The City of Memphis has announced that the Fourth Bluff Project was awarded a $5 million matching grant from the Civic Commons.
Reimagining the Civic Commons is a partnership of four national foundations (the JPB Foundation, the Knight Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation) seeking to foster civic engagement, economic opportunity and environmental sustainability through revitalizing and connecting parks, libraries, community centers, and other public spaces.
The Memphis project is focused on four blocks of property in the heart of downtown within a larger area called the Promenade, deeded in perpetuity for public use by the city’s founders. “The Fourth Bluff,” a portion of this Promenade, sits along the Fourth Chickasaw Bluff, the last in a series of high bluffs along the lower Mississippi River in West Tennessee. The assets include Cossitt Library, University of Memphis Law School promenade, and the Memphis and Mississippi River Parks.
Local leaders will gather lessons and data that can be applied to other public spaces in Memphis. The project bridges fragmented pedestrian connections that separate cultural assets and the riverfront and addresses negative public perceptions through reinvestment and community partnerships. As a city with a rich history that still struggles with racial segregation, Memphis seeks to design and create common spaces where the diverse population can come together and shape the future of the city.
Memphis was one of four cities selected for this matching grant; the others are Akron, Chicago, and Detroit. The $5 million grant for Memphis will be matched by local private and public sources.
The Mississippi River was Memphis’ first great place and our riverfront has always been a vital part of our economy and culture,” said Maria Fuhrmann, City of Memphis Grants Coordinator and a member of the Memphis Civic Commons team.
Things to know:
- The Fourth Bluff project will activate these assets over the next three years with a variety of events, activities, prototypes, enhanced connectivity, signage, and public art.
- Reimagining the Civic Commons is a partnership among four national foundations—The JPB Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Kresge Foundation and The Rockefeller Foundation—and Memphis leaders, including the Memphis Reimagining the Civic Commons team. The total national investment in the civic commons by the national funders and local funds in each city total $40 million.
- The plan will use art, entertainment, the natural environment and education as catalysts to renew a cross-cultural connection to the Mississippi Riverfront.
- As part of this grant the Memphis team will participate in the national Civic Commons Learning Network, which will host cross-city learning opportunities, provide tools, and grow the resources needed to reknit communities across the country through investments in public spaces.