Construction begins on massive Tom Lee Park redesign

Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 5:02 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Construction officially began Thursday for the Tom Lee Park redesign and is scheduled to finish in 2023.

This is the beginning a major facelift for downtown Memphis, one that officials hope will attract people to the Bluff City.

For 100 years Tom Lee Park has remained relatively the same. That changed in a dramatic way Thursday.

“The most exciting part is just the idea of finally after 100 years of planning to get a riverfront, an ambitious riverfront that Memphians deserve,” Carole Coletta, President and CEO of Memphis River Parks Partnership said.

Thursday was “demolition day” for the public bathroom building as construction started.

“We’re tearing down, we’re ready to roll and in two years, we’re going to deliver a great park for Memphis,” Coletta said.

“This is a staple project for us and I couldn’t be more excited to work on it,” Adam Moore, Project Manager for Montgomery Martin Contractors said.

The complete overhaul of Tom Lee Park received approval from the Mayor’s Riverfront Steering Committee and a 408 permit approval from the Army Corps of engineers this week, paving the way for work to start as soon as possible.

The finished project will turn this mostly flat park into a series of varied topography with many structures like a large canopy, modernizing the riverfront space.

“It’s a really unique construction for all of us, so it’s a lot of details a lot of landscape planning so it’s a lot of coordination for sure,” Moore said.

Adam Moore is one of the project managers for Montgomery Martin Contractors, working on the park redesign.

Montgomery Martin is the same construction company who helped create Shelby Farms Park. Moore says he hopes this work will transform Tom Lee Park into another calling card for Memphis.

“It’s the first thing you see when you come to the city, it’s right on the river,” Moore said. “It’s going to add so many amenities to downtown, it’s going to pull people downtown.”

Carole Coletta is the President and CEO of Memphis River Parks Partnership and he went through a long litigation process with Memphis In May that eventually came to a compromise to allow for the overhaul.

“I think this will make us a lot more attractive,” Coletta said. “I looked at river fronts and water fronts all over the world. We’ve got the best river, we’ve got the best river view. Now we just the best river front, and I think that’s what we’re trying to deliver.

Riverside Drive will be transformed as well during this time but traffic will remain open while the work is being done.

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