MEMPHIS, Tenn. — City council members this week got a look at a proposal to dam up the Wolf River harbor creating a recreational lake, expand the city’s cruise ship docks and possibly add a Ferris wheel to the Memphis riverbank.
Mayor Jim Strickland, who showed off the plans as part of a presentation on the city legislative priorities in Nashville, said he plans to ask the state for some of the money required for the projects.
“I think it’s time to ask big of Nashville,” he said.
The top priority, he said, is expanding the current docking facilities at Beale Street Landing and adding a second dock at the north end of Mud Island to accommodate a growing flood of cruise ships he expects will want to stop in the Bluff City on their way down the Mississippi.
“People are willing to pay $5,000 a piece to go in a cruise ship and cruise up and down the Mississippi. Memphis is their second favorite stop behind New Orleans,” Strickland said. “Viking is about to enter the market, and Viking has said they will be in Memphi,s once they get going, every single day within four or five years.”
Right now they’re estimating just for the added docks at $25 million. The city plans to ask the state to help with the costs, and will ask the boat companies to help as well.
The dock at Beale Street Landing opened in 2014 at a cost of $43 million, and is undergoing more than $1 million in renovations.
But Strickland said that dock, which faced criticism for its cost, is already too small to handle the volume from the growing cruise ship industry, and entrepreneurs could build restaurants at the dock and nearby cobblestones. Changes need to be made in the “next year or two,” he said.
Another part of the proposal would dam up part of the harbor between Mud Island and the riverfront to create a 1.5-mile lake for boating, swimming and recreation. Strickland compared it to a lake in downtown Austin, Texas.
Finally, plans show a Ferris wheel on the east side of the riverbank. Strickland said the city is in contact with a company that wants to install one.
Council member Martavious Jones said he’s all aboard.
“People go to cities, people move to cities for stuff like this,” Jones said.
Watch the full meeting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVJJvNJcVGs