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City plans for revitalization of the Pinch District

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Community leaders say they’re making strides towards turning the Pinch District into a more attractive place for business owners, residents and tourists. A committee just finished it’s last of three public meetings to decide what the future of the area should hold.

Westy’s has sat without many neighbors on one corner for over three decades.

“I’m here, Ferraros is here, where is anybody else?" asked Westy's owner Jake Schorr. "Let’s make it an incentive to make it a happening place.”

Now city leaders are working to do just that. They’ve come up with a vision for revitalizing the Pinch District.

“Of all the different proposals, this by far is the best of the suggestions," said Schorr. "It’s the first time it’s beginning to make sense.”

The proposal focuses on keeping the historic character of the area while making it more connected to prominent places nearby, such as St. Jude, the Convention Center and Bass Pro.

“All of these important assets are surrounding the Pinch, so the revitalization of that area is important to ensure we have long term viability in the northern side of downtown,” said Paul Young, the director of Housing and Community Development.

They want to make the area more pedestrian friendly with retail shops on the bottom floors and housing or institutional uses on upper levels.

“So, a true mixed use design that will really match the character of that area,” said Young.

He says St. Jude owns about half of the properties in the Pinch and is on board with the idea.

MATA is also said to be working on bringing back trolleys.

“That link of putting the trolley back will make all the difference in the world for a place for people to go,” said Schorr.

Giving people a means of travel in an area they hope to see businesses booming.

There will be different strategies for re-developing Third Street, Overton Street and Main Street.

City leaders say they’re currently designing infrastructure, re-designing sewers and utilities to make this level of development possible. They hope to see some of these changes by next summer, with the entire plan complete within five years.