I agree. There has to be some sort of public legal suit that can be filed against absentee landlords who obstruct commercial developments within a commercial district. They should be forced to properly manage their properties, find suitable tenants, and maintain the properties up to a certain standard which would cost them money they don't really want to pay to abide by these regulations. Maybe that would force them to sell it as a reasonable price or spend the money to improve their properties. I was away from Memphis for 5 years & now I'm back and A.C. Wharton and his administration's ideas/implementations of plans for this city are a breath of fresh air. Just look at what's going on at the airport. It looks great, we just have to take a stand against these ridiculous Delta Airlines airfare prices, further hindering Memphis' developments. It's hard for large businesses to operate out of Memphis if it would cost them an average of 800K+ the send employees on business trips annually.
One of the biggest challenges to commercial growth downtown is the cost of real estate (i.e. the barrier to entry). This is especially disappointing when absentee landlords hold on to decrepit abandoned properties, asking an exorbitant amount for these properties they haven't used in decades, when people with motivation and good ideas could be making better use of them now.
Lack of municipal support and crime prevention was also problem for a long time under the mismanaged Herenton regime (think the rise and downfall of the Peabody Place mall), but I see a lot of progress in this direction with Mayor AC, and hope for our future with the right infrastructure and support for small businesses, and his focus on reducing blight.
Albeit these are true assessments, we pay taxes and vote for persons who should be finding solutions to this problem. Most successful cities this size & larger have more than one viable commercial district, one of which being its center city area/downtown area. Our situation should be no different. Eminent Domain could start the process. I understand the demographics of Memphis, so I understand why East Memphis & the suburbs are more suitable choices for commercial development both from an economical standpoint as well as a safety aspect. I also understand that both the South Memphis & North Memphis areas that immediately border out downtown area makes it a bit unsafe (depending on where you grew up in Memphis, me 10 minutes South of downtown). I propose a bordering system for our downtown region starting with seizing both condemned properties as well as low income housing in and around Downtown Memphis in order to extend its borders. Sounds heartless, but I'm all about progression.
East Memphis and the suburbs typically prove to be much "safer" for commercial growth though. If anything, most major corporate players are going to target the markets east of Midtown. I'm still skeptical about the success of Bass Pro in the Pyramid, and, should it fail, most corporations won't risk sharing in Bass Pro's fate.
However, if Bass Pro is a success, hopefully other companies will follow.