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VOL. 132 | NO. 61 | Monday, March 27, 2017

RDC President Gives Riverfront Update

By Patrick Lantrip

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Pop-up parks, cruise lines and plans to enhance existing attractions were all topics Riverfront Development Corp. president Benny Lendermon touched on during a state of the riverfront he delivered Friday, March 24, to the Downtown Memphis Commission.

Riverfront Development Corp. president Benny Lendermon said Friday, March 24, that Beale Street Landing had an economic impact of $38.7 million in 2016 alone, mainly the result of cruise ships docking there. He said the number of landings will grow from 43 in 2016 to 60 in 2017. 

(Daily News File/Andrew J. Breig)

“The cooperation and working relationship between the DMC and RDC over the past few years has been incredible,” Lendermon said. “(I) hope it stays that way because in Memphis it is so hard to get things done without people working together.”

Lendermon said the RDC is pushing the city to make a decision on the future of Mud Island because, in his opinion, the island park in its current state has gone about as far as it can.

“It would take a big influx of money that we are not sure our community has the ability to do,” he said. “Or you could rethink (Mud Island) and do something else.”

To the south, Beale Street Landing may be the “most misunderstood project in the history of Memphis,” Lendermon said.

“When we built Beale Street Landing, we were building it as a park, as an amenity and also to accommodate the boats,” he said.

Which he noted outpaced other popular amenities such as Shelby Farms, AutoZone Park and the Children’s Museum of Memphis in producing an economic impact of $38.7 million in 2016 alone, which is mainly the result of cruise ships docking at the landing as they traverse the Mississippi River. Lendermon said landings will grow from 43 in 2016 to 60 in 2017.

The third aspect of the riverfront Lendermon discussed is Civic Commons, which is a group of national funders who joined forces to improve public spaces in a way that brings people of all socioeconomic backgrounds together.

“They had a competition among cities and they selected five cites to give $5 million to if that city matched it with $5 million, and Memphis was the winner of one of those awards,” Lendermon said.

The improvement funds will focus on three assets: Memphis Park, Mississippi River Park and the Cossitt Library.

“They care about Memphis being able to take public property and improve it a way that brings people together,” he said.

The Riverside pop-up park, which would front Mississippi River Park, is one of the projects the city is still looking into following the success of the pop-up Fourth Bluff Ice Rink that was installed last December.

This next proposed pop-up park would possibly include basketball courts, roller skating, checkers, chess, ping pong and a mural.

“We are putting our fingerprints on the work that is happening at the riverfront,” DMC president Terence Patterson said. “I don’t want to understate the collaboration that’s already at play.”

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