DNA looks behind the scenes & hears what's ahead @ Orpheum

Downtowners got a look backstage and an update on the coming season from Orpheum President and CEO Pat Halloran at the Downtown Neighborhood Association meeting June 28th.

The beautiful theater on Main Street, just up the bluff from the River, was restored in 1984 and is a huge asset both to the City and downtown. DNA members were led backstage to see some of theater's working areas - the three-truck interior loading area, specially floored dance warm-up area, and the autographed hallway - and wandered briefly through the beautiful guilt and chandelier lit interior.

For information on
the Orpheum's history and restoration, click HERE
the upcoming season, click HERE.

To learn more about and join Downtown Neighborhood Association, click HERE.

Independence Day 2011

Fireworks on the Memphis Riverfront
July 3rd at 8:45 pm

A day early this year - the official U.S. independence holiday is the 4th of July, the day in 1776 the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence. Drafted by a committee headed by Thomas Jefferson, the Declaration was approved two days after a vote had legally separated the colonies from Great Britain.

Additional activities are planned at Mud Island River Park. Click HERE for info.

Permeable Pavement - an old idea for the Future

Memphis got it right in 1859 when we paved the Memphis Landing with cobblestones. The stones lay atop a basement layer of sand, so water seeps through the spaces between the stones and filters back into the earth.

It's an idea that's resurfacing, and as the Natural Resources Defence Council says a key in reducing storm-water runoff and improving water quality.

Click HERE to see 3 "modern," easy paving suggestions for a more sustainable future.

State requires City disinfect wastewater before it hits the River

Living on the Mississippi River and having pure acquifer water for drinking, Memphis is reminded that those downriver drink from the Mississippi and we fish and recreate in it. In order to control E coli bacteria, State regulators will require that Memphis disinfect our wastewater before it goes into the River.

Click HERE for Commercial Appeal coverage.

Steamboat Deal - a smart investment for Memphis?

On short notice, the Council learned about a "relocation opportunity" and approved a resolution to loan the Great American Steamboat Co. $9M to relocate and operate the American Queen out of Memphis. Tied to the resolution, but described as not crucial to the deal, was the addition of $9.75M to the City budget for the pods and walkways at Beale Street Landing.
(Click to enlarge photo of American Queen docked at Mud Island in 2005.)

The City's role in the deal? The Council was asked to approve a $9M loan of federal money going from the City to the boat company in hopes that it will create jobs and be able to repay the loan from docking fees and sales taxes.

Yes, it would be wonderful to once again have an overnight steamboat on the MS River and a new company bringing new jobs to Memphis. Is it a good business venture for the City? Here are some pros and cons. Read more ยป


City Council Adds $9.75M More for Beale Street Landing to Budget

So far taxpayers have paid $31.5M (plus $1M in private money) to complete Beale Street Landing's boat dock, helical loading ramp, grass-roofed restaurant/gift shop, and new parking lot.

Now, City Council has added $9.75M more to the budget to pay landscaping costs for the "pods" and zigzagged concrete sidewalks at Beale Street Landing. That brings the total taxpayer cost for Beale Street Landing to around $41.25M. (Click on illustration to enlarge.)

Don't be confused like we were until Tom Charlier's article in the Commercial Appeal straightened it out. This $9.75M is NOT the $9M loan to the Great American Steamboat Co. approved the same day (May 17) in the same resolution by City Council. Click HERE for the Commercial Appeal article.

And don't forget there are options. Last year Benny Lendermon told the RDC Board
Lendermon [click for audio]:
I mean, you could go in there with maybe, you know, a million dollars and fix everything and make it green and make the connections to Beale Street, and all...

For more information or to weigh-in on the budget, steamboat deal or additional $9.75M to landscape Beale Street Landing, e-mail the Council and Mayor:



City Budget FY2012 - Money for the Riverfront?

The Daily News reports Memphis is $22.7M in the hole with another $60M in red-ink from 2007. City Council budget wrap-up is underway with no concensus on cuts or tax increases. And the new budget year (2012) starts July 1.

The "Commercial Appeal" reported $75.6 Million was spent on the riverfront during the past 10 years; $71.8M of that was taxpayer money. In the past, Riverfront Development Corporation (RDC) was treated like an official City department when it came to the budget. That's no longer the case, but there is money in the operating budget for RDC, and it's unclear if a complex deal with Great American Steamboat Co. puts more public money into their Beale Street Landing project.

FY 2012 Operating Budget:
The proposed City operating budget includes $2.3M for RDC. It's a 1-year extension to a 10 year management contract signed by Mayor Herenton with the RDC back in 2000. City funding for RDC was supposed to decrease after 5 years and to have reached 0 by this past year, but the contract was amended in 2005 and annual payments to the RDC continued. Under the City/RDC management contract, the RDC receives the City payment plus all income from riverfront parks including Mud Island and lease and rental fees from Memphis in May, Memphis Yacht Club, and Memphis Riverboats.

FY 2012 Capital Improvement Project (CIP) Budget:

There is no direct additional money in the long-range CIP budget for the RDC. Last year's 2011 budget approved additional funding to finish Beale Street Landing, bringing the total for that public project to roughly $33M, but it did not include $6.9M for the project's "pod" landscaping design. It is unclear exactly how a recent deal between a new steamboat company, a $9M loan from Housing and Community Development, and anticipated private investment of $15.5M will affect Beale Street Landing, which under the arrangement is to become the homeport for a refurbished overnight riverboat.

UPDATE: City Council added $9.75M to the CIP budget on May 17th to pay for the "pod" and zigzag concrete walkways at Beale Street Landing. Previously unfunded and estimated to cost $6.9M, $3M was added to make the walkways ADA accessible.

The $9.75M is to be paid by City general obligation bonds and will add roughly $880,000 a year to future City operating budgets.

Recycling Goes High Style - Curb Couture Trashion Show

Fun & fashion - with a twist
Sunday (June 5), 6 - 8pm
on Main Street in front of the Cannon Center, just a block from the River.

Green couture hits the runway with original designs from the recycling bins of Memphis's leading fashion figures. Add to the trashion show food, wine, and a silent auction all to benefit Memphis City Beautiful's neighborhood projects - it's an event not be missed. Cost: $50. Phone 522-1135 through F or 827-0658 Sat. to make a reservation. You can pay at the gate.