Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Beale Street Landing to be named after Willie Herenton?

It was December 10, 2007. Benny Lendermon was giving the RDC's Executive Committee an update on the status of Beale Street Landing (BSL). Attendees included Chairman Greg Duckett, Pete Aviotti, John Pontius, Rick Masson, John Stokes, Angus McEachran, and Terry Lynch.

"A lot has happened since our last EC meeting," he told the assembled movers and shakers.

Continues... There had been meetings with Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) and the State Historical Preservation Office (SHPO). Lendermon and others had followed up by meeting with the Shelby County Historical Commission, the Memphis Landmarks Commission, and Memphis Heritage.

Based on the feedback, the RDC had agreed to three key alterations to BSL's design:
  • The steelwork (helical ramp and docking barges) would be a toned-down rust red instead of bright red.
  • There would be more historical interpretation (signs).
  • The largest "Pod A" at the foot of Beale Street would be moved 42 feet closer to Riverside Drive.
As to the southern-most portion of the Cobblestone Landing—an area that Lendermon termed an "unkempt wasteland"—he said there was agreement that BSL should cover over it.

The next steps: Wait for the letter approval from TDOT/SHPO, and obtain the pro forma approval of Landmarks. Benny predicted that they could ask for bids on Phase I of the project shortly after the the first of the new year.

John Stokes chimed in, pointing out that there had been the "rare direct involvement" of the Mayor and Pete Aviotti in lobbying Governor Bredeson. "Lots of behind-the-scenes activity," he said. "Senator Kyle pitched in and got involved, too."

Pete Aviotti, the Mayor's personal assistant and an ex officio member of the RDC Board, was present at this EC meeting. He now spoke up.

"I don't know, this may be a little early. If so, then take it as just a suggestion," he said to the group. "I think we should rename it the Willie Herenton Beale Street Landing."

Apparently it was indeed a little early, because Chairman mumbled a few nice words and then he punted on Aviotti's idea.

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