Friday, May 13, 1994

Herenton set to boost Memphis riverfront

Commercial Appeal
By Roland Klose

Mayor W. W. Herenton will announce plans today for a comprehensive plan to develop the Memphis riverfront, capitalizing on what city officials have called one of the city's greatest but most neglected assets.

The plan includes the formation of a riverfront authority that can issue bonds, lease property and grant tax freezes.

The authority -- called the Memphis Riverfront Redevelopment Corp. -- would be organized under state law as an industrial development board.

Initial funding of about $200,000 for the board would come from the division of Housing and Community Development, according to a summary of the plan.

The goal is to encourage private investment into riverfront development, while providing oversight.

The riverfront plan calls for coordinating projects that already have been approved, including the $3.9 million downtown welcome center dedicated Thursday at a groundbreaking ceremony.

Projects that have been on the drawing board for years will be accelerated under the proposal, including renovation of the historic cobblestones.

The cobblestones are uneven and make walking and driving difficult.

Included in the plan is completion of a recreational trail from Shelby Forest in the north to the Indian mounds at DeSoto Park in the south.

The plan identifies more than $85 million in public improvements, including a $12.2 million extension of the trolley loop along Riverside Drive already included in the city's capital budget.

Also on the list is the $21 million preservation of the vacant Tennessee Brewery at 477 Tennessee in the South Bluffs district and a $26 million completion of amenities in The Pyramid.

A $1 million facelift of Confederate Park also is part of the plan.

The plan also calls for creating attractive "gateway" streets leading from downtown, and connecting the key downtown neighborhoods of The Pinch, Greenlaw and South Main area.

The plan is designed to turn the riverfront into a magnet for attracting tourists, emphasizing Mississippi River history and activity.

The plan calls for a yearlong celebration of the state's bicentennial observance in 1996 that would celebrate Memphis progress.

Development of the riverfront has been one of Herenton's top priorities since taking office in 1992.

Copyright 1994, The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, TN

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