town stands "on a knife's edge" because of the new I-269 loop, and cites the new Norfolk Southern hub in Fayette County among his concerns.
The new intermodel hub, which will employ 400 people and was built in part to its proximity to I-269, will mean new warehouse space in Fayette County.
"In this case, development will move out of Shelby County and into Fayette County. You have to wonder what's going to happen with the warehouse space already here. ... Vacant warehouses don't provide tax revenue," he says.
Vacant buildings, if not maintained, can also contribute to blight and safety concerns.
"The people who are left in the neighborhood are those not able to move on," he says. "It creates a concentration of poverty in the neighborhood, and that's part of what's happened in Southeast Memphis. It's not white flight; it's economic flight."
I was particularly interested in this point and asked U of M grad student Dane Forlines if he would chart the migration of income. He, of course, could and did.
First, here's the key.