MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A plan three years in the making to redevelop Tom Lee Park kicked off Wednesday.
Dozens of city leaders and Memphis River Parks Partnership (MRPP) Visionaries gathered for the virtual groundbreaking of the $60 million renovations for Tom Lee Park.
Memphis River Parks Partnership President and CEO Carol Coletta says this has been a long time coming.
“Once we complete it in 2023, we will have for Memphis, 18 blocks of transformed riverfront in less than five years,” Coletta said.
Construction will start at Cutbank Bluff, the park’s new gateway, before moving west of Riverside Drive next year. The Cutbank Bluff will have a redefined park entrance and access point from Vance Avenue and the first ADA-accessible route from up and down the bluff.
”It gives us a really clear path to joining the Bluff -- the top of the bluff which is steep and the riverfront at tom lee park,” Coletta said.
Over the years, Memphis in May organizers felt the park’s redesign limited their ability to host the Beale Street Music Festival and World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest however, everyone was eventually able to compromise on the design to accommodate the festival.
Next year’s festival will still be held at Tom Lee Park.
”It’s going to be really very exciting,” said Coletta. “We hope many people will be making memories in this beautiful new park.”
A Riverfront Steering Committee was appointed to monitor the plans for compliance and agreement.
Wednesday the Army Corps of Engineers said they have been involved with many aspects of the Tom Lee Park Design but did not have any involvement in the Cutbank Bluff portion of the project.