A new public greenspace concept, The Ravine, has received approval to move forward on development between Union and Madison Avenues in the Edge District of Downtown Memphis.
“Designed for community, recreation and artistry, the intentionally flexible destination seeks to engage every type of Memphian and visitor to our growing and vibrant Downtown,” said Ethan Knight, VP of Development for Development Services Group (DSG) and spokesperson for The Ravine.
The Ravine will feature distinct areas along its length to provide for unique experiences for all guests, including an active retail plaza, kid-friendly play structures with water features, flexible seating, an amphitheater-style performance venue, and festival/event spaces. Food and beverage components are being finalized to add to The Ravine’s atmosphere.
“The Edge District currently lacks a true public gathering point,” said Ethan Knight. “The Ravine will fill the void and set a national example by converting unused and largely unknown space into a public-private asset.”
The $5 million vision for The Ravine, led by real estate development firm DSG, will be broken out into multiple phases to both expedite the construction of the park’s fundamentals and incorporate stakeholders throughout the process. Micro-retail, restaurant concepts, performing art and public mural opportunities are among the concept elements that will program and position The Ravine as a vibrant and activated space.
“To date, the resurgence of the Edge District has been primarily focused on creating places for people to live and work. The Ravine is a currently underutilized space that can help fill the need for recreation and entertainment, while celebrating the unique character of the Edge,” said Owen Harris, senior associate of Dalhoff Thomas Design Studio, design partner for The Ravine.
“In any urban development, it’s crucial to give residents, employees, and visitors alike civic space to gather and interact throughout the day,” said Dean Thomas, principal of Dalhoff Thomas Design Studio. “The design for The Ravine provides this for users of all backgrounds and abilities through a diversity of experiences woven within: a relaxing greenspace for daily use, a lively retail plaza, opportunities for play, and an entertainment destination. We are extremely excited to bring this vision for the park to life.”
DSG submitted an application on behalf of PGK Properties, Inc. on December 7 to the DMC’s Center City Development Corporation affiliate board for a $400,000 incentive to match its $1.2 million contributions to complete The Ravine’s Phase I development. The $1.7 million budget for Phase I includes primarily hard construction and infrastructure costs. PGK Properties, Inc. is donating the 1.4 acres of land to the City of Memphis for The Ravine, valued at approximately $730,000.
“We are incredibly grateful to the Downtown Memphis Commission for both their vision and their investment,” said Knight. “Our revitalization of the Edge District is only possible thanks to their pioneering vision, as the declared The Edge a strategic focus for Downtown expansion almost a decade ago. That declaration is now bearing fruit in the form of significant development.”
DSG has invested significantly in the Downtown Memphis through its comprehensive $73 million mixed-use redevelopment of a 10-acre set of historic properties and parcels in the Edge District, including Orion Federal Credit Union and LEO Events’ new headquarters spaces. The Ravine is positioned within a block of the future commercial multifamily development, providing an urban oasis for medical residents and employees as well as visitors of existing Edge District establishments such as High Cotton Brewing Co. and Edge Alley.
“Orion is proud to be a part of the revitalization of the Edge District. We support the vision DSG’s team has put forward, and the Ravine will be a perfect addition to the live-work-play approach to the neighborhood,” stated Daniel Weickenand, Orion Federal Credit Union CEO.
The request was approved by the DMC’s CCDC board on the morning of December 19. Phase I, totaling $1.7 million, is anticipated to be completed in May 2019. All contracting will target to meet or exceed 25% MWBE participation.
“The Ravine bridges valuable assets in Downtown Memphis and will create a new destination for visitors, residents and employees in Downtown’s medical and edge districts,” said Jennifer Oswalt, President and CEO of the Downtown Memphis Commission. “We believe in the vision behind this project and in investing in connectivity throughout the CBID [Central Business Improvement District]. This is a prime example of a development that meets the DMC’s two-fold goal directly: to increase the volume of people engaging in activities in Downtown and to increase commercial property values across the CBID.”
DSG’s development in the Edge reflects its comprehensive mission is to revitalize historic spaces both in and out of the Memphis market.
“Through our investments and experience working in urban cores around the U.S., with recent projects in downtown Atlanta, downtown Tampa, downtown Houston, and downtown Fort Worth, we are learning firsthand what can work—and what can be improved—through every adaptive reuse opportunity,” said Gary Prosterman, DSG President & CEO. “We’re thrilled to bring that knowledge and experience to our hometown.”
“I’ve driven down Union and Madison on my daily commute for a long time,” continued Prosterman. “My view on the drive motivated me—because we collectively can do better.”
Phase II of The Ravine will include completion of all hardscaping; enhanced aesthetic lighting; seating; large performance stage and equipment; gateway arches, salvaged bakery silos, slides, and other smaller vertical features; and all remaining landscaping. This phase is expected to begin October 2019, to be completed early 2020. Phase III will include art components including custom-designed, interactive play structures, commissioned
“This project is the latest example of the transformation of a largely forgotten area of our city into what will be a surprising public space, rich in texture and experiences,” said Tommy Pacello, President of the Memphis Medical District Collaborative. “Ethan and his team are creatively blending private real estate investment with the public good. When combined, The Ravine and the redevelopment of adjacent buildings will better connect the Edge to the rest of the city while also creating a valuable public asset.”
Funding for future phasing of the $5 million project will be sought from local and national foundations, corporations, and individuals, requiring a substantial public-private partnership.