$10.5M More for Beale Street Landing - Council approves in 8-3 Vote

No one in the room seemed quite clear on the details, in fact not even on what the $10.5M would pay for, whether the federal funds had been used yet, or what the requirements were to meet federal and state guidelines. But in the end, the Council approved $10.5M for phase 4a of Beale Street Landing.

The discussion was never about whether it was a good idea to spend $10.5M to build a restaurant, ticket sales/gift area, and parking lot in Tom Lee Park or about any possible alternatives, but rather about the City being able to collect federal dollars. Benny Lendermon, RDC president, said that it was a City project, not an RDC project, and that the City was in charge of the funding.

Here's a rough estimate of the overall cost: $20M already spent, $10.5M now approved, $1M from private sources, proposed $1M switch to BSL from Housing and Community Development, and $6.8M for landscaping "pods", which at this time is not included in future City budgets.

The vote was 8-3 with one abstention. Voting against the funding were Councilmen Shea Flinn, Reid Hedgepeth, and Kemp Conrad. Councilwoman Wanda Halbert abstained.

Click for Commercial Appeal coverage and editorial and Daily News coverage.


Q: Should the City spend $11.5M to build a 3rd riverfront restaurant?

A restaurant on the riverfront – sounds like a great idea.
But as the City Council votes whether to build one with public money at Beale Street Landing (BSL), here are a few facts to consider:

1) Joe’s Crab Shack is closed and being demolished.
2) The Pier closed a couple of months ago.
3) The 2 city-owned restaurants on Mud Island that the RDC runs, River Terrace and Harbor Landing, are closed except for private rentals.

The estimated construction cost is $12.5M for the 60-seat restaurant, small ticket/gift shop section, and parking lot that will take up the northern 20% of what is now Tom Lee Park. No plans for operation and maintenance have been presented.

The RDC will ask the City Council for the construction money Tues. (5/25).

What about a less expensive and easier to maintain option? A suggestion for street food on the riverfront. Click HERE.


More $ for Beale Street Landing? Full Council Vote Tues. May 25

For a clear, illustrated summary of what's on Tuesday's agenda, click HERE.

The request is for $10.5M plus $1M to be switched from Housing and Community Development for Beale Street Landing. It was not approved by the budget committee. If approved by full Council, another $6.8M would be needed to finish BSL as designed. The current estimated cost of $39.3M does not include any future operation or maintenance costs.

We urge the City Council to
* call a time-out and vote NO to this funding,
* give the Mayor time to consider and propose other alternatives,
* insist on full transparency and a cost-effective solution.

Beale Street Landing Pushed even as Money Problems Loomed

When money problems arose for Beale Street Landing in Feb. 2009, the Riverfront Development Corporation (RDC) aggressively pushed the project while keeping Interim-Mayor Myron Lowery and City Councilmembers in the dark.

Questions Haunt Beale Street Landing Project
BILL DRIES The Daily News

The president of the Riverfront Development Corp. said earlier this week the organization may have been too aggressive in pursuing the Beale Street Landing project, even when federal stimulus funding dried up.

Benny Lendermon said perhaps RDC officials should have then scaled back the project.

But they didn’t.

Lendermon’s post mortem on a critical stage of the project comes as the Memphis City Council prepares to vote later this month on $10.5 million in city funding for a construction contract on the project's next to last phase.

Click HERE for the full article.


Beale St Landing Funding Voted Down

Beale St Landing (BSL) failed today, Tuesday, May 11th. After a previous postponement, the City Council budget committee voted against more money for BSL. $10.5 million had been requested plus $1M found in the Housing and Community Development budget.

During questioning by Councilman Shea Flinn, Councilmembers learned that completing the project would require that $11.5M plus at least $6.6M for landscaping with no completion date in sight.

The Committee also learned that as far back as Feb. 2009, BSL was in trouble financially and that neither the City Council nor Interim Mayor Lowery was informed.

Click HERE to hear RDC President Lendermon's statement.

Three months later, in May 2009, the Council was not told the bad news, and, in Aug. 2009, the RDC signed a construction contract committing the City to spend $9.6 million to build a boat dock. At that time, the overnight boats for which the dock was designed had been out of business almost a year.

The budget will go to the full City Council in the near future.

HERE for Commercial Appeal coverage by Amos Maki
HERE for transcript of ABC/24 coverage by Jeni DiPrizio.
More comments at MemphisCobblestones.com and SpeaktoPower.org


Memphis Salutes Tunisia

Memphis in May salutes Tunisia, and the work of the late architect Jack Tucker is a strong connector between Memphis and our honored country. An exhibit of Tucker's drawings & photos will be on display during Memphis in May.

Jack Tucker’s Tunisia
The Timpani Building - 43 Union Avenue
Dates: May 17 through May 28
Times: M-Sat, 10am to 6pm; Sun 1PM to 6PM
Reception: Friday, May 21, 5 to 9:30 PM

The works reflect Tucker’s experiences in Tunisia while serving there in the Peace Corps in 1962. Troubled that the Tunisians were destroying centuries of history in the name of modernization, Jack met with civic leaders and convinced them to adopt a plan to restore crumbling buildings, converting them into museums, hotels, and tourist attractions. Among the first structures he rebuilt under the plan was the Mosque Maklouf in LeKef Tunisia.

Photos: Before and After

Tucker’s advocacy for preservation in Tunisia, later led him to champion the same cause in downtown Memphis.Read more »

Bike to Work Day!

Memphis is joining cities around the country to rediscover the bicycle as a viable means of transportation! Put on your gear and join the ride May 21.

It's part of a national initiative to focus on issues like urban sprawl, health, and revitalization of urban centers. FfOR is pleased to be one of the many local sponsors. Click HERE for information about Friday's Bike to Work and the week of related events.