MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Memphis River Parks Partnership gave the media a peek at the large pavilion it says will be the centerpiece of the new and improved Tom Lee Park.
On Wednesday, construction crews were putting up some of the 16,000-pound beams that will support the Hyde Civic Canopy Roof.
“This will be a multi-purpose space,” said Candace Gray with the River Parks Partnership. “We have concerts here, basketball here, weddings. Literally any and everything.”
The $60 million park redesign has not been without its share of controversy.
Some have raised concerns about the lack of parking, others are upset about the large mounds they say block the view of the Mississippi River, and this week folks were weighing in online about the materials being used in the new civic canopy.
“It’s just awful! It absolutely was not in the early renderings,” said Joy Terral on Nextdoor.
“No Trashy containers in what was presented. It looks like a junkyard,” said Kenneth Hudson.
The River Parks Partnership said the shipping containers are only being used to support the build and will not be part of the permanent structure.
“It’s going to be a magnificent structure,” said George Abbott with the Memphis River Parks Partnership. ” The way this is put together, it all supports itself in the air. So the shipping containers are in place to hold up the initial support structures.”
The renovation project is expected to be finished next summer or early fall. The River Parks Partnership, though, still can’t say if the city’s biggest festival, Memphis in May, will be returning to Tom Lee Park in 2023.
“There is no contract in place to have Memphis in May back in the park right now,” said Abbott.
The sticking point appears to be a damage deposit requested by the Memphis River Parks Partnership.
Memphis in May was initially asked to put up a $1.4 million deposit, but the River Parks Partnership reduced it to $400,000.
Mayor Jim Strickland has proposed a financial agreement to cover damages, but it still needs approval from the city council.