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Downtown Memphis Anti-Neglect Initiative

The Downtown Memphis Anti-Neglect Initiative aims to improve or stabilize long-term, neglected properties through enforcement of property maintenance regulations and/or legal action. The Anti-Neglect Initiative is designed to develop and implement creative legal and practical strategies to proactively eliminate blighting conditions and to move owners of problem Downtown vacant properties in towards proper maintenance and eventually either demolition, sale or full use. The Initiative is designed to focus on enforcing standards, getting results and piloting new approaches which will be used consistently across the CBID in years to come. 

Goals:

  • Safe, clean, and well-maintained Downtown environment.
  • Quality building stock that contributes to the vitality and economic success of the Downtown community.

Objective: 
To decrease property code violations, habitual neglect, and long-term vacant properties in the Central Business Improvement District (CBID.)

Targeted Properties
Deteriorating, neglected, and vacant properties jeopardize existing investment and project an image of an unsafe and unmaintained environment. The Anti-Neglect Initiative focuses on neglected properties meeting the definition of a public nuisance in addition to long-term vacant properties with no marketing or development plans. If a structure is considered unfit for human occupation or use, it may be deemed a public nuisance. The following are a list of frequent problems with long-term vacant structures:

  • Broken or missing doors or windows
  • Loose or missing veneer or siding
  • Damaged and derelict signs
  • Collapsing roof or overhang
  • Damaged and vandalized security gates
  • Trash and debris
  • Deteriorating plywood panels on boarded-up doors and windows
  • Outmoded electrical and mechanical systems
  • Broken and impassable sidewalks
  • High Grass and Weeds

Vacant Building Standards
The Downtown Memphis Commission has conducted a survey of Downtown Memphis buildings, and is working independently using its own powers and authority, and in partnership with the City of Memphis, to enforce the minimum standards required by the Memphis Code of Ordinances in the Central Business Improvement District.

The Memphis Code of Ordinances includes an extensive Anti-Neglect Ordinance along with a detailed Housing Code which is applicable to all structures, residential or commercial, within the City of Memphis. These ordinances require that all buildings and structures be in habitable condition, meaning that within a relatively brief period of time, tenant improvements could result in a move-in ready space. Boarding up an uninhabitable building indefinitely does not bring that building into compliance with applicable ordinances.

In cases where uninhabitable buildings are not brought into compliance with applicable ordinances, orders of compliance may be issued by the Downtown Memphis Commission, requiring owners to either complete renovations to the point of habitability or demolish uninhabitable structures. In appropriate cases, the Downtown Memphis Commission will take legal action to enforce compliance and eliminate blight in Downtown Memphis at the owner’s expense, including potentially filing civil litigation under the Tennessee Neighborhood Preservation Act.

Vacant Property Registration 
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Sidewalk Maintenance Standards
The Downtown Memphis Commission has conducted a survey of Downtown Memphis sidewalks, and is working independently and in partnership with the City of Memphis to enforce the minimum standards required by the Memphis Code of Ordinances.

The Memphis Code of Ordinances, at Title 12, Chapter 12-24, requires the owner and/or tenant of real property to keep sidewalks adjacent to their property well maintained and free of obstructions, and includes detailed requirements for sidewalk maintenance.

In cases where sidewalks are obstructed or not properly maintained, the City may provide a 30-day advance notice to correct to the owner and/or tenant to repair or correct the problem sidewalk. If the owner or tenant does not make the necessary corrections, the City is authorized to complete the repairs at the expense of the owner or tenant.