Tuesday, June 05, 2007

WMC-TV: Memphis City Council approves $29 million Beale Street Landing

WMC-TV Channel 5 [link]
Reported by Janice Broach

Below is the full text of the Channel 5 report as posted on the Web. Click here to download an iPod video (9 MB file) of the broadcast segment, which was the lead story on the 10:00 news. It will also play in the latest version of Quicktime. Note: A technical glitch toward the end of the broadcast segment has been edited out, truncating E.C. Jones' remarks.

After taking the project off the table just weeks ago, Tuesday night the Memphis City Council approved Beale Street Landing, a $29 million project that will change the face of Memphis' riverfront. At Tuesday night's council meeting, many in attendance made it clear they didn't like the idea.

"My big problem with the design for the Beale Street Landing is that it does not say 'This is Memphis.' It is not Memphis...it could be anywhere," said Linda Ireland.

"The price tag is 29.4 million dollars," said Susan Caldwell. "It's a lot of money. It's almost half of what we paid for the Pyramid, and all of it is taxpayer money."

"There are a lot of assets downtown with much less money with views, public access, and with things to do," said Steve Sondheim. "There's really nothing the public can do in this facility but look at each other and wait for an occasional boat that may or may not come."

Council member E. C. Jones said Memphis needs to spend the money on more important things.

"Every time you put a project downtown it takes away from somewhere else in the city," he said. "I think we spent a lot of money downtown. We got the river walk. The mayor's done a great job on downtown. At some point, are you going to just continue, and forget about the other people in the city?"

$10 million of the $29 million project cost of the project will come from state and federal money. That money can only be used for this riverfront project, and if there had been any more delays in approving Beale Street Landing, the money would have been lost.

Work on the Beale Street Landing project could start as early as this fall. It is expected to take two years to complete.

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