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VOL. 131 | NO. 15 | Thursday, January 21, 2016

Bass Pro Shops Eyes Mud Island

By Bill Dries

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Mud Island’s neighbor to the east is interested in redeveloping the river park.

Bass Pro Shops is among the five companies that have submitted proposals to the Riverfront Development Corp. to oversee Mud Island River Park. And all five have advanced to a second round of the process without the RDC releasing details of the material they submitted.

The only clue in a statement released by the RDC Wednesday, Jan. 20, is that some wanted to redevelop the entire park while others wanted to take on parts.

Bass Pro Shops is one of five companies that have applied to redevelop Mud Island River Park. All five now advance to a second round in which they outline specific plans and financing.

(Daily News File Photo)

The four companies, in addition to Bass Pro Shops are: RVC Outdoor Destinations, Mansion Entertainment and Media LLC, Memphis Equity Brand Management and ML Professional Properties.

RVC Outdoor founder Andy Cates has talked publicly about his company’s detailed proposal for the entire river park. It includes a Greenbelt Park extension on the island’s northern half to its southern tip, cottages and safari tents for camping experiences and a refurbished amphitheater and river walk.

It was Cates’ interest in the park that prompted former Mayor A C Wharton to seek a request for qualifications through the RDC, which has included a redeveloped Mud Island park in its long-term plans for the riverfront properties it manages and operates for the city of Memphis.

The next stage is to get specific proposals, including detailed financial information, from each of the five companies within 60 days.

Kevin Kane, chairman of the RDC’s selection committee, said that phase is “probably more important than the first.”

“How the entities intend to fund their proposals without city dollars will likely dictate which submissions have the best potential for success,” Kane said in a prepared statement.

ML Professional Properties is the company of Mark Lovell, founder of the Delta Fair . The company puts on similar fairs, expos and trade shows across the country.

“How the entities intend to fund their proposals ... will likely dictate which submissions have the best potential.”

–Kevin Kane

Lovell also submitted a proposal to manage the Beale Street Entertainment District; the Beale Street Tourism Development Authority currently is considering that proposal.

Cursory searches for information on Mansion Entertainment and Media and Memphis Equity Brand Management didn’t turn up any specific information.

Bass Pro Shops is the second tenant of The Pyramid to express interest in running the river park across the Wolf River Harbor.

In the early 1990s, city officials turned over control of the river park to Great American Pyramid developer Sidney Shlenker, who developed a set of plans for park attractions.

Ultimately, he never secured the financing for any of the plans, including those in The Pyramid.

By the time the building opened as an arena in late 1991, Shlenker’s Great American Pyramid name was dropped. City and county leaders ended his involvement with both projects following a split with his partner in the venture, John Tigrett.

PROPERTY SALES 91 293 13,051
MORTGAGES 58 168 8,171
BUILDING PERMITS 99 744 30,678
BANKRUPTCIES 34 156 6,220