VOL. 11 | NO. 30 | Saturday, July 28, 2018
Editorial: One Beale’s New Course Mirrors Same Ambition
The One Beale development isn’t what we thought it would be – a skyline-reorienting vertical thrust of glass and steel ambition – and there is nothing wrong with that.
In the move from high-rise to mid-rise, the project spreads to the east, creating more evidence of a riverfront that aspires to connect to the rest of Downtown.
The late Downtown developer Gene Carlisle had a skyscraping vision at the corner of Riverside Drive and Beale Street, and that might still be possible. But as the due diligence of financing mingles with educated guesses about the economic cycle of boom and bust, it’s time for a foundation.
That foundation is about bringing our day-to-day life as a city to this area and connecting it to other signs of life nearby. It’s about new spirits at Old Dominick Distillery, the arrival of a reborn Central Station, and the riptide created by dozens of similar individual ripples.
For all of the talk about being an “it city” and the necessary uneasiness about the transitory nature of that status, how the evolving Memphis works on a human scale remains the coin of the realm.
Three years ago in this same space, we said One Beale’s two-tower plan was “a big dose of reality about density all at once.”
At that time, the One Beale plan called for a 30-story tower and a 22-story tower on the corner of Riverside and Beale atop a parking garage built into the side of the bluff. There were concerns about whether it was too much density and too much change all at once.
Three years later, we are still trying to grasp the reality of density on multiple levels – not the least of which is building better public transportation without the luxury of being able to blow up the existing system.
Today, you hear city leaders talk about building the city up and not out. That “building up” philosophy includes plans for a second convention center hotel complex that takes in the city’s tallest structure, 100 North Main, as well as several other towers to be built on the same block with it.
Much of the attention is on how high these buildings are. But arguably the more important part of the plan is the horizontal spread of this project, which could include putting the hotel at what is now the Memphis Police headquarters building at 170 North Main, closer to the Memphis Cook Convention Center.
The considerations of and alterations to One Beale are about more than a single project. For all of the starts and stops, setbacks and unexpected moves in new directions, we believe it is an indication of a city whose time has come and an agile ambition that is not easily deterred.
We still hear more discussion about who we are building this density for whether it is up or out or both. And the change in plans for One Beale doesn’t change that vital aspect of Memphis and Memphians taking their destiny in hand.