Get Down Memphis

What is the purpose of the Downtown Memphis Commission?

The mission of the Downtown Memphis Commission (DMC), formerly known as the Center City Commission, is to improve the economy of Memphis and Shelby County by coordinating an aggressive public/private program to promote the redevelopment and economic growth of the Central Business Improvement District, the area referred to as "Downtown".

What is the Central Business Improvement District?

As the regional center for culture, business, and medicine, the Central Business Improvement District (CBID) was established as an area that required special redevelopment attention in order to ensure the economic growth and vitality of the entire community. The CBID is generally bound by the Wolf River on the north, Crump Boulevard on the south, the Tennessee state line on the west, and Danny Thomas Boulevard on the east, with an extension between Poplar and Linden to Watkins to encompass the Medical District. Click here to view a CBID map.

What is a Business Improvement District?

A business improvement district is an area of significant commercial activity designated to receive special improvements, projects, and management services funded through a special assessment of commercial property owners.

What properties are included in the CBID assessment?

Only taxable commercial properties appraised at greater than $25,000 are included in the special assessment district, and the first $25,000 of appraised value on all commercial properties is exempt from the assessment. The assessment does not apply to residential properties, churches, or other tax-exempt properties, or commercial properties appraised at less than $25,000.

What benefits do property owners receive from being a part of this CBID?

There are a variety of services and benefits to being located within the CBID:

  • Development projects in the CBID are eligible for reduced interest rate loans that are available only through DMC programs.
  • Some loans and grants and technical assistance are available to businesses in the CBID.
  • The DMC works in partnership with businesses and organizations in the CBID, such as the Medical District.
  • Federal office facilities give preference to the CBID for new locations.
  • The DMC works with neighborhood associations in the CBID to develop and attract new businesses.
  • New development, such as hotels and multi-family housing, are encouraged because of tax benefits available only in the CBID.

How much revenue is generated by the CBID assessment?

Commercial property is assessed at a rate of 65 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. (Assessed valuation is only 40 percent of the property's appraised value.) No residential or tax-exempt properties are assessed. Based on the current assessed value of commercial properties in the CBID, the annual assessment generates approximately $2.8 million.

What are CBID Assessment funds used for?

The funds from the CBID assessment are used by the DMC to provide such services as technical assistance, professional planning and promotional support, design assistance, public improvements, and business recruitment, as well as management assistance relating to traffic, parking, maintenance, security, and other public issues.

Are copies of the Downtown Memphis Commission's Annual Report open to the public?

Yes. The Downtown Memphis Commission's Annual Report is available to the public. Click here to download the most recent annual report.

How do I know when the Downtown Memphis Commission or its Affiliate Boards meet?

Board meetings are held at the DMC office at 114 North Main. A standard schedule is provided below but we recommend that you call 901.575.0540 to confirm before attending a meeting. 

Are the board meetings open to the public?

Yes.

How does one become a DMC board member?

Members of the Downtown Memphis Commission Commission Board of Directors are appointed by the Mayors of the City of Memphis and of Shelby County. Appointments must then be approved by the Memphis City Council and the Shelby County Board of Commissioners. To be considered for a position on the DMC Board or one of its Affiliate Boards, please forward your statement of interest and resume to Christine Taylor at taylor [at] downtownmemphis [dot] com

What financial incentives are offered to businesses currently located or considering moving into the CBID?

The DMC facilitates Downtown development by creating partnerships to implement projects and by administering financial incentives that can help lower the costs of Downtown development projects. As such, the DMC offers several programs that offer tax freezes, assistance with capital improvements, assistance in securing working capital for new and expanding downtown businesses, and more.  Visit our incentives and applications webpage for more information 

What is the Downtown Property PILOT Program, and how do I qualify for it?

The Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) Program is a financial incentive available to property owners within the Central Business Improvement District who wish to improve or stabilize their property through building renovations or new construction. Projects that consist of 60% in capital improvements to the property are eligible for this program. This incentive effectively freezes ad valorem (real estate) taxes at the current, pre-development rate for a determined period of time, as determined by the PILOT Tax Freeze Evaluation Criteria available. Please visit our Downtown Property PILOT Program section for more information. Click here to learn more about PILOTS.

How do I qualify for a Development Loan?

All property owners within the Central Business Improvement District (CBID) are eligible to apply for a Development Loan. The application is then evaluated based on predetermined criteria that consider economic viability, community impact, and need.

What is the maximum amount of a Development Loan, and how long do I have to repay the loan?

The maximum Development Loan amount awarded is $90,000 per project. The actual amount is determined by staff evaluation of the project and through action of the Center City Development Corporation (CCDC). Each project is evaluated based on predetermined criteria that considers economic viability, community impact, and need. The Development Loan is amortized over a 20-year term at an annual rate of 3 percent interest. The loan is terminated at the end of the 10th year with a balloon payment to the CCDC by the borrower. Click here to learn more about development loans.

Are vendors allowed to set up and sell food and merchandise Downtown?

The Downtown Memphis Commission encourages food and merchandise vendors on the Main Street Mall. However, a business license is required, and certain other regulations apply. All food vendors must have a permit and food vending cart approved by the Memphis & Shelby County Health Department. A Main Street Mall vendor permit must also be obtained from the DMC. Click here to learn more and to download Main Street permits and encroachment forms.

Where can I receive a business license?

Business licenses are issued from the Business Tax Office of the Shelby County Clerk's Office at 150 Washington Avenue. Different businesses require different permitting. Please contact the Center City Commission's Development Department, the City of Memphis Office of Planning and Development, or the Greater Memphis Chamber for a comprehensive list of contacts that are important to your particular business.

Can I have an event in Court Square?

Special events, even weddings, are frequently held in Court Square. A Main Street Mall Encroachment Permit must be first obtained, however, and it is advisable to reserve the gazebo well in advance of the date by contacting the DMC's Operations Department at (901) 575-0540. A $75 fee per day is charged for the use of Court Square and the gazebo. Alcoholic beverages may be served at a private reception in Court Square with the appropriate encroachment permit from the Downtown Memphis commission, if the applicant shows proof of liability insurance coverage for the period of the event. In addition, a Special Events Permit is required from the City of Memphis Permits Office. Click here to download a Main Street encroachment form.

What is the Blue Suede Brigade?

The Blue Suede Brigade is a team of hospitality ambassadors that assist residents and visitors throughout the Downtown Memphis Core and Medical District. This group provides directions, advice, and a special sense of security to anyone in need. Please visit our Blue Suede Brigade section for more information on this highly visible part of Memphis hospitality. Learn more about the Blue Suede Brigade and its operations.