Is eliminating blight the same as creating revitalization? Memphis will find out.

In March of 2016, Memphis, Tennessee got its best weapon yet to fight its blight crisis.

Officials from federal, state and local governments joined Thursday for a summit with leaders from the city’s business, nonprofit, grassroots and legal sectors to forge and unveil that new weapon — the Memphis Neighborhood Blight Elimination Charter.

While other major American cities have adopted blight elimination plans and frameworks, Memphis will still be the first city to adopt a comprehensive neighborhood blight elimination charter,” says attorney Steve Barlow of Neighborhood Preservation Inc. (NPI), the nonprofit agency spearheading the charter process. “The release of this document is the culminating event of a very carefully executed process of coordination of all involved in blight abatement actions – and we are proud to announce that we finally have everyone on the same page going forward.

Blight elimination was a major plank in Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland’s election platform last year. A member of his administration told blight charter steering committee members last month that their document will direct the mayor’s plans to fight blight here.

We are committed to doing our part in reversing this downward spiral of dereliction. The Neighborhood Blight Elimination Charter establishes a common vision and sets in motion a coordinated process for everyone to do their part,” Strickland said.

Note from Storm: I certainly congratulate Memphis on this excellent initiative. My only caution would be the point out that blight elimination is merely a tactic, not a revitalization strategy. Too many places are still using the bankrupt psychology of the urban renewal debacle that devastated so many cities in the mid-20th century: “Destroy it and they will come“.
For more on revitalization strategies, read this Resilience Success Guide.

Photo of Hernando de Soto Bridge in Memphis via Adobe Stock Photos.

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