MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The City of Memphis is moving forward with a plan to transform downtown, but they need state approval to do it.
City leaders first started talking about the Bicentennial Gateway Project earlier in 2017, and now they're putting their application together by the end of
the month to let the state of Tennessee give them the go ahead.
"I think the importance is that we will create a new gateway for this city," said Paul Young, director of Housing and Community Development.
The renderings show a breathtaking fresh look for downtown Memphis, one Young said could bring more tourism dollars into the city by getting the 40 million people crossing the I-40 bridge yearly to stop and spend.
"We want them to see something exciting when they come over that bridge and have something in our downtown that makes them want to get off the interstate and come spend money in the city of Memphis," Young said.
The city is asking the state to sign off on its five-pronged downtown revitalization plan, which includes Uptown, the Cook Convention Center, the Pinch District, Mud Island, and the Riverfront.
The city also wants Mud Island and the Riverfront to be added to an existing Tourism Development Zone (TDZ) downtown. That would mean sales tax revenue, captured since the base year of 2001, could be used in those areas for redevelopment.
Young said there's an estimated $71 million to be spent in the tourism development zone over the next 13 years.
As much as $12 million has already been committed in the redevelopment plan of the Pinch District.
"As we build and grow and build more tourist attractions to this city specifically downtown, all of those funds will be used to continue to grow the area," said Young.
The proposed improvements are something Memphian Cody Wilmath said he supports.
"It's bringing in more tourists," Wilmath said. "It's easier on the eye. There's no reason not to."
The city is also in the design phase for a pedestrian bridge to connect Bass Pro at the Pyramid to the Pinch District.
Young said that work could begin by early 2018.