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Riverfront Development vs. Friends For Our Riverfront

Memphis' Riverfront Plan   35 members have voted

  1. 1. Who's plan do you like more?

    • RDC
      23
    • FFOR
      12

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32 posts in this topic

For the past few years, Friends for our Riverfront and the Riverfront Development Corportation have been debating each other about what to do with our Riverfront. I'm not exactly sure of what either side is proposing but from what I infer, Friends For Our Riverfront wants more greenspace and the RDC is pushing for mixed use development. You can see some plans and renderings of the proposal here...

RDCs plan:

http://www.memphisriverfront.com/riverfron...&page_parent=54

Friends For Our Riverfront plan:

http://www.friendsforourriverfront.org/200...-7-million.html

The RDC is seen as wanting to turn the Memphis riverfront into Manhattan and the FFOR is seen as a biased group of NIMBY's from the South Bluffs who don't want their views of the Mississippi blocked. Who's plan do you support and why?

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For the past few years, Friends for our Riverfront and the Riverfront Development Corportation have been debating each other about what to do with our Riverfront. I'm not exactly sure of what either side is proposing but from what I infer, Friends For Our Riverfront wants more greenspace and the RDC is pushing for mixed use development. You can see some plans and renderings of the proposal here...

RDCs plan:

http://www.memphisriverfront.com/riverfron...&page_parent=54

Friends For Our Riverfront plan:

http://www.friendsforourriverfront.org/200...-7-million.html

The RDC is seen as wanting to turn the Memphis riverfront into Manhattan and the FFOR is seen as a biased group of NIMBY's from the South Bluffs who don't want their views of the Mississippi blocked. Who's plan do you support and why?

IF it's one or the other, it's definitely the RDC. I'd like to see more greenspace in their plan (instead of what looks like 100% sidewalks on some of the parcels), but I'd like some development, like museums or midrises. Maybe bisect a couple of the parcels into a western and eastern part, and turn the western part into greenspace, and build on the east (fronting Front). I'd definitely like to see a 10-15 (or taller) story building on one of the parcels. The north one, and for that parcel, if the public space is 100% sidewalks like in the picture, that might be ok. Keep the park that's already there. On the law school's future parcel, I'd like to see the western half of that turned into greenspace, and the southeast part reserved for future use for the school (i.e. expansion, future development). The southernmost parcel, again, divide that in 1/2, turn the western portion into greenspace, and the eastern portion into a midrise, 15 stories at most, perhaps a couple or a few buildings at staggered heights, or one building that steps down toward Union. I think if you back up the sidewalk plazas away from the river, and put greenspace there, that would be a nice combination of two worthy purposes. Each block should also have maybe one or two public monument landmarks that help define the public trail (big statues, water features, fountains, etc).

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ya i was going for the RDC plan..

but its dead, and from what ive heard been dead for about a year

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ya i was going for the RDC plan..

but its dead, and from what ive heard been dead for about a year

I don't think it is completely dead...I think the land bridge to mud island is out now.

What I don't get is why the Friends for our Riverfront members seemed to ignore all of the meetings that RDC set up with the public to get their input. They knew that the RDC was trying to get public input, but they waited until RDC spent a lot of money on making extensive plans, and then started complaining.

It also bothers me that some of the main FFOR members are Overton heirs, but aren't up front about it.

___

In the end, I do want to see all the parking garages gone from the promenade. I would like to see classical-styled buildings with the big greek columns and ornate designs that match the time period of the other historic buildings in the area. Nothing too tall, and nothing that would get dated quickly. (city hall is an example of a dated building that is terribly ugly now.)

I liked how the RDC plan creates a lake that makes the river safe to play in. Right now it is too dangerous for people to really enjoy.

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And I love the FFOR to restore the Cossit library to its original red sandstone castle appearance that existed before the hideous addon.

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Sorry folks, I'm against the RDC on this one.

The FOR makes some very good points--there is already a surplus of office space downtown, and efforts should be made to rehab that before attempting to unload a ton of new office space. For example, from what I read, 1st TN is doing a remarkable job of updating their 43 yr. old building.

I think the space would be wonderful if they just tore down the parking garages, moved the fire station, and rehabbed the library. The original library would be perfect for some sort of museum, maybe a civil war museum, a Memphis history museum, etc. I think building a bunch of highrise offices in that space would be something that people 30 years later would wonder, "what were they thinking?".

Plus, the new law school building would be great in that setting--students could lounge around outside.

With all the new retail (BPS) and new residential downtown, I think that in 5 years an open Promenade--maybe with kiosks and vendors and fountains and a music gazebo--could be a wonderful front yard for Memphians, a public meeting place.

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I'm for both ideas. I like the development aspect from the RDC's viewpoint, but I like the natural setting of the Ffor's. As much as I like the Mississippi River, I believe we already have public use land for Tom Lee Park. The Promenade is part of downtown, and while it shouldn't be seperate, it still should be seamless. I wouldn't like to see all concrete sidewalks and a view to the river blocked from Front Street, but I would like to see some structures (maybe one or two) built under 6 stories. These structures should be set back from Front Street, not built so close to it to be seperated by just sidewalks. I'm all for the parking garages, Fire Station, Cossitt Library addition to be torn down.

There should be a happy balance between both plans.

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The Riverfront Development Proposal just doesn't make sense considering the fact that it would cost so much, is dependent on the thought that there is going to be an entire change in the desire for office space downtown. The area was designed to be park land or public land in the original plans for the city. Many cities would kill to have park land on it's doorstep. Yes there is some. More now that all the additional land was created in Tom Lee Park, but there is a different view of the river from on top of the bluffs. Use the way that downtown Chicago has used and created park land in it's downtown as a starting point to create interest in having people use the parkland. There is space for buildings without trying to create a giveaway for more space for buildings.

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I think the reason for additional land was to take the costs of redevelopment off the backs of the taxpayers.

The FFOR group failed to come up with a plan that raised money for goals...

important goals like moving garages, the fire department, and the cement factory off the promenade cannot reasonably be done for $7 million like their website says,

and they don't provide a source of funding for the millions that it will cost.

all in all, I like the FFOR plan better, and voted for it in the poll above, but I really think they really need to be more upfront about what they want, and how much it would cost.

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Visually, I prefer the FFOR plan over the RDC plan, probably because the FFOR plan more closely resembles Chicago's Grant Park, which I think represents a fine piece of urban design. The RDC design, as has been noted here, seems to effectively seal off much of the existing downtown from the riverfront and attempt to create a new, modernist downtown.

The RDC images may not do their plan much justice. The buildings are almost certainly intended as placeholders and are not to be taken literally, but they are so bland and boxy that they make it almost impossible to imagine a design that's sensitive to the historic architecture of Front Street, the Customs House (future Law School) or the Cossit Library.

I also agree that there is no forseeable demand for this much commercial real estate, certainly not in addition to the dozens of properties in the CBD core that need to be attended to. Regardless of the successful renaissance that has taken place south of Union Avenue, there is still much to be done north of there. Most of the Main Street Mall, the city's original shopping center, remains cold and uninviting...the domain of third-rate clothiers and wig stores. Second and Third streets also lack the thriving street scenes you would find down by Peabody Place and Beale Street. Shifting priorities toward filling up a new "retail experience" on the Promenade would likely delay the revitalization of the original buisness district.

I have some discomfort over the FFOC organization itself - the Overton Heirs issue is part of it, and they seem to go overboard attacking, even mocking, the RDC itself rather than just arguing the weaknesses of its plan. Something about their approach just strikes me as reactionary, anti-establishment and anti-business. And the $7 million park? About all you're going to get for $7m is some empty grass fields...certainly not the pretty parks you see depicted in the FFOC drawings. But if I had to chose between the two, I (reluctantly) lean toward the FFOC.

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Does anyone have any pictures of the Promenade? I don't really have a set opinion one way or another but I'm w/ yall that say more office space isn't necessary downtown. East Memphis is where office buildings should be built since they have only a 6% vacancy. I'm also glad the land bridge to Mud Island was scrapped. I don't wanna see the monorail go! Is Tom Lee Park supposed to be developed? I don't wanna see that go either. Has anyone else heard about the sleepouts that happen during the summer on the southern tip of Mud Island? I always thought it was a neat idea to be able to go camping in the city lol

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The Riverfront Development Proposal just doesn't make sense considering the fact that it would cost so much, is dependent on the thought that there is going to be an entire change in the desire for office space downtown. The area was designed to be park land or public land in the original plans for the city. Many cities would kill to have park land on it's doorstep. Yes there is some. More now that all the additional land was created in Tom Lee Park, but there is a different view of the river from on top of the bluffs. Use the way that downtown Chicago has used and created park land in it's downtown as a starting point to create interest in having people use the parkland. There is space for buildings without trying to create a giveaway for more space for buildings.

I'd like the FOR if it had the same vision that Chicago displays. But it doesn't. If they put together something worldclass with it, like Millenium Park. The aspect I like about RDC, in terms of their comprehensive vision for downtown, is they have tried to raise our sights higher. I haven't necessarily agreed with everything they proposed, but I've been glad that they see us on a level with a higher level of competition than we normally settle for.

Whatever happens, make Cotton Row one of the "must-see" places you go to when you visit Memphis. Just like Millenium Park in Chicago.

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I really am split on this but favor the RDC slightly...I'd love to see a 40-story tower go in downtown, and the Promenade could be the place where that is feasible; however, I want a sort of scaled down Central Park where we have a truly wonderful park looking right out on the river...I'm sorry, but I think Tom Lee Park might as well be called the Desert because it is just so bare! I'd like to see Tom Lee completely revamped and then maybe start on a landmark park elsewhere.

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^I think Tom Lee Park would be an awesome spot for a Speakers' Corner. Having a law school nearby might spur some intresting debates :P We might need a heavy police presence though

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I'd like the FOR if it had the same vision that Chicago displays. But it doesn't. If they put together something worldclass with it, like Millenium Park. The aspect I like about RDC, in terms of their comprehensive vision for downtown, is they have tried to raise our sights higher. I haven't necessarily agreed with everything they proposed, but I've been glad that they see us on a level with a higher level of competition than we normally settle for.

Whatever happens, make Cotton Row one of the "must-see" places you go to when you visit Memphis. Just like Millenium Park in Chicago.

I like many of the things about the Millenium Park in Chicago and do not like others, but I agree with you that it and Grant Park should be used as the idea for anything that is done. I would have liked to have seen Brooks move into the Post Office versus being used for the UM Law School. It would have been another building plock for tourist and local visitation to the bluffs. Again this would have been in keeping with the Chicago Parkland vision. I would like to see the park cantilevered out at the Front level over the train tracks below. This would increase the size of the parkland and create covered stations for the trolley cars on the Riverside level. With the question about Liberty Land, what about bringing the carousel downtown and placing it in the parkland. Create some reasons aside from the views to go into the parks. I still feel that to build up the parks at the same level that underground parking be kept as a money making support.

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While Tom Lee Park may be "barren" at least there are accessible views of the river. If trees are installed on the Promenade, wouldn't that block the view of the Mississippi?

That's why there should be a balance of parks and development on the Promenade.

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I'd like the FOR if it had the same vision that Chicago displays. But it doesn't. If they put together something worldclass with it, like Millenium Park. The aspect I like about RDC, in terms of their comprehensive vision for downtown, is they have tried to raise our sights higher. I haven't necessarily agreed with everything they proposed, but I've been glad that they see us on a level with a higher level of competition than we normally settle for.

Whatever happens, make Cotton Row one of the "must-see" places you go to when you visit Memphis. Just like Millenium Park in Chicago.

I visited Millenium Park this fall and liked it. I agree that the FFOR plan lacks the attractions found in Millenium Park, such as the gardens and the sculpture-like thing that displays people's faces on it. However, I do think the FFOR concept resembles the orginal Grant Park, which is contiguous to but separate from Millenium Park. Grant Park contains the Buckingham Fountain, Art Institute, Shedd Aquarium and Field Museum. It provides the city with an impressive "front lawn" that contrasts nicely with the skyline to the west. Today, Memphis lacks that front lawn.

An issue I have with both RDC and FFOC is that neither really incorporates Mud Island into its plans. RDC did originally, but in a way that was beyond all practicality. Remember, the entire Promenade faces not the Mississippi River but the Wolf River Harbor and Mud Island. What good is it to create this elaborate riverfront if the only view it affords is of an abandoned, languishing Mud Island?

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I like many of the things about the Millenium Park in Chicago and do not like others, but I agree with you that it and Grant Park should be used as the idea for anything that is done. I would have liked to have seen Brooks move into the Post Office versus being used for the UM Law School. It would have been another building plock for tourist and local visitation to the bluffs. Again this would have been in keeping with the Chicago Parkland vision. I would like to see the park cantilevered out at the Front level over the train tracks below. This would increase the size of the parkland and create covered stations for the trolley cars on the Riverside level. With the question about Liberty Land, what about bringing the carousel downtown and placing it in the parkland. Create some reasons aside from the views to go into the parks. I still feel that to build up the parks at the same level that underground parking be kept as a money making support.

One thing I don't like about that idea is that it just shifts attractions around. They just expanded in the past decade, and are situated in a nice little mini-corridor with the school of art and the zoo, near Rhodes. I originally wanted to promote the creation of a cultural row of new attractions, framed at the north and south end by mid-rise signature buildings. Coordinated with Mud Island, you can actually envision a string of attractions that go from Mud Island, wrap back around via the Auction Street bridge past the Pyramid, past the Overton blocks, to the Orpheum (convert the parking lot next to it by the Gayoso into a high-rise hotel and theater) and all the way to the galleries, NCRM, and the Powerhouse of South Main. Adding attractions like a bbq museum, entrepreneurial museum, aquarium/aviary (not going to happen at the Pyramid anymore, although the aquarium/aviary at the zoo is anemic and needs to be relocated for space reasons, imo), science or children's museum, transportation/war museum (with the Belle in a common foyer linking the two) would have contributed to creating the critical density necessary to have a world-class downtown. Getting the ballet and opera to relocate downtown from their respective suburban isolations would also help, but unlikely for the time being. As it is, they're adding the Cotton Museum to the strip. And the Blues Foundation is looking for a location to build its HOF. Great start, but not near the critical density we need.

Another thought that was inspired by the law school relocating downtown was the idea of converting some stretches of riverside property to education. Maybe create a downtown university by the harbor north of Auction, including both an environmental and energy school (the environmental school could look for ways to clean up the harbor). I definitely think the Island should be devoted to educational and cultural purposes. I hope after they finish with the Pyramid and the Fairgrounds, they look into the future of Mud Island and the convention center, how to maximize their potentials. You can really see an enhanced Mud Island as a center for culture and education if you add a couple of museums, maybe a school or institute, maybe an observatory, bring in some concessions, keep the ampitheater (maybe host monthly free Shakespeare performances during the summer during lunch or happy hour).

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Another thought that was inspired by the law school relocating downtown was the idea of converting some stretches of riverside property to education. Maybe create a downtown university by the harbor north of Auction, including both an environmental and energy school (the environmental school could look for ways to clean up the harbor). I definitely think the Island should be devoted to educational and cultural purposes. I hope after they finish with the Pyramid and the Fairgrounds, they look into the future of Mud Island and the convention center, how to maximize their potentials. You can really see an enhanced Mud Island as a center for culture and education if you add a couple of museums, maybe a school or institute, maybe an observatory, bring in some concessions, keep the ampitheater (maybe host monthly free Shakespeare performances during the summer during lunch or happy hour).

That would be awesome, but...its all so expensive! We're going to need a lot more money and people in the area to make that happen.

The law school pretty much had to move: Their building was in such bad shape that the ABA threatened to pull their acreditation. That pretty much meant either build a new building or move.

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Wish list semi-relevant to this thread: significant reconfiguration of the I-40 ramps. Eliminate the ramps from Front and Riverside. Have interchanges at 2nd and 3rd streets with cut-throughs (now called Jackson and Winchester...rather confusing) between those streets to allow for both north and south turns, kind of like an altered single-point urban interchange you see a lot on Nonconnah/Bill Morris/TN 385 (SPUI).

There is room to do this on the north side of the Convention Center and between the Wyndham and the existing interstate for a link between 2nd and 3rd (now used for parking). On the north side of I-40, you must exit, loop south on 2nd, and then loop around the Wyndham to go north on 3rd. This can be eliminated by a reconfigured ramp between I-40 and the fire station linking 2nd and 3rd.

Change the current Thomas half-cloverleaf to a SPUI above the interstate which would cut the land usage and you have two decent interchanges which improve the sightlines on the riverfront and allow for equally good or better downtown access. The issue arises from time to time, but hasn't been central to the riverfront plans from what I have seen.

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Wish list semi-relevant to this thread: significant reconfiguration of the I-40 ramps. Eliminate the ramps from Front and Riverside. Have interchanges at 2nd and 3rd streets with cut-throughs (now called Jackson and Winchester...rather confusing) between those streets to allow for both north and south turns, kind of like an altered single-point urban interchange you see a lot on Nonconnah/Bill Morris/TN 385 (SPUI).

There is room to do this on the north side of the Convention Center and between the Wyndham and the existing interstate for a link between 2nd and 3rd (now used for parking). On the north side of I-40, you must exit, loop south on 2nd, and then loop around the Wyndham to go north on 3rd. This can be eliminated by a reconfigured ramp between I-40 and the fire station linking 2nd and 3rd.

Change the current Thomas half-cloverleaf to a SPUI above the interstate which would cut the land usage and you have two decent interchanges which improve the sightlines on the riverfront and allow for equally good or better downtown access. The issue arises from time to time, but hasn't been central to the riverfront plans from what I have seen.

JM, Not to sound dumb, but what would a single point urban interchange (SPUI) at I40 and downtown look like? I know that at present there are ramps from Riverside going west and from Front going west on I40 and that there is a sort of feeder road for the exits for 2nd/3rd street. I'm going with these two interchanges would be one interchange and Front/Riverside ramps would be gone.

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JM, Not to sound dumb, but what would a single point urban interchange (SPUI) at I40 and downtown look like? I know that at present there are ramps from Riverside going west and from Front going west on I40 and that there is a sort of feeder road for the exits for 2nd/3rd street. I'm going with these two interchanges would be one interchange and Front/Riverside ramps would be gone.

If you click on the links on the bottom of this page, you can see what a SPUI looks like at ground level. http://www.lordsutch.com/tn385/nonconnah.html

And here's an aerial picture of how an SPUI works at the intersection of Kirby and TN 385.

http://maps.google.com/?t=h&ll=35.066632,-...18,0.004742&t=h

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If you click on the links on the bottom of this page, you can see what a SPUI looks like at ground level. http://www.lordsutch.com/tn385/nonconnah.html

And here's an aerial picture of how an SPUI works at the intersection of Kirby and TN 385.

http://maps.google.com/?t=h&ll=35.066632,-...18,0.004742&t=h

Got it Thanks. I've used that Kirby Parkway exit a lot of times.

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Interesting debate. If you don't mind a little outside interest. Pittsburgh is undergoing huge riverfront revitalization. As far as I'm concerned, you can't go wrong with parks. They may not have the immediate impact of a glossy new "comercial" development, but in the long run. It is what will truly benefit the city and help existing commercial distrcts, not compete with them.

20040611dsdelmontedrawing_450.jpg

RiverPark2.jpg

CityDogs.jpg

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Interesting debate. If you don't mind a little outside interest. Pittsburgh is undergoing huge riverfront revitalization. As far as I'm concerned, you can't go wrong with parks. They may not have the immediate impact of a glossy new "comercial" development, but in the long run. It is what will truly benefit the city and help existing commercial distrcts, not compete with them.

UrbaniD Have always wanted to visit Pittsburgh. My Father-In-Law is from Western PA (currently lives in York County) and has given my other half are very bad image of Pittsburgh that I can't seem to disprove or dissuade. I get yelled at whenever I get out of the car in downtown Memphis. More of the I'm uncomfortable in Urban Areas. It's funny because we go all over downtown DC and Baltimore.

Anyway, downtown Memphis isn't like most downtown spaces. The city grew away from the river and there was relatively little developed on the other side of the river, due to the flood plane. So downtown isn't the business center of the city. The port of Memphis isn't even in the downtown area. There has always been a larger amount of parkland downtown than in many cities. A Greenbelt has been developed that covers most of the riverfront. The plan by the RDC doesn't seem to recognize the fact that downtown isn't the business center and has a belief that downtown will become the center for business again. I think that many of us who know the city well would like to see park improvements to create something like Chicago has for a downtown welcome mat. Downtown needs to build on the fact that it is a neighborhood and the entertainment center for the city. The area being discussed needs to be the bow that ties various parts together so that there is a coherent whole. Something that would draw more people to the river and tie the south end of downtown to the north end. Something that would make more people use the Green Belt Parks.

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