Thursday, October 05, 2000

Plans for Riverfront Rollin' Right Along

Commercial Appeal
By Deborah M. Clubb

A contract between the new Riverfront Development Corp. and the city could be ready in 30 to 45 days.

Negotiations to give the nonprofit organization authority and funds to manage, maintain and develop riverfront parks and other public lands is going well, RDC board member John McConomy told the board Wednesday.

The Baker Donelson Bearman and Caldwell law firm is representing RDC in the complex negotiations, McConomy said, dealing with the turnover of park lands and Mud Island River Park and giving RDC authority to execute a master plan of development.

A special part of the discussion is the historic "promenade" property deeded for public use by city founders, said McConomy, executive vice president and general counsel of Storage USA. Legal issues around the promenade include what it can be used for "and how we get the ability to use it," he said.

Consultants from New York and Denver, hired to produce a Memphis riverfront master plan, will return next month with drawings of their initial analysis, said RDC president Benny Lendermon.

The RDC executive committee spent Tuesday in New York to review preliminary findings and tour Battery Park City, a 10 1/2-mile development along the Hudson River. Several of the Memphis consulting team members worked on the Battery Park project.

"These people (consultants) are so excited about being a part of the only place in the country where you can come to get a view and a feel of the mighty Mississippi River," said RDC chairman John Stokes. Instead of seeing Mud Island as a liability, "these people see that as a magnificent opportunity," Stokes said.

The consultants, headed by New York architects Cooper Robertson & Partners, will present their analysis during at least one large public meeting in mid-November and possibly several smaller meetings, Lendermon said.

Meanwhile, citizens can make suggestions for the riverfront on the RDC's Website at http://www.memphisriverfront.com.

Lendermon said he has been surprised at the number and quality of comments on the Website.

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