Bass Pro, city officials work on lease agreement

Artist's rendering of the Pyramid Bass Pro location.
Artist's rendering of the Pyramid Bass Pro location.

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Officials from Bass Pro Shops met with city officials in Memphis Tuesday to hash out a lease agreement to take over the empty Pyramid Arena.

All day Tuesday, Bass Pro President Jim Hagale and his team met on the 7th floor of Memphis City Hall with Mayor A C Wharton and his team.  Also attending the meeting via telephone was the founder of Bass Pro Shops, John Morris.

Amid lease negotiations with attorneys, planners and engineers from both camps, Wharton shared a new addition to the Bass Pro plan: development of the surrounding Pinch District.

"(We will be) Bringing development there and the accompanying retail operations," he said.

According to Wharton, Poag and McEwen will lead the redevelopment project. They are currently developing retail centers in Memphis' Highland area, and in Germantown.

"The whole idea was to try to turn this into a true community instead of a building sitting there and you walk through a desert," Wharton said.

The project engineer is architecture firm owner Tom Marshall.

Wharton said he trusts Bass Pro will make good and sign a binding contract.

"If they weren't committed, I think they have plenty of other places to go than to run a charade through here," he said.

The lease would last 20 years with renewal periods. Bass Pro will continue to pay $35,000 dollars per month for the Pyramid, until they become a full-blown tenant. When the store opens, the city gets a percentage of Bass Pro's gross revenues, and taxes on the property.

"I see this as the anchor tenant that is going to draw in all the others where we will become a destination spot," Wharton said.

Wharton said he expects people from surrounding areas, including Jonesboro, Tupelo, and the Kentucky and Missouri borders to visit the Pyramid Bass Pro location.  But, the expansion could delay Bass Pro's November 2011 grand opening.

Wharton said that is good news, and asked for the community's patience.

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