The purpose of the UNDC is to facilitate economic and community revitalization in the neighborhood surrounding the University of Memphis, or the University District, building on the potential of the University of Memphis as an anchor for the area. The basic business assumption of the UNDC is that there is a direct relationship between the long-term viability and marketability of the University of Memphis and the economic and social vitality of the University District.
University of Memphis President, Dr. Shirley Raines, and the University of Memphis Board of Visitors have committed to a long-term strategy of engaging the University of Memphis with the community in a unique way, involving academic, economic development, community building efforts, and interdisciplinary applied research. This approach has earned the University the Carnegie Foundations highest classification for engagement.
Community residents, local business owners, and civic association leaders serve on the UNDC Board of Directors and provide guidance and neighborhood connections as the UNDC gains momentum. The UNDC carefully coordinates efforts with ongoing community organizing activities of its partners in the University District, including the University District Business Alliance, the University District Inc. and the Highland Area Renewal Corporation.
In 2006, the UNDC, with funding from the City of Memphis and project management by Looney Ricks Kiss Architects, completed the Highland Area Master Plan. The Highland Area Master Plan provides strategies for achieving a comfortable pedestrian environment, managing the design and mix of retail and other uses, creating diverse and high quality residential spaces, locating parking properly, and promoting safety and a positive perception of the community.
The UNDC works to stimulate new public and private investment and to implement appropriate economic development incentives. In 2007, the UNDC and its partners were successful in receiving municipal designation of the first project specific Tax Increment Finance District in Memphis. As a proactive, neighborhoodbased development entity, the UNDC assists developers interested in University District projects that conform to its Master Plan.