The Cook Convention Center: A work in progress

Local News

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com)- They call the Cook Convention Center a work in progress. 

They’ve made some progress, but they still have to do a lot of work.

This might not seem like a big deal.

Maybe it’s not.

After all, most Memphians have never and will never set foot in the Convention Center.

Even though it sits right on Main Street, just as it has for 40 years.

“This building in phases,” says Kevin Kane of the Memphis Management Group, “… as we complete these improvements while making a major transformation of this building.”

Convention Centers aren’t for local folks.

They are for out-of-towners, to attract them to Memphis and urge them not to forget their wallets.

That’s why fixing this place up is a big deal.

That’s why this new elevated connector is a big deal.

It will be finished in a little less than a month, and Dean Dennis of the Cook Convention Center says, “That’s remarkable how fast that’s come down and how fast its gone back up, and it’s the connector to our primary hotel. That’s really important to us to have that connector.”

The center was renovated back at the turn of the 21st century, although the biggest part of that renovation was tearing down the old Ellis Auditorium and building the Cannon Performing Arts Center.

It was a project that was over budget, too long, and even too deep, as construction work unearthed human remains from an old, cemetery that nobody knew was there.

No real surprises this time says project director Alan Berner. 

“The building was built in the 1970s,” he says. “We found a wall where a wall wasn’t supposed to be. Other than that, things are going as planned.”

Those plans include floor to ceiling windows, more natural light, bringing a little charm to a building that looks like maximum security prison.

The group does want to make one thing clear; the entire renovation project, at this time, is on time and on budget.

You should get a chance to see a portion of the newly-revived building by the end of the year. 

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