Saturday, July 29, 2006

Editorial: Rollin' on the River

The Commercial Appeal
Editorial
July 29, 2006

Pardon the metaphor, but the city's plans to spend $29.3 million on Beale Street Landing seem to be moving along like a tiny twig caught in the currents of the mighty Mississippi.

The Memphis Landmarks Commission recently granted one of the approvals needed for work to continue on the riverboat landing and civic plaza planned at the western end of the city's most famous street.

Although there seems to be little political will to swim upstream now, it's fair to wonder if this project should be reexamined in light of new developments.

The design for Beale Street Landing was born in 2003, back when the city's financial situation was on much higher ground than it is today.

Also, the Riverfront Development Corp. decided several months ago to give up on a land bridge that was considered the centerpiece of its master riverfront plan.

One might ask if a new riverboat docking facility is still needed under the reconfigured plan. The land bridge would have required smaller boats to dock along the historic cobblestones, which, in turn, would have necessitated moving the larger riverboats to Beale Street Landing.

Benny Lendermon, the RDC's president, still believes the riverboats need a new and improved docking facility -- and maybe he's right.

But Memphis City Council members are giving this project far less scrutiny than they did to the FedExForum.

And we all know how well that worked out.

Copyright 2006, commercialappeal.com - Memphis, TN. All Rights Reserved.

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Friday, July 28, 2006

Beale Street Landing work OK'd

The Commercial Appeal
By Yann Ranaivo
July 28, 2006

Architects Danny Bounds and Paul Gillespie can build Beale Street Landing over an archaeological site on the Wolf River Harbor.

Memphis Landmarks Commission recently approved a permit to build over the historic site near the cobblestones at their meeting with Bounds and Riverfront Development Corp. president Benny Lendermon.

Relics from 19th Century Memphis remain buried under the cobblestones at the site.

The permit was issued under the condition that Bounds and Gillespie Architects and the RDC would have a ready source of replacement cobblestones if the existing ones are lost or damaged during building.

Landmarks Commission manager Nancy Baker said the replacement provision was necessary because they're building so close to the cobblestones.

"They can rattle them and make them move. Some have already begun falling into the Wolf River Harbor," she said.

If replacement cobblestones are needed, Memphis public works director Jerry Collins said he would provide them at no cost.

Beale Street Landing will include a park with walkways and islet terraces at different elevations to accommodate the changing Mississippi River levels and provide an attractive link to the cobblestones.

There will also be a terminal building, parking garage and floating dock, which will provide docking for commercial excursion vessels. State and federal funds will provide more than $10 million for the $27.3 million project.

Bounds and RDC also released the final designs for the landing, but Lendermon said the only significant change is the grass roof of the terminal building, which blends in with Tom Lee Park.

Phase one of the project, widening the Wolf River channel, began last spring. Bounds expects phase two, building the rim wall along the shoreline, to begin in late fall. The project should be completed by late 2007 or early 2008 "depending on the level of the river," Bounds said.

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