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What is up with the Pyramid?

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I saw this post on the SmartCity blog and it has me troubled. Bass Pro Shops for the Pyramid never seemed to be a really good option and I wonder if a majority of people feel the same way. Look at what is happening in Buffalo. Memphis seems to be in the same spot with no commitment from BPS. I fear our government is being foolish as they have on so many other initiatives. What makes the Memphis public any more confident that this BPS idea is any better than the decision to build the Pyramid as it is in the first place? The public seems like it is being kept in the dark about the Pyramid and there is no sign there is any progress on reuse of the building. BPS seems to be strining Memphis along like it has done to Buffalo.

http://smartcitymemphis.blogspot.com/2007/...sweetheart.html

I wonder if it is too late to revive plans for an regional aquarium in Memphis like AquariuMemphis was planned to be. Those plans seem more promising and more appropriate for a public building and a defining building on the Memphis skyline. Background on those projects are at these links:

http://www.accessmylibrary.com/comsite5/bi...d=0286-17283294

http://www.bizjournals.com/memphis/stories.../26/story3.html

http://www.wmcstations.com/Global/story.asp?S=3977904

http://www.bizjournals.com/memphis/stories...tml?jst=s_cn_hl

Anyone else feel the handling of the Pyramid is going wrong? Why has there been no progress? And should government be turning a public building over to a for profit business such as BPS? Seems like there is all sorts of possibilities for corruption, kickbacks, and under the table deals. Instead, i would hope a facility like the proposed AquariuMemphis would be using a public building for the public good like the memphis Zoo. In fact, I would hope there would be a relationship between any aquarium and the Zoo. It makes sense. It would seem an educational facility and tourist draw that an aquarium would be is a better fit for an iconic building like teh Pyramid than turning it to a private store.

In any case, something has to be done. How long will the Pyramid sit idle (after the last concert) while the Memphis government does nothing while being strung along like Buffalo?

Does anyone feel this way? I'd love to hear this discussion.

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The city can't see around the debt. I can't blame them, even though I don't like the BPS as it's been offered (I think there's a way for BPS to create a breakthrough, bridgebuilding international facility if they could think that progressively). If someone could eliminate the debt with a cultural institution, I'm sure they would be interested in that. That option has not emerged yet.

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BassPro may not be ideal, but it is a hell of a lot better than an aquarium.

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BassPro may not be ideal, but it is a hell of a lot better than an aquarium.

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The Memphis Tigers who promised to stay in the Pyramid should take it back. It's a great stadium, and even though the seating is a little cramped it can fit over 2,000 more people than the FedEx Forum.

If casinos were allowed in Tennessee I would say make it one.

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The Memphis Tigers who promised to stay in the Pyramid should take it back. It's a great stadium, and even though the seating is a little cramped it can fit over 2,000 more people than the FedEx Forum.

If casinos were allowed in Tennessee I would say make it one.

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BPS is the best deal, unless another private entity comes along willing to pay off the debt for the city via a lease agreement. The city's tax rates are already too high and I don't think sinking millions more into the Pyramid for a public use is the best use of public funds if a private entity will take over the facililty and pay off the debt owned on it. There are lots of problems facing the city that the city's tax revenue would be better spent on IMO.

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I think the city should search for other options. I don't think the BPS people have signed a commitment to the Pyramid so we shouldn't commit to them either. We should keep searching for other people willing to take over the building and offering the same incentive BPS has. Its an iconic building in a great location so I'm sure somebody is out there looking. But I'm going to pose this question again...Why do you think downtown themeparks (especially indoor ones which aren't in a mall/casino) do poorly? Is it because of lack of space for new attractions? I think an amusement park in the Pyramid wouldn't do too well. Flint tried Autoworld but that shut down after one year! Can anyone find an example of a successful indoor amusement park in a downtown?

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I understand if there are financial reasons why Memphis feels compelled to woo the private sector to occupy the Pyramid. But putting that aside and just considering what would be best for the city, I can't IMAGINE anyone thinking a Bass Pro Shops would be superior to almost ANY public cultural institution, including an aquariam (and personally, I'm just about totally indifferent to aquariams). Cities are known for their public spaces, period. And Memphis could use a few more public spaces.

When I moved out here, I was with a friend who drove across the country with me. He absolutely could not BELIEVE the pyramid was empty, being the most iconic and singular building in the entire skyline. He was literally appalled. And then I mentioned there was some talk of a Bass Pro Shops taking it over, and I really don't think I can do justice in words to his horrified reaction.

Though I confess I have a certain antipathy to amusement parks. I guess that's just a personal thing. But I really don't think an indoor amusement park is a good idea, regardless of whether it would be popular.

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Would it best for the city to spend millions to revamp the Pyramid into a public use facility that would take even more money each and every year to operate more than likely? I am all for public projects, but Memphis needs to get some priorities down, and I dont think spending millions on the Pyramid needs to be one of them. Millions spent on public services would go alot further and better for the city IMO.

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Or a very good example in a very very bad way.

Any thing that draws a comparison between Memphis' boosterism and the Flint of "Roger and Me" isn't a good thing for Memphis boosters.

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Would it best for the city to spend millions to revamp the Pyramid into a public use facility that would take even more money each and every year to operate more than likely? I am all for public projects, but Memphis needs to get some priorities down, and I dont think spending millions on the Pyramid needs to be one of them. Millions spent on public services would go alot further and better for the city IMO.

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I don't see why we have to do anything. The worst that can happen is happening now, we're paying for it and it's empty, but we still have the icon. That's what we really wanted for 100 years -- the icon. 20 years ago our leaders weren't visionary enough to propose an icon, so they had to sell an alternative use -- a basketball arena. 20 years later, basketball is gone but we still can't embrace the icon for its own sake.

The icon is the use. Anything we can find to go inside that helps pay the rent, that's good, but that's not the use.

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I don't see why we have to do anything. The worst that can happen is happening now, we're paying for it and it's empty, but we still have the icon. That's what we really wanted for 100 years -- the icon. 20 years ago our leaders weren't visionary enough to propose an icon, so they had to sell an alternative use -- a basketball arena. 20 years later, basketball is gone but we still can't embrace the icon for its own sake.

The icon is the use. Anything we can find to go inside that helps pay the rent, that's good, but that's not the use.

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all that said, i wouldn't want to see the thing torn down, as i think the smart city blog advocated. it IS too much a part of the memphis skyline now.

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hmmm. I dunno. I think this is almost TOO visionary. i could support keeping this place empty if the only alternative was using it for something really crass and debasing - i'm not sure that bass pro is THAT bad, though! (on the other hand, of course, if the deal isn't really gonna happen anyway and they're just leading memphis on, well, that's a different story and shame on us, really) but a completely empty iconic building just strikes me as wasted potential, and thus quite sad. It reminds me of the notorious Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang - and I'm not sure if the skyline of Memphis should strive to emulate North Korea ;) (though in fairness the pyramid doesn't look qutie as much like, well, the architecture of Pure Evil)

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I recently picked up a copy of Memphis Business Quarterly (apparently a fairly new publication, but it had many excellent articles) and in it was a lengthy interview with LRK architect Frank Ricks.

Among the variety of questions he fielded were a couple concerning what to do with the Pyramid. He said the obvious uses were sports- or recreated-related, but then he said it would be fascinating to consider comparing the current building debt to the current value of the land and the potential enhanced value of the land if the I-40/Riverside/Front interchange were taken down. He said he's not yet advocating tearing it down, but implied with some road reworking, the site could have much more value to the point where the debt load wouldn't be a stumbling block.

If the interchange were deleted and I-40 access to downtown were moved to 2nd and 3rd streets, elimination of the ramps would yield a lot of room for convention center expansion (I know the last one didn't go so well, but I'm just thinking aloud here) to where Memphis could gain some of the larger conventions and trade shows. The land north of I-40 (west of Front) would be great for a mixed-use development with room for at least a couple of large hotels to support the expanded convention business. Relocation of the MLGW substation would yield a decent plot of land which, along with developing the surface lots on north Front, could support mixed retail and residential and would be a good transition from Downtown through the Pinch to Uptown.

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So your saying that there would be no exit for Riverside Dr, or the interchange would be reworked to allow more space?

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Yes, no more interchange for Riverside. Riverside could be extended north into a new development replacing the Pyramid and make a turn east to link up with Overton or could make a sharper turn at Jefferson allowing for more green space down the bluff from the convention center. Interstate access to downtown could be moved to 2nd and 3rd streets using a modified SPUI-style setup.

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