Tuesday, May 21, 2002

City Council resolution adopting the Riverfront Master Plan

Below is the complete text of the City Council resoltion "endorsing and supporting the Riverfront Master Plan as presented.


WHEREAS, the Memphis Riverfront Master Plan is a study of the Mississippi Riverfront Area defined by the Riverfront Development Corporation; and

WHEREAS, the goals of the master plan are to create an active, publicly accessible waterfront; to connect downtown directly to the Mississippi River; to provide a variety of riverfront experiences; and to ensure that the public realm is the most important aspect of the new riverfront; and

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT THE MEMPHIS CITY COUNCIL endorses and supports the Riverfront Master Plan as presented.

I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true copy and document was adopted, approved by the Council of the City of Memphis in regular session on
Date May 21, 2002
Deputy Comptroller - Council Records

Friday, May 10, 2002

Land Bridge, Yes! The "disadvantages" of the project have been greatly exaggerated.

Memphis Flyer
By Benny Lendermon
[Link to original]

The Riverfront Master Plan is designed to transform the Memphis riverfront into an active, vibrant, world-class waterfront through a combination of subtle and elaborate projects.

The most dramatic project in the Memphis Riverfront Master Plan is the land bridge. The extension of downtown across what is now the slack-water harbor and out to the Mississippi is the largest, most significant part of the plan. It makes possible the creation of a brand-new 150-acre lake and lakefront community on the north and a new active river harbor on the south. Not surprisingly, the land bridge has also generated the most discussion and is the most misunderstood part of the master plan.

As an engineer who was responsible for overseeing numerous major public works projects, including the 24-acre expansion of Tom Lee Park and the building of the Bluffwalk, I understand why citizens are concerned about the process by which the land bridge will be built.

But the construction process -- using fill -- is quite straightforward and has been used many times. In fact, a similar process was used to build the causeway that joins Mud Island at its north end to the city and the Tom Lee Park expansion in 1991. As for the stability of fill, much of Harbor Town is built on fill. And, of course, tens of thousands of people this month enjoyed the land created with fill at Tom Lee Park. So there's no question about the land bridge when it comes to our ability to build it or its stability once we do.

Others believe that the land bridge will not leave sufficient room for a marina. In fact, the east shore of the planned new harbor is large enough to accommodate the boats now docked at the two downtown marinas. The current toe of the slope at the Cobblestones (below where cobblestones are still in existence) will be replaced by a vertical wall which widens the harbor 75 feet on both sides. Even at low water the new harbor will allow docking on both sides, which is not possible today. If the demand is there, we can accommodate almost double the number of boats by building a marina on the harbor's west side.

A few active sportsmen worry that the land bridge will cut off their opportunity to canoe and kayak. Actually, the land bridge increases those opportunities. We'll have safe waters in the two-mile lake and closer access to the Mississippi for those more adventurous. The result is the best of both worlds.

Will the building of the land bridge be inconvenient? Most construction projects are, and this one will likely be no exception. But the fill will come from sand dredged directly from the river, not from dump trucks traveling downtown streets. That will minimize both the inconvenience and the cost of the project.

The rewards for Memphis are clear. The land bridge makes possible an active, exciting marina at the very spot where most visitors go to take in views of the Mississippi -- the foot of Union Avenue. It creates an attractive, clean, stable body of water that will spawn a whole new community to complement Uptown, with continuous public access along its edge. It allows us to preserve the historic cobblestones and yet still make access to the river safe and hospitable to pedestrians. It gives us a way to generate much-needed revenue from appropriate private development to pay for operating and maintaining expanded and upgraded public spaces along the riverfront.

But most significantly, the land bridge will finally connect Memphis to the Mississippi, giving the city a signature identity that few cities in the world can match.

Benny Lendermon, former public works director for the city of Memphis, is president of the Riverfront Development Corporation.

Copyright 1996-2004 Contemporary Media, Inc.

Tuesday, May 07, 2002

City Council Meeting (portions)

Here are MP3 audio recordings of riverfront-related portions of the City Council meeting (executive and and public sessions) on May 7, 2002. The discussions evidence Council members' exuberance in a rush to endorse the RDC's Master Plan, which some mention they had just received only the night before.

Click these links to download and listen to the MP3 audio:

Portion of executive session (prior to public session) [MP3, 2.5 MB]
Portion of public Session [MP3, 1.8 MB]

Friday, May 03, 2002

Clear cut, it's not

Plans uncertain for Mud Island tract

Memphis Business Journal [link]
by Kate Miller

Ongoing talks between Kevin Hyneman, Henry Turley, Jack Belz and the Riverfront Development Corp. regarding development on Mud Island have intensified after Hyneman began clearing trees from his 21-acre property south of the Auction Street bridge.

Hyneman, whose development plans caused an uproar last year from several Downtown organizations -- including the RDC -- says he no longer wants to develop the land and is in preliminary negotiations to sell it to a joint venture consisting of the three parties for a Harbor Town-like development.

"That's not something that we'd want to be a part of," Hyneman says. "Not that that won't be nice, but we've got a lot on our plate and that won't be a part of our five-year plan."

All parties emphasize that negotiations and plans are still at a preliminary stage, but Turley has an idea of what such a deal might look like.

Belz-Turley, a collaboration that has worked on numerous other Downtown projects -- most recently Uptown -- would form a joint venture with the RDC.

The RDC would contribute city-owned land such as the property it owns west of Island Drive and south of the Auction Bridge. Belz-Turley would guarantee the loan taken out by the joint venture and contribute to the work and planning of the development.

That loan would pay for the acquisition of the land as well as the costly infill.

The Belz-Turley portion of the venture would also contribute about an acre of land Turley owns on the southeast corner of Auction and Island Drive.

Turley says the development wouldn't be identical to Harbor Town but would be of the same quality. It would most likely be mixed-use with single family and multi-family residential development as well as some office space. A small inn or hotel has even been discussed.

The public-private development would also incorporate public access along the Mississippi and Wolf Rivers, including public trails and green spaces.

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