VOL. 132 | NO. 174 | Friday, September 1, 2017
Strickland Seeks $21.5M to Begin Work on Convention Center, Gateway
By Bill Dries
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland is seeking $21.5 million in immediate funding for pre-construction and early construction work on two projects on Downtown's north end: the long-awaited renovation of the Memphis Convention Center and to begin specific planning, land acquisition and construction for the Bicentennial Gateway project that includes the convention center and the Pinch District area north of it.
Strickland and his administration will take the two funding resolutions – $10 million for the convention center and $11.5 million for the gateway – to Memphis City Council members at a Tuesday, Sept. 5, committee session, citing the use of surplus sales tax funds collected in the Downtown Tourism Development Zone.
Neither item is currently on Tuesday’s council agenda for a vote but could be added during the committee session earlier in the day at City Hall.
The $10 million convention center advance would come from city reserves as well as the TDZ surplus. The administration cites “an aggressive construction timeline, pre-construction cost, including A&E (architecture and engineering), program management, environmental studies, traffic studies, and legal fees” in the resolution.
“Once permanent funding is secured, the administration will reimburse both the TDZ excess funds and the general fund reserves, if used, for the amount of costs that were advanced for pre-construction funding.”
The tentative estimate of the cost of the convention center renovations including a new exterior for the center as well as interior changes has been around $60 million total.
The Bicentennial Gateway Project is centered on the nine-block area between Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital campus. But it also includes the convention center renovation as well as a new pedestrian bridge from the east side of the Pyramid to Front Street that was demolished when the Pyramid was repurposed as a Bass Pro Shops store.
And the city intends to propose that the state expand the Downtown Tourism Development Zone to include using the sales tax increment it captures on the riverfront and Mud Island River Park as well as “a pedestrian bridge connecting to the southern end of Mud Island to the Riverfront,” according to the resolution.
The TDZ surplus the administration is specifically requesting council approval of for the Gateway project would be $750,000 for architecture and engineering, $4.7 million for land acquisition and $6 million for construction.