MEMPHIS, Tenn. — We have been talking for decades about the need to make the riverfront in downtown Memphis more inviting. But the efforts have been hit and miss – mostly a miss. Then late last year, Mayor Jim Strickland introduced some grand plans to beautify the riverfront with help from state government. The mayor revisited the plans during his annual State of the City address last week.
And there is a sense of urgency since Viking Cruises will start docking at Memphis this June in Memphis and New Orleans for New Orleans to Memphis cruises along the Mississippi River. With Viking joining two other companies making stops in Memphis, sprucing up the city boat docks is crucial.
Strickland is asking for more than $26.5 million dollars in state funding to expand the dock at Beale Street Landing and add another one further north near Mud Island. Which means the mayor has to play nice with Gov. Bill Lee and state lawmakers.
Whether the state is inclined to look favorably on Memphis remains to be seen. That relationship has been less than pleasant in recent years. But all indications are that the river cruise industry is poised to take off after a downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. And Memphis stands to gain economically from the resurgence.
So by all means, let’s get to work fixing up the riverfront and hope the state goes along.