MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Finishing touches are underway at Beale Street Landing for this week's visit by the American Queen riverboat.
Whether you ever intend to dip your toes in the Mississippi mud or stay far away from the river, you should be interested in this. When all is said and done, some $40 million in your tax money will have been spent on the building and its dock.
It seems as though construction has been taking place at this site since the Mississippi River started flowing south. After several years of work and millions of dollars over budget, the place isn't finished.
But it's getting there, in case you haven't noticed. If you really haven't noticed, that's the point.
"The idea was to make the building sort of blend in. That's why you'll see glass walls where you can almost see through the building. The roof is grass. This is going to be stone like," explained Benny Lendermon with the Riverfront Development Corporation.
Inside, even with all the workers, it's clear that there is still a lot of work to be done. But Lendermon knows where everything is going to be.
The one section that will open first is the docking area for the riverboats; they were just installed over the weekend.
The original cost of this project was set at $20 million dollars. It's now $40 million, the same price it cost to build Arlington High School about ten years ago.
The Beale Street Landing project won't go down in history as on budget and on time. The days for similar projects by the Riverfront Development Corporation are over for now.
"The future depends on a creative way to generate revenue," Lendermon said, "for us to help provide a riverfront to our community that's world class in a way that's not a huge burden on the taxpayers."
Just ten years ago, there were all sorts of plans for the Riverfront Development Corporation. The city pays for most of the operations, with private donations taking care of the remaining dough.
Memphis is not doing well with money now and that's not good news for this group.
Funds to the RDC have been cut to the barest of bones by the Memphis City Council. Massive riverfront projects were former Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton's dream. But Herenton is gone, and more importantly, so is the money.
So they'll finish the dock and the building, and then they'll work on the final piece of the puzzle.
"The park feature is a grass terrace that goes down and leads people to a chance to get close to the water."
The park will likely open next year. As far as big projects go, that'll be it for awhile.