VOL. 133 | NO. 103 | Wednesday, May 23, 2018
State Approves Downtown TDZ Expansion
By Patrick Lantrip
Plans for the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art’s move Downtown and a new aquarium took a major step forward as the State Building Commission’s executive subcommittee approved the addition of Mud Island and the riverfront to the city’s Downtown Tourism Development Zone (TDZ) on Tuesday, May 22.
The decision to modify the TDZ, which includes the Pinch District, Bass Pro Shops and the Memphis Cook Convention Center, paves the way for the redevelopment of Mud Island River Park and a new Brooks Museum on Front Street between Union and Monroe Avenues.
The modification of the TDZ allows sales tax revenue increment captured in the Downtown area to be used for the riverfront projects in additon to the other original uses.
Plans for the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art’s move downtown and a new aquarium took a major step forward.
(Daily News File)
“Today’s approval is a major step forward in our momentum and in building a world-class riverfront — one that both Memphians and visitors to our city will enjoy,” Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said in a statement. “We’re grateful for the help of Department of Finance and Administration Commissioner Larry Martin and all of the constitutional officers who worked with the city to make this a reality.”
The city said its next step is to conduct “feasibility studies for the new projects, which will also require significant private investment.”
TDZs are typically used to help fund large-scale projects without impacting the city’s operating budget by using the sales tax generated by the project to fund it.
The riverfront development plan including a "cultural asset" on Front Street, an aquarium linked to the current Mississippi River Museum on Mud Island's south end and a land bridge across the Wolf River harbor connecting the two was part of a larger riverfront "concept plan" presented by design consultants Studio Gang in July 2017.
In August, the board of the Brooks announced it would pursue a move of the museum to the riverfront, specifically on the block identified as a "cultural asset" in the Studio Gang plan.
The museum expects any new museum to take at least five years to design, raise private money for and open to the public.
The aquarium plan is also raising private money and is an adaptation of an aquarium a group of Memphians proposed for the Pyramid. The city administration at the time instead pursued the current reuse of the Pyramid by Bass Pro Shops.