Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Successes of the Riverfront Development Corporation

Customs House Wall, Memphis PromenadeThis is an easy post, because the successes are listed here.

Given the rancor that follows the RDC, this might read like sarcasm. It's not -- these are real accomplishments that the RDC and Memphis can be proud of.

Each of the projects is a) well-done, b) evolutionary, building on the work begun by many others such as Boss Crump, Paul Coppock, Mayors Hackett and Herenton, Tandy Gilliland, Henry Turley, etc.; c) relatively low-cost; d) a detail of a place, rather than a place itself.

Tom Lee Park is a great success due to many of these details. It's a vibrant, friendly, diverse, connected, beautiful place that gets better all the time, as its trees grow and the Bluff Walk expands. It's a model that already exists, right in front of our eyes. And the RDC has been a big part of that.

How do we extend the success to the riverfront from Beale to Auction? The RDC's big answer has been major projects like Beale Street Landing and the commercial development of the Public Promenade -- probably well-done, but not evolutionary, not low-cost and not details, but major places themselves. Those projects are deviations from the organic recipe that has worked so well for them and the Memphis riverfront, at Tom Lee Park and Mud Island.

Am I being conservative? I am. Let nature and history be the primary shapers of the riverfront, rather than dam-the-Yangtze style visions.

RDC succeeds, and very well, as steward of a more organic vision. They should keep adding Memphis-class details to an universe-class riverfront.

Huling Avenue Steps, Memphis Riverfront

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with you that the RDC has done some small, good improvements.
However, I think the Beale Street Landing is a good project because right now there's nothing but inaccessible land. It's going to take something large and dramatic to improve that stretch of the riverfront. I don't like the promenade plan, but that too, will require something fairly dramatic (whether a park or public building) in order for the public to enjoy it.

4:09 PM  
Blogger gatesofmemphis said...

I believe that the portion of the bank from Tom Lee to Jefferson Davis Park is inaccessible because ... there's no access. It has the River, it has the beautiful cobblestones, but it's hard as hell to reach much of it because there are few stairs, and none near Tom Lee and Beale.

Beale Street Landing may be a good project, but it defies the KISS principle. The RDC's applying their knack for details (e.g.,with staircases) to the area of BSL would have the same dramatic effect, with less cost and much less citizen opposition.

thanks for reading and commenting.

8:50 PM  
Blogger Todd said...

If it weren't for the RDC, the bluff walk never would have been built. A group of downtowners vehemently opposed it because rich people didn't want regular folks near there homes and some large, old magnolias had to go. Now it is an amazing Memphis asset. Those same people are now fighting bluff development upriver with almost the same passion. Those people also fought One Beale. Thankfully, they lost.

11:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good lord, what are you smoking, Todd? The RDC had nothing to do with the Bluff Walk. The RDC didn't even exist. You are so misinformed about who opposed what and why.

10:40 AM  

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