Remembering the Marketplace of the Midsouth

Memphis Dream Center

The following was posted as a comment on Steven1626's photo web site on the Mall. Many of the pictures used on this site are credited to him. This effort did not receive any support from goverment, news media or other leaders. It does show that people were looking at the mall as an asset, rather than something to be demolished.

Mall of Memphis Photo Album

'' The Mall of Memphis always competed with the nearby Hickory Ridge Mall but that mall was in a newer more affluent yet harder to reach area. It may not be far from suffering the same fate as the Mall of Memphis, but with a few new perspectives it could be saved.

A little further away is a nice but more expensive mall called Oak Court Mall with mostly specialty shops on a highly congested street people like to avoid when possible. Then all three malls were hurt by the newest mall Wolfchase Galleria built in the new center of Memphis a few years ago. But that is on the northeast loop of Memphis, Cordova, and Bartlett. But this is not all about another mall on the newest edge of the city. People are too busy and poor to drive across town to shop all the time for no good reason but Southaven MS, Whitehaven, and the southern loop of Memphis still have no replacement mall. So they are obviously shopping somewhere besides the malls.

I feel like it is only fair to look deeper at why it is gone. For instance, Federal Express moved a huge amount of its offices out to Collierville. All those thousands of people used to shop at the mall daily on lunch breaks. And it seems like the interstate that used to bring people to the Mall has been congested for years now with construction that has seemed to take way too many years to complete so people have avoided trying to get on or off that exit for a long time. So perhaps it wasn't just a mall or heavy crime that bled the Mall of Memphis dry, but a migration...residential, commercial, medical, and traffic.

I also believe the whole mall shopping concept is fading from central Memphis because so many Memphians cannot afford to shop in the stores typically found there. Average folks really hate traffic too and long walks from overextended parking lots in rising crime areas of town with little security. So if the area surrounding the mall is full of alternate strip malls and discount stores like Walmart, Kmart, and Target, especially with all the SUPER versions now, and don't forget Costco and Sam's Wholesale Clubs. Memphis has a long history of large numbers of average to low income residents but the thousands falling below the poverty line is increasing every year, especially since the wars and 9/11 attack. National statistics show that Memphis has become one of the poorest major cities and the least healthy metropolitan area in the nation and we have also become the least inviting city for creative and inventive people to consider moving to.

But the good news is that we have become aware of this at the leadership level, not all the way down yet, but Memphis leaders are listening and responding with marketing ideas and re-thinking development cause and effect issues. For the last several years, to offset the northeast migration, the city obtained and distributed grants to encourage downtown revitalization. There has been major rennovation going on downtown to draw people back down there - mostly for tourism and business though. So while Downtown and Wolfchase were battling for residents and retailers, the centralized Mall of Memphis lost to both and the ongoing road construction surrounding them, which destroyed its one remaining strength. Extensive market research done in the late eighties revealed this migration taking flight and forecasted that the central hub of the Greater Memphis Area would shift from Midtown and East Memphis to the I-40/I-240 interchange by 1995 which indeed was true.

There was an explosion of residential development throughout east Bartlett and Cordova and sure enough the study's findings rang true. The entire north leg of Germantown Parkway also bloomed with commercial development from the city of Germantown itself to Highway 64 (Stage Rd). And the apex shopping haven for the whole area is right there from the Wolfchase Mall to all the many plazas, strip malls, restaurants, and Walmart, Sam's, hotels, and two movie theatres landed, as well as Guitar Center, home of the Musician's Friend (world's largest musical equipment catalog). Even the historical Baptist Memorial Hospital took up its downtown roots and moved completely to Walnut Grove at I-240 where it is practically its own city now. So there is far more than a mall out east and bad crime to blame for the loss of the Mall of Memphis.

Having provided all this background and viewpoint, I am spearheading a new campaign to convert the Mall of Memphis into the Memphis Dream Center. We have launched a new faith-based 501(c)3 non-profit organization called Rebourne Strategies, Inc. which would organize the gathering together of like-minded individuals, non-profit hunger, disaster, crisis relief organizations, churches, businesses, community compassion, recreational, and entertainment programs, and a vocational technical training center for reform into one location for one purpose, to serve, feed, house, educate, and reform those in need, in transition, in the streets, in crisis, in addictions, and in prison release or welfare to work programs.

We invite your participation, support, and comments. You may post them here, or on these public forums, or contact me directly per the information below.

Thank you, Holly Simmers Director/CEO Rebourne Strategies, Inc. 1102 Llano Cove Memphis, TN 38134-7908 (901)388-2988''

Rebourne Strategies, Inc. Re-engineering Our World... One Perspective at aTime Memphis Dream Center Holly Simmers December 13, 2003

Updated and Related 1. NDPlex 2. Hickory Ridge Mall Helping Memphis Dare to Dream and Empower new Realities In August 2002, we began working with the faith based community, government, businesses, and charitable organizations to plan and bring about real change in the Greater Memphis Area. Inspired by successful Dream Centers (websites below) in Oklahoma, California, and Louisiana, the GCN Memphis Leadership Team began forming relationships and laying foundational plans for launching a full-scale Memphis Dream Center by April 2005. Dream Centers are much like a collection of counseling and training centers, supply houses, health care facilities, shelters, and an information exchange or SafeHouse, all in one centralized location. It is a place where people can come for immediate help AND receive the training and resources to make long term change in their lives and the community. They operate as non-profit organizations in partnership with local and national business sponsors, and are funded in part by federal and local grants and private foundations to provide FREE or low cost services and supplies to the community in need. In December 2002, my husband and I drove by the Mall of Memphis and envisioned The Dream Center there. Restoring its original concept but with the added dimension of being a provision to the poor, and a job opportunity for the restored. Now, a year later it is closing on Christmas Eve. Restoration of this abandoned treasure into a Memphis Dream Center would be a parallel in itself, a tribute to those it would serve to restore. The Memphis Dream Center would welcome new and existing entities throughout the area who provide hunger relief, emergency supplies, health care, counseling, shelter, childcare, job, financial management, and life skills training. This free or low cost assistance would be provided to the homeless, unwed mothers, abused women & children, welfare to work & prison to community re-entry programs, and anyone seeking rehabilitation from criminal and addictive lifestyles. It would include a training center for vocational and technical skills, family enrichment and life skills, creative and performing arts, and an intern program within the facility first when possible and then outside the center in partnering businesses and entertainment industry to help them slowly launch stable, permanent, fruitful careers. Throughout 2003 we proceeded to form a compassion outreach alliance of like-minded peopel compelled to work together to make this first dream a reality. These strong relationships are formed around Faith-based initiatives in urban development, family enrichment, and the advancement of creative arts and sciences used to positively impact our community. This alliance of volunteers and officers is off to a great start with residents and organizations from Bartlett, Cordova, Arlington, Germantown, Collierville, Hickory Hill, Southaven, Olive Branch, Horn Lake, Hernando, Whitehaven, Binghampton, Midtown, Downtown, Millington, East Memphis and Raleigh. A diverse group of people from various backgrounds, educational, and income levels are gathering ideas and resources together to restore Memphis on emotional, spiritual, physical, educational, and economic levels. If you have an interest in being part of this group, developing new strategies for the restoration of Memphis contact Holly Simmers to discuss how YOU CAN GET INVOLVED. Even though we could not save the Mall of Memphis for the site of this center, we will continue to seek out other potential sites. We are looking for people of all ages in business, medical, entertainment, teaching, counseling, government, and homemaking, to donate whatever time or resources you can make available for a season to help launch the Memphis Dream Center. Our vision is to teach people how to break out of the cycles of poverty, debt, and the addictive lifestyles and depression that can often accompany it. If you cannot teach a skill, talent, or trade, you might consider helping provide childcare while parents are in classes or jobs. Perhaps you cannot donate time or resources to either of these areas but you would be willing to bring them into your business or community project as interns for a season.

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2006 Rebourne Strategies, Inc.




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