Get Down Memphis

Request for Qualifications (RFQ): Downtown Memphis Master Plan


RFQ Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018
Responses Due: Wednesday, February 21, 2018 at 4:00 PM


The Downtown Memphis Commission (DMC), in partnership with the City of Memphis Office of Comprehensive Planning, is seeking statements of qualifications from interested firms or teams of firms with the appropriate expertise and experience to serve as a consultant to coordinate the development of a Downtown Memphis Master Plan. This planning process will set strategy and action steps to serve as a roadmap towards making Downtown Memphis a more livable, walkable, and thriving urban place. The Plan is intended to be the primary vision-setting and policy-directing strategy to lead the on-going revitalization of Downtown Memphis for the next 10 years.

While the DMC follows a strategic plan in setting its yearly work plan to pursue its dual goals of increasing commercial property values and increasing Downtown’s population, a comprehensive Master Plan for Downtown does not yet exist. In addition to establishing priorities for Downtown’s future land use and development, transportation network, parks and open spaces, and major development projects, the Downtown Memphis Master Plan is expected to guide real estate and infrastructure investments and planning and economic development activities going forward. The Plan will place special emphasis on the importance of good urban design and the role it plays in creating places of lasting value.

Download a PDF of the RFP Document

Download a PDF with Q&A's from potential respondents

About the DMC
The DMC is the organization charged with advancing Memphis and Shelby County by making Downtown Memphis a better place to live, work, learn, invest, and visit. DMC’s purpose is to advance Downtown for the betterment of all of Memphis and Shelby County. A strong, vibrant Downtown serves as a vital economic engine that ultimately helps all communities throughout the Mid-South region prosper and grow.

The DMC is the official partnership between local government and the private business community in Downtown’s development. As such, the DMC spurs new development by leveraging its resources through strategic investment and key partnerships.

DMC’s two primary metrics for success are 1) an increase in the number of people living, working and engaging
in Downtown and 2) an increase in Downtown commercial property values. To do this, DMC implements a variety
of programs to foster development and investment, and to make Downtown fun, walkable, clean, safe, active
and interesting.

About Memphis 3.0
The City of Memphis is currently in the process of creating its first comprehensive plan in over 30 years. This planning initiative, led by the Memphis Office of Comprehensive Planning and known locally as Memphis 3.0, began in November 2016 and is expected to be complete and adopted in Q1 2019. The study area for this comprehensive plan is divided into 14 planning districts across Memphis. Downtown Memphis is split between two larger planning districts. The lead consulting firm, Opticos, is working with local sub-consultants to create the district-level plans. 

See the Memphis 3.0 website for more information.

While the DMC has long-maintained that a Downtown Master Plan is needed to guide Downtown’s growth in a manner consistent with best practices and our shared community vision, a comprehensive plan for the City of Memphis was first needed to establish the overall vision and direction for our city. With Memphis 3.0 well underway, the time is right to move forward on creating a Master Plan for Downtown Memphis.


The Downtown Memphis Master Plan: 
The DMC and the Office of Comprehensive Planning will partner to create a Downtown Master Plan in 2018. The Downtown Memphis Master Plan will dove-tail into the Memphis 3.0 process and build on the data and groundwork already laid by the city-wide planning process. The Plan will provide a common understanding of both where Downtown Memphis is today and what it wants to become tomorrow. The project intent is to have the Downtown Memphis Master Plan adopted by the City of Memphis as a sub-component of the Memphis 3.0 Comprehensive Plan.

The DMC Board of Directors will serve as the Steering Committee to oversee the planning process for the Downtown Memphis Master Plan in partnership with the Office of Comprehensive Planning. Advisory Groups, or sub-committees, will likely be formed as needed to focus on particular topic areas. The consultant is expected to engage with the Steering Committee and the advisory groups to facilitate their input into the Plan.

Study Area:
The study area for the Downtown Memphis Master Plan will be the Central Business Improvement District (CBID). The CBID is generally bound by the Wolf River on the north, Crump Boulevard on the south, the Mississippi River on the west, and Danny Thomas Boulevard on the east, with an extension between Poplar Ave. and Dr. M.L. King Blvd. eastward to Watkins St. to include the Medical District. See map below.

CBID Full Draft1

Five Goals for the Downtown Master Plan:

  1. Establish consensus for what kind of place our community wants Downtown Memphis to be in 10 years.
  2. Propose a Downtown urban design and future land use plan (or guidelines) to complement the overall future land use plan for Memphis. This Plan should be based on the market potential, and likely future demand, for new development (office, residential, and retail) in Downtown Memphis over the next 10 years. 
  3. Identify priorities and strategic opportunities to stitch together Downtown’s urban fabric, encourage appropriate development, enhance quality of life, activate civic assets to their highest and best use, and improve underutilized public space.
  4. Identify best practices for addressing transportation and parking challenges and evaluate the impact of these options on improving quality of life, sustainability, and development potential for Downtown Memphis. 
  5. Adopt a high-impact plan with broad public support and clear implementation steps.

Scope of Work:

The DMC seeks a consultant to assist in creating a feasible plan to guide the next 10 years of growth and revitalization in Downtown Memphis. The consultant will also facilitate authentic community engagement that creates a conversation about the future of Downtown Memphis. A high-priority for the DMC through this planning process is to engage a broad and diverse range of stakeholders in a conversation about the future of Downtown. In a time when urban centers are revitalizing nationwide due to favorable trends, how can we help shape Downtown Memphis into a first-class urban place?

The DMC is especially interested in creating a Downtown Master Plan that is cognizant of changes in technology and the potential impacts on real estate and urban redevelopment best practices. Moreover, understanding and accounting for potential technological disruptions and market shifts, such as autonomous vehicles and the changing landscape for brick-and-mortar retail, are important considerations as well.

Ultimately, the DMC will collaborate with the consultant to develop a final scope of services; however, the anticipated services are expected to include the following tasks and deliverables:

  • Project Management: Develop a work plan, schedule, and project management approach
  • Review Existing Plans and Studies: Complete a review of previously completed plans and studies pertaining to Downtown Memphis. 
  • Document & Analyze Existing Conditions: Complete an assessment and inventory of applicable physical, social and environmental existing conditions and generate descriptive maps of existing land uses, parking and transportation networks, parks/open spaces, assets and opportunities, and development patterns within the CBID.
  • Public Engagement: Develop and execute a robust and effective public engagement strategy to facilitate broad public input into the Plan. Please refer to the detailed Public Engagement section below for more information.
  • Identify Vision, Goals, & Guideline Principles: Synthesize all inputs and leverage professional expertise and best practices to craft suitable overarching goals and principles that will guide the plan to ensure desired outcomes. principles that will guide the plan to ensure desired outcomes.
  • Development Recommendations: Identify, evaluate and prioritize development and infrastructure projects, urban design improvements, area programming recommendations, development and land use concepts, policies, and other implementation strategies consistent with the identified plan goals and principles. 
  • Plan Documentation: Develop the final plan report, including implementation recommendations and supporting maps and graphics. Special emphasis should be placed on creating a final plan that is clear, concise, graphics-driven, and easily relatable by a diverse audience.

Please note that a Downtown Memphis Parking Study is also being considered as a separate process to address immediate challenges regarding future supply and demand for public parking. Findings from this parking study, if undertaken, will be incorporated as a key input into Downtown Memphis Master Plan.

Public Engagement:
A critical component of the Plan is an effective public engagement strategy that incorporates non-traditional means of ensuring all stakeholders have an opportunity to provide input and contribute to the process. DMC will collaborate with the selected consultant to develop a detailed public participation and outreach strategy.

Additionally, DMC intends to engage Creative Partner(s), so that the public engagement meets the goal of involving a diverse set of audiences in interesting, creative ways to foster dialogue and meaningful input regarding the future of Downtown Memphis. The Creative Partners may be contracted and managed directly by the DMC or be retained as sub-consultants of the consultant, pending the development a final scope of services with the selected consultant.

A key priority for the DMC is to find effective ways to engage Downtown stakeholders and get their input into the planning process. DMC suggests that in addition to presentation-style public meetings, the consultant incorporate non-traditional public engagement and outreach strategies to ensure full community participation. DMC encourages consultants within their qualifications to highlight their specific experiences with engaging audiences in interesting and creative ways. Examples of outreach strategies could include, but are not limited to, walking tours and mobile workshops, arts-based civic dialogue, PechaKucha, speed geeking, panel discussions, and UrbanPlan workshops in partnership with the Memphis Chapter of the Urban Land Institute (ULI). Web-based solutions should also be considered as a method to increase opportunities for outreach and participation.

Project Timeline:
It is anticipated that the Downtown Master Plan will begin in Q2 2018 and should be complete by the end of Q1 2019. The final project timeline and schedule will be developed in collaboration with the selected consultant and in consultation with the Office of Comprehensive Planning.


Please follow the outline below and include the following information when submitting a response to this RFQ.

Letter of Intent:
State the full name(s) and address(es) of the organization(s) and the branch office(s) or other subordinate element(s) that will perform or assist in performing the services described herein.

Identify the firm contact name, phone numbers, and email addresses. Indicate type of firm ownership (individual, partnership or corporation) and explain any proposed team or joint venture or partnership relationships. Include the state in which the firm is incorporated or licensed.

Statement of Experience:
Provide a straightforward, complete and concise description of the consultant’s capabilities to satisfy the requirements outlined in this RFQ. Describe the experience, detailing a minimum of three recent, relevant projects in similar conditions and with similar size and/or scope. Summaries should include a narrative on the projects, work product examples, the associated fees, and client references.

Team Qualifications:
Provide the names and resumes of the project manager and key staff members who will work on the project. Include a team organization statement defining their anticipated roles on the team. Indicate the percent of involvement of each team member and identify who will be the daily point of contact for the DMC staff member assigned to manage the consultant.

Statement of Project Understanding & Approach:
Demonstrate project understanding, including details of the team’s familiarity and experience with providing master planning services in urban downtown contexts. Provide any additional information that demonstrates the firm’s understanding and insights related to the project. A detailed scope of services and project schedule are not required at this time, as the DMC will develop the final scope of services with the selected consultant.


Please direct any questions in writing to Mr. Brett Roler via email at roler [at] downtownmemphis [dot] com by Friday, January 26, 2018, by 4:00 PM using the subject line “Downtown Memphis Master Plan Questions.” Answers to all submitted questions will be posted on the DMC website the week of January 29, 2018.

Submission Due Date:
All statements of qualifications must be submitted to DMC by 4:00 PM on Wednesday, February 21, 2018. Submittals received after this time and date will not be considered. Please deliver ten (10) hard copies to the physical address below prior to the deadline:

Mr. Brett Roler, AICP - Downtown Memphis Commission, 114 N. Main St., Memphis, TN 38103
Respondents must also submit a digital PDF of the entire submittal via email to roler [at] downtownmemphis [dot] com prior to the deadline described above.


The DMC reserves the right to reject any or all submittals, or to make modifications to the RFQ, if needed. The following criteria will be used in evaluating qualifications:

Firm Experience:
A key consideration will be the demonstrated experience of the firm in similar work and a record of successful completion of similar projects. Also to be considered is the firm’s ability to take on additional work, demonstrated understanding of the DMC’s goals and purposes for this project, specific management approach, and the firm’s ability to offer the breadth and quality of services required for this project. The selected consultant should demonstrate evidence of broad knowledge of best practices in downtown district master planning and public engagement.

Project Team:
The DMC will give weight to the individual qualifications of the project team members who will be assigned to this project. Consideration will include qualifications of key personnel, project manager’s experience, and sub-consultant (if any) experience and qualifications. If a teaming approach is proposed, please note if the team has worked together on similar projects in the past.

Ability to Understand, Innovate Upon, and Complete the Scope of Work:
The consultant should communicate their ability to understand and innovate upon the scope of work. Special emphasis will be placed on creative public engagement and the innovative use of technology to improve the planning process.

EBO Program:
The DMC’s Equal Business Opportunity (EBO) program requires that a best-faith effort is made to avail any potential contracting or sub-contracting opportunities to qualified minority and women-owned businesses. Please describe your firm’s approach to diversity and inclusion and indicate if you plan to sub-contract any portion of the project.

References will be contacted for all finalist candidates.

Responsiveness to the RFQ and Compliance with Instructions.

Schedule and Availability.

Project Schedule

RFQ Release Date - Thursday, January 18, 2018
Questions Due - Friday, January 26, 2018, by 4:00 p.m.
Responses to Questions Posted - Week of January 29, 2018
RFQ Submittals Due - Wednesday, February 21, 2018, by 4:00 p.m.
Interviews (as necessary) - Week of March 5, 2018
Consultant Selection - Week of March 19, 2018
Contract Negotiation & Finalization - Late March, 2018
Notice to Proceed - Early April, 2018
Project Completed - During Q1 2019 (or earlier, if possible)


Equal Opportunity Statement :
The DMC is an equal opportunity employer and will select a consultant without regard to age, disability, religion, creed or belief, political affiliation, race, sex, or ethnicity.

DMC’s Equal Business Opportunity Program (EBO):
The DMC’s Equal Business Opportunity (EBO) program requires that a best-faith effort is made to proactively avail any potential contracting or sub-contracting opportunities to qualified minority and women-owned businesses.

Contract Negotiations:
The DMC will negotiate the terms of a contract with the consultant(s) submitting the top-ranked response(s) or another ranked choice, should negotiations with the top-ranked firm fail. DMC will not reimburse any costs incurred prior to a formal notice to proceed should a contract award result from this solicitation. All submittal costs in conjunction with this RFQ shall be borne by the submitting firm.