Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Center City Design Review Board

The Center City Commission's Design Review Board met at 5:00 pm today to give its pro forma approval to the current Beale Street Landing design. Click here to see the full text or hear the audio of my remarks delivered to that board, speaking as a concerned citizen of Memphis.Here is the text and audio of my remarks:

Members of the Design Review Board:

Beale Street Landing might be, as some like to say, "the most-reviewed plan in the history of Memphis."

But it is like that old story about the series of blindfolded people, each led into a room and allowed to touch a different part of an elephant – but none of them allowed to see the whole thing.

You will be last sign off on the plan for Beale Street Landing – without having seen a plan of record for the Cobblestone Landing. I believe this is a big mistake.

I've had a glimpse of the preliminary Cobblestone Plan. If you were allowed to see both plans together – the whole elephant – you might realize what's very wrong.

The whole plan – the "elephant plan" – is in direct contradiction to the 2002 Cooper Robertson design for the Riverfront, commonly known as "Master Plan".

For example: The Master Plan said that BSL would be an enhancement for the important boat landing at the Cobblestones. The elephant plan makes BSL the only landing. Riverboats of any size will no longer dock at the Cobblestone Landing.

For example: The Master Plan said that the Cobblestone area is the centerpiece of the Riverfront, with Union Avenue as its central artery. The elephant plan says that BSL is the centerpiece and that Beale Street is the main artery.

I could spend my whole time on ways the elephant plan goes in the wrong direction compared to the Master plan, as well as to every plan in the past 20 years. But I will simply ask: Has that Cooper Robertson plan been forgotten? Has it been rescinded? Does it matter any more?

The part of the elephant that you don't see is this: The Cobblestone Landing, which has been in continuous, active, commercial use for over 150 years, will be de-commissioned. Tourists and Memphians will no longer be able to board even the daily excursion boats at the Cobblestones.

Instead, they will wait in one of those pods until boarding time, go through metal detectors and homeland security, go to the farthest end of BSL, traverse a burnt-red painted, steel corkscrew and walkway, for only as long as it takes to board, and be whisked away from Memphis.

The elephant plan not only disrespects Memphis and its history, but it will surely impact tourism, by taking away a wonderful experience that is unique to Memphis. There will be no reason to for you to visit the Cobblestone area. You will just look at it from a pod. The historic Cobblestone district will become a mausoleum for those bygone days.

Click here to hear the audio (3:03 minutes)

1 comment:

Makaila said...

Well written article.