While it dreams of a world-class Beale Street Landing, the Riverfront Development Corporation plans a surface parking lot for the entrance.
The original design is arguably great! horrible! okay. Build it and we will see. But this revised plan to pave part of Tom Lee Park shows no faith in the design, and no vision for the riverfront's future that hasn't been discredited in Memphis' recent past.
RDC President Benny Lendermon's statement of his problem -- that it's too far to walk from the nearest parking lot, especially for excursion tourists -- may be reasonable. But his solution is the same old gray slab. One more anti-urbanist, drive-up experience, another atom in a disconnected downtown. It will disconnect BSL from Tom Lee Park, the Bluff Walk and their hordes of walkers. It will frame the architect's vision with SUVs hidden behind remedial crape myrtles.
If you're to sponsor talks by urban visionaries who place walking at the center of city livability, you can't respond with walk-killing asphalt. Its time to build the new world. Right now.
For instance, why not allow on street parking on Riverside? Riverside is presently a launch pad and tail hook for I-55. Memphis has no need for that much speed in that spot. If it can survive a month completely blocked, Riverside can survive year-round with 30 mph traffic. Allow on street, parallel parking from Beale Street to Coppock Park. It will provide convenience at no cost, other than the salary of the guy who has to unscrew the No Parking signs and screw in the 2 Hour Parking signs. It will slow the traffic on Riverside, creating more (or impeding less) pedestrian flow between Downtown and the Riverfront, which can only be good for Beale Street Landing.
If you want to read/hear about the parking lot and more about our riverfront, go to the Memphis Cobblestones. Its author, Mike Cromer, has been attending, recording, transcribing (!!!), then posting the City Council's budget hearings with the Riverfront Development Corporation.