Advisory Services Panel — Jackson, Tennessee


Date: August 2-7, 2003
Location: Jackson, Tennessee
Chair: Alex J. Rose
Subject Area: Disaster Recovery, Economic Development, Sustainable Development

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The Assignment
On the evening of May 4, 2003, Jackson, Tennessee was hit by a series of tornadoes that changed the face of the city forever. The storms everely damaged downtown and the East Jackson neighborhood, destroying millions of dollars worth of property and displacing hundreds of people from their homes and offices. But the people of Jackson saw this as an opportunity to rebuild their city, to create a city that will be even better than the one in which they lived and worked on May 3. They have proactively pursued grants and other sources of funding, and asked ULI to convene an Advisory Services panel to address redevelopment opportunities for the downtown and East Jackson neighborhoods.

This report discusses a host of opportunities from which the city can choose to remedy past neglect and return vibrancy to these areas. These include opportunities in housing; retail and dining establishments; the arts, entertainment, and culture; civic and institutional activities; recreational and park space; historic preservation; and infrastructure improvements.

The ULI Panel suggests that the city of Jackson:

  • Devise an immediate plan for the East Jackson community to achieve the following goals: Replace approximately 86 single-family residential units; Provide a total of 334 multifamily units; Provide approximately 144,000 square feet of convenience retail space; and Guide and assist property owners in repairing or replacing 2,300 damaged or otherwise adversely affected properties.
  • Evaluate severely damaged houses or apartments and determine whether they should either be demolished and the land acquired by the city or repaired. The city should assist by all means available homeowners whose houses can be retained in the existing housing stock and who can and will repair them and return them to occupancy. In addition, the city should use money available from various sources to pursue a strategy of either or both, consolidating a sufficient amount of contiguous parcels to land bank for future redevelopment as a new subdivision or acquiring parcels interspersed among existing houses to be held for future scattered-site housing development.
  • The adaptive use and redevelopment of East Jackson and downtown can be implemented by redeveloping historic East Main Street and linking it to the downtown core to the west and the future linear park in the flood zone to the east. The city should value East Main Street as a gateway from downtown to East Jackson’s residences, and from East Jackson back into downtown. This street is a “corridor of history” immediately adjacent to downtown that showcases some of the finest historic houses of different styles that can be seen on any block, anywhere. A linear park would act as a catalyst for housing, recreational, and other appropriate investments along the park’s edge.
  • To reinforce downtown’s strong east/west orientation, the city must establish distinctive districts on both the east and west sides of downtown. On the east side, the library and the Ned R. McWherter West Tennessee Cultural Arts Center (the Ned) should serve as the foundation for an Arts and Cultural District. On the west side, the panel recommends the construction of a 16-screen movie theater complex, plus associated restaurants and retail space totaling 200,000 rentable square feet. A 2,000-seat outdoor amphitheater also should be built in this area. These two facilities could become the heart of an Entertainment District.
  • Articulate districts through the use of right-of-way enhancements including wayfinding elements, accent pavers, banners, and public furniture in downtown Jackson to establish a district of historic urban quality. These public investments, however, should be coupled with public incentives for private redevelopment efforts to refurbish and rehabilitate private parcel, to create an experience that is greater than either the public or private sector alone could offer.

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