Monday, June 09, 2008

Where Do We Deserve an Urban Waterfront?

Wagner Place.

The Bluff and flooding have always separated downtown Memphis from the River. However, this location could very much satisfy Jeff Speck's suggestion for these reasons:
  • Closest that urban downtown comes to the river.

  • Smallest Bluff drop to the Riverfront.

  • City of Memphis owns the property.

  • No easements as with the Promenade, so it can be developed commercially.

  • Adjacent with the Promenade so public developments like the University of Memphis Law School and extension of the Bluff Walk are perfectly complementary.

  • Will create back-and-forth walking continuity between downtown and Tom Lee Park/Beale Street Landing/Cobblestones.

  • It's presently a surface parking lot so (almost) any urban development is a step forward.

  • If Memphis is serious about 2 other Speck suggestions -- fixing the 3rd St. Promenot and the Main/South Main knuckle -- we would have a continuous downtown from Autozone Park to Peabody Place to Beale Street to Main Street South Main to the Riverfront.

  • Because the Cobblestones are a man-made extension onto the River and this site is in front of the Cobblestones, this would be very much an urban waterfront.

  • Because it would be between the River and Autozone Headquarters/Waterford Plaza, any development would have to be the 3 or 4 story buildings that Speck used as in his presentation (example). Which for me is an advantage.

  • What are the downsides?

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Blogger Michael said...

Sounds good. Downsides:

RDC plans to shut down the cobblestones as a commercial landing. They don't want people walking on them for fear of lawsuits. They'd rather force people to embark /disembark the excursion boats at BSL, presumably because they can charge much higher fees and it helps justify the $30M boat dock we didn't really need. Your urban waterfront would be much cooler if the cobblestones still had activity, but the stones will be dead.

Second, there are a couple of residences down there, whose view would be blocked. They'd likely object.

10:52 PM  
Blogger gatesofmemphis said...

I figure they're not dead until they're destroyed. Unfortunately, if what you're projecting comes to pass, the cobblestones won't be used which will bring out the "it's empty, destroy it!" squad (see the Pyramid, see the TN Brewery, see the Sterick, ad destructum).

re: the views blocked. I think it would be important enough to trade the riverview side with anyone who objected. You would still have a street between the "urban waterfront" and the present buildings. As long as you plan the east facing side that by the same principles (not just a utility entrance ala the back of strip malls), the trade would be valuable for everyone because it will make the blocked side even more valuable.

12:27 AM  

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