A national revitalization program has awarded Memphis a $5 million grant to assist with the city's Fourth Bluff Project.
Reimagining the Civic Commons, led by four national foundations, will help Memphis' leaders transform four blocks of downtown property that include the longstanding Cossit Library, Memphis Park, and Mississippi Park. Memphis' founders deeded these properties, contained within a larger area named The Promenade, for public use. They exist now, however, mostly as ghost towns and sleeping spaces for the homeless.
"This part of downtown is the missing piece that would link nodes of activity to the north (Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid) and south (Tom Lee Park, Beale Street, Main Street)," Maria Fuhrmann, the project's lead organizer in Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland's office, told The Flyer
in April. "The Cossitt Library and the two riverfront parks are sometimes forgotten despite the fact that they have great potential."
The grant, matched by local private and public sources, allows Memphis to revitalize these locations with signage, events, public art, and enhanced connectivity for residents currently sequestered in their neighborhoods.
"The Mississippi River was Memphis' first great place and our riverfront has always been a vital part of our economy and culture," Fuhrmann said.
A partnership between The JPB Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, and The Rockefeller Foundation, The Commons Project also awarded Akron, Ohio, Chicago, Illinois, and Detroit, Michigan. The total national investment amounts to $40 million.
"We're honored to have been selected and to join this cohort of great cities," Mayor Strickland said. "Creating opportunity in a civic commons for people to share experiences with people different from themselves grows a sense of community, engagement, and understanding between all of us."
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