VOL. 123 | NO. 225 | Monday, November 17, 2008
Bass Pro Development Agreement Clears Last Hurdle
By Bill Dries
There is a development agreement between Bass Pro Shops and Memphis and Shelby County governments.
The Board of Shelby County Commissioners approved the development agreement this afternoon on a 9-3 vote. The Memphis City Council approved the same agreement earlier this month.
Today's vote means a team of attorneys representing both governments will now begin negotiating the terms of a lease agreement in the next year.
The development agreement spans a year with quarterly milestones Bass Pro must meet. During the year, Bass Pro will pay the city and county $35,000 a month. The agreement does not bind Bass Pro to building and opening a retail store with other attractions in The Pyramid. It sets the stage for negotiations on the long term lease that would include an estimated $150 million reuse of the 17 year old structure originally built and used as an arena.
In the next year, Bass Pro will undertake feasibility studies and draw up design plans. The hunting and fishing retailer can walk away from the project during that year.
Memphis Housing & Community Development Director Robert Lipscomb, who leads the government negotiating team, said he would immediately inform Bass Pro executives and see if they are still interested in the idea.
Commissioners on both sides of the vote cited national economic conditions as a reason to vote for and against the contract.
Lipscomb said he last talked with Bass Pro executives Thursday. He described them as still willing to move toward lease negotiations. But he also said they had "doubts" about the long delay in County Commission approval as well as concerns about the national economic downturn.
Voting yes were: Joyce Avery, George Flinn, Mike Carpenter, J.W. Gibson, Henri Brooks, James Harvey, Sidney Chism, Joe Ford, and Chairwoman Deidre Malone.
Voting no were: Mike Ritz, Wyatt Bunker and Steve Mulroy.
Commissioner David Lillard recused himself because his law firm has represented Cummings Street Baptist Church, which made a proposal earlier this year to buy The Pyramid.