August 03, 2015

Community Builder

By Jane A. Donahoe
– Memphis Business Journal –

Bloodworth expertise helping bring smart development environments to Memphis.

Rusty Bloodworth is not the kind of executive they built the desk for.

He would rather be situated at a large conference table or taking notes while strolling an avenue in Europe.

Bloodworth, Boyle Investment Co., executive vice president, specializes in community building. His 37-year Boyle career has allowed freedom and support to study his craft, bringing urban ideas back to Memphis.

A native Memphian, he studied architecture at the University of Virginia, but in his fourth and final year, found a new fervor for planning and development. He had a realization that too many of an architect’s works are never created and concluded; that as a developer; he could maintain more control over which projects get built.

“Then you find out really it’s the bankers,” who maintain control, Bloodworth jokes.

He is currently involved in the reworking of Memphis and Shelby County’s zoning and ordinance regulations. The city is at a unique crossroads to alter splintering development patterns that have existed for decades, and Bloodworth says Memphis is blessed to have a group of people dedicated to seeing these developments succeed in Memphis. He is excited about the current atmosphere of new urbanism and community building.

“I’m more excited than I’ve been since just out of college,” he says.

“There is just this waking up out of a deep slumber.”

He was recently awarded a fellowship from 2005-2006 from the Knight Program in Community Building, which will further advance his knowledge in the smart growth arena.

At 60, Bloodworth’s career is revving up at a time when he thought it would be slowing down. He plans to dedicate the next decade to community projects and civic involvement. Throughout his career he has directed the planning and zoning of six major multiple-use projects in excess of 2,000 acres including Ridgeway Center, the Regalia, Humphreys Center, Schilling Farms, Century Center and River Oaks. He is currently working on a 600-acre mixed-use development in Franklin, Tennessee.

Ron Belz, co-president of Belz Enterprises, has known and worked with Bloodworth for more than 20 years, including on numerous legislative affairs together. Describing Bloodworth as a strategic and careful thinker, Belz says they bounce ideas off each other often.

“He understands the needs of our core city, and I think he has tried to do those things that are in the long term interest of the collective whole,” Belz says.

Reading 15 different books at one time is typical for Bloodworth. Two of the books he’s currently reading include The New Civic Art by Andreas Duany and Catechism of the Catholic Church. He describes his library in an affectionate way, with stacks of books piled past the shelves, spilling onto the floor.

“It’s really dysfunctional, but I love it.”

His Boyle career began when he walked in the company’s offices, then located Downtown, looking for a summer job. He told them the pay didn’t matter and he was hired. He has stayed with Boyle over the years because of the support the company has given him and because he’s not very good at moving.

“I like to travel, but I like to come back to the same spot,” he says.

Bloodworth and his wife Frances have four children, Elizabeth, Faith, Russell and Christopher. He enjoys spending time with his family and is also a watercolorist by hobby. His Christian faith is an integral part of his personal and professional life.

Bloodworth is, at all times, an educator and student. He is usually toting a blank writing pad full of sketches and ideas. His respect for learning is unequivocal and he’s practiced that throughout his career at Boyle.

He has studied housing patterns as a Thord Gray Scholar in Sweden, participated in the Masters in Environmental Design program at Yale, and been involved in several specialized design programs in Paris, France, and Florence, Venice and Vicenza, Italy. His time in Scandinavia as a young student also permitted travels to Scotland, Finland, Russia and Germany.

Travel is an obvious enthusiasm, but not to simply watch the tides roll in.

“I think I am the happiest if I can produce something that involves travel and learning simultaneously. I’m really clicking on all cylinders.”