Harbor Town

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Location: Memphis, TN. Riverfront area of downtown Memphis, next to central business district

Contrary to most development occurring in Memphis in the late 1980s, a Memphis developer wanted to create a vibrant new neighborhood close to downtown that would encourage intermingling and mimic his childhood neighborhood that contained a diverse mix of income, ethnicity, and uses. Despite the many initial challenges of zoning ordinances and buyer perceptions the project faced, the neighborhood is now a highly successful traditional neighborhood development.

The project has taken shape on a formerly barren peninsula surrounded by the Mississippi and Rolf Rivers bordering the central business district of Memphis. Harbor Town is 135 acres and is compact, pedestrian friendly, features a mix of uses, and contains three interconnected districts on a traditional grid system. At the center of the site is a wetlands detention which appears like a stream and ponds which creates natural boundaries between districts. These districts include: 1) a garden district at the center containing a blend of zero-lot line houses, townhomes,and larger detatched units, 2) a village district containing rental apartments and a variety of townhomes, semi-attached homes, and single-family houses, and 3) the harbor district near the south end containing a town square which features a bilingual daycare, a Montessori school, rental apartments over retail, offices, restaurants, a grocery store, a yacht club, inn (still in process), and a marina on the Wolf River.

Housing options within the neighborhood are quite diverse, ranging in size from 1,000 to 6,000 square feet and featuring a wide range of prices and rents that has attracted a diverse mix of families, singles, and couples. The homes and apartments meet a harmonious standard for facades and architectural style which ranges from Charleston side-yard houses to shotgun cottages. Houses have small lots and are all relatively close to the street, thus encouraging the use of the parks incorporated into the neighborhood which are frequently used for community activities. Most homes have front porches, as well, and all main streets end in a park. Alleys in the back make streets more pedestrian friendly, and streetside parking and narrow curb-to-curb distances help calm traffic, adding to the neighborly feel. The neighborhood is also within easy access to the downtown trolleys and bus lines.

The presence of Harbor Town has helped jump-start a dramatic reinvestment in downtown Memphis, which is now well known for its vibrancy and has improved local perception of the downtown experience.

Read more at this project's website.

Transect Zone(s): T5 center, T6 core.
Status: Complete
Project or Plan's Scale: Neighborhood
Features: Civic buildings & parks, Mixed uses, Transit oriented development, Waterfront.
Land area (in acres): 135
Total built area (in sq. ft.):
Retail area (in sq. ft.): 25
Office area (in sq. ft.): 30
Industrial area (in sq. ft.):
Number of hotel units:
Number of residential units (include live/work):
Civic uses (type and size): school, marina, parks
Parks & green space (in acres):
Project team designers: Looney Ricks Kiss Architects
Project team developers: Henry Turley Co., Patton & Taylor Construction

Previous site status: Undeveloped greenfield

Starting/Ending date of construction/implementation: - 2004