Push for pedestrian bridge construction in Pinch District - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Push for pedestrian bridge construction in Pinch District

(Source: Bass Pro Shops) (Source: Bass Pro Shops)

As Bass Pro Shops' opening day swiftly approaches, Pinch District business owners are beginning to wonder when or if the pedestrian bridge will manifest.

When Bass Pro Shops originally presented its plans to the Memphis Downtown Commission's Design Review Board, it included a new pedestrian bridge on the east side of the building that would link the renovated Pyramid to the Pinch District.

The distance between the Pyramid and sidewalk is roughly the length of a football field. Some worry that's just enough inconvenience to prevent some from visiting the district.

Westy's owner Jack Schorr is one of the last restaurants to keep its doors open in recent months.

"I've talked about it for years, and it's not there and it doesn't look like it's going to be there," said Schorr.

Trolley fires put trolleys out of commission, and now traffic is scarce in the district.

T.J. Mulligan's, Precious Cargo Talk and Coffee Shop have closed its doors.

Schorr said the whole area would benefit from the pedestrian bridge, and it even would be beneficial for nearby St. Jude patients and their families.

"It would be great exercise for the patients to walk directly there," said Schorr.

Downtown Memphis Commission President Paul Morris said the pedestrian bridge was a condition of design approval by the review board.

Morris said the question is not if the bridge will be put in, but when.

This is the second issue for the neighborhood in regards to Bass Pro designs. In 2013, seismic issues prompted Bass Pro to change the location of its front entrance. The entrance was supposed to face east towards the Pinch District, but higher seismic requirements forced the entrance to face south instead.

Jim and Katia Turner said bridge or no bridge, they'll visit Bass Pro and Pinch.

"I think they're going to come anyway, whether they have the bridge or not," said Turner. "As soon as that Bass Pro place opens, I think there's going to be all types of activity and all kids of people down here."

Schorr has a positive outlook on the future developments.

"The good thing is he's [John Morris, Bass Pro Shops Founder] here. He's going to bring people here," said Schorr. "He's going to help create jobs. Not only his jobs, but for overnight stays at the hotels, restaurants."

This week, Bass Pro moved their opening date from May 1 to April 29.

Many say that's not enough time to build a bridge.

The city is working on a Pinch District redevelopment plan.

The City of Memphis released the following statement:

City of Memphis and Bass Pro Shops are dedicated to connecting the Pinch and the Pyramid. When Bass Pro increased the number of hotel rooms for this one-of-a-kind project from 60 to 103, the design and location of the hotel within the building precluded the use of the previous pedestrian bridge. The location for a new pedestrian bridge is presently being evaluated, particularly as it relates to accessibility to the trolley stop on the south side of The Pyramid. However, people parking in the Pinch have easy access to Bass Pro through its north entrance now and when the bridge is built.

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