Beale Street Landing preps for American Queen

(WMC-TV) - The harshest critics of the Beale Street Landing project still might not be "on board" after seeing it finally take shape just north of Tom Lee Park.  But Riverfront Development Corporation President Benny Lendermon believes they are in the minority.

"We have done 39 tours through the facility with I don't know how many people, and 99.9 percent of them are just wowed," said Lendermon.

The project includes a one-of-a-kind floating dock that moved into place this past Sunday.

Workers spent Tuesday on the dock, feverishly preparing for Thursday's arrival of the American Queen.

The six-deck, 400-plus passenger steamboat is operated by a company now based in Memphis.

"Assuming the people down there working are doing what they're supposed to be doing, yeah, the dock is more than ready for the boat,"said Lendermon.

The Beale Street Landing project, including the floating dock, is years behind schedule and has reportedly doubled in cost to around $40 million.

A grass-covered building, which features a restaurant and ticket office, will not be completed until sometime this summer and even then, there will still be more work to do.  Another portion of the park will open about one year from now, according to Lendermon.

An Action News 5 crew will be onboard the American Queen when it arrives in Memphis, Thursday morning, where festivities including a public viewing will take place.

Priscilla Presley is slated to christen the ship during another event on Friday.

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