I was made aware of a story published in Memphis today about Elvis Presley Boulevard, a STROAD (street/road hybrid) that is going to be worked on in an upcoming project. In my time in Memphis, I was able to look at this project and the problems/solutions were obvious. This corridor needs to become a place, not just to present a respectful gateway to Graceland, but for the adjacent lands and neighborhoods to prosper.
Fortunately, to transform this STROAD from a corridor solely purposed for moving cars to a place that creates value for the community is simple. It will likely even cost less than what is now being considered, and it will certainly have a much higher rate of return.
I'm diverting momentarily from our coverage of CNU to give you two pictures from Chico, CA. The first is a standard STROAD that looks similar to the current Elvis Presley Blvd. Throw in some decorative lighting and a few superficial accoutrements, and you essentially have what I understand is now being proposed.
Here's another option for Memphis to consider. This is the Chico Esplanade. It actually carries more traffic than the STROAD and, as you can see, creates not only a more pleasant environment, but is a platform for some really amazing (and valuable) adjacent land uses. What you are seeing here are four center driving lanes and two parking/access lanes separated by a median.
Now this has matured for some time -- Memphis is obviously not going to have this type of vegetation in 2013. However, that can happen over time, as well as a maturing of the current land uses along Elvis Presley Blvd., with a design like this.
And Memphis, if you look closely, you already have an uninspired version of this same design right in front of Graceland. Put a little more love into it (and find someone who knows spatial design) and then extend it along the entire corridor and this place will pop.
This is a fantastic opportunity. I wish you all much success.