Memphis gets serious about reconnecting to their river and revitalizing their waterfront

On January 25, 2017, Memphis, Tennessee Mayor Jim Strickland announced the creation of a task force designed to improve the Memphis riverfront.

Our riverfront is one of our most important, significant, and historic assets,” Strickland said. “We have a sense of urgency to try to get some short term wins on the riverfront,” he said.

Architecture firm Studio Gang has been contracted to assist in design. They are the group behind high-profile projects in Chicago, like riverfront boathouses and a nature boardwalk. They acknowledged there are many possibilities for the nearly-5 mile Memphis riverfront. “It’s an unbelievably opportunity,” Studio Gang’s Gia Biagi said.

Strickland, along with the task force members, said that creating a world-class riverfront will, in turn, create a world-class city.

From the Riverfront Development Corporation website: The Riverfront Development Corporation was created in the year 2000 to provide stewardship and a fresh vision for the Memphis riverfront. By the late 90s Memphis’ riverfront—once the cultural and economic hub of the Mid-South—was in desperate need of revitalization.

A century of eastward expansion had estranged the people of Memphis from the energizing waters of the Mississippi. As the new century approached, however, a cultural and economic rebirth in downtown Memphis ignited a fresh demand for places to play, relax and rejuvenate within the city’s urban core. It was at this time that the city’s leaders established a public/private partnership with a mission to connect the people of Memphis back to the Mississippi River: The Riverfront Development Corporation.

In the intervening years Memphis’ riverfront has roared back to life. Today the riverfront is being utilized by residents and tourists in ways that it hasn’t since the days of the steamboat. Pedestrian walkways, the revitalization and creation of new green spaces, public art projects, the construction of a world-class docking facility, and countless other enhancements have helped to, once again, make the water’s edge the heart and soul of the city and a world-class destination.

The river is life. It waters the fields that feed us; it inspires us; it strengthens our bonds. It connects us to the world, to nature and to ourselves. A resource of such importance is a part of the public trust. The Riverfront Development Corporation’s responsibility to the people of Memphis is to protect, maintain, and nurture the riverfront so that every generation has an opportunity to enjoy its riches.

See full WBRC article and news video by By Kendall Downing.

See Memphis Riverfront website & photo credit.

See Downtown Memphis website.

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