July 9, 2012
I have been investigating this $215 million dollar deal. I met with Marcus Ward (Sr. Assistant City Attorney) and Debbie Singleton (Administrator for Housing & Community Development) and got complete information and details. They were both very knowledgeable and courteous and I was impressed with their grasp of the details.
Let me say up front that I hope this works and that it is a financial success. A failure could ruin the City of Memphis.
Looking back, the Pyramid should never have been built in the first place. It was built primarily as a basketball arena and the Pyramid shape was terrible for that purpose. However the idea of Memphis on the Mississippi (as in Memphis on the Nile) was too big a temptation. It never really worked and when the NBA came along it became obsolete. I give credit to Robert Lipscomb for coming up with the Bass Pro alternative. Again I hope it works.
Here are the details (so many details your eyes will glaze over).
Memphis Pyramid Redevelopment Project. This is what the City Council saw and voted on. (Note that Tom Marshall made the technical presentation. This is the same Tom Marshall who brought us the January 2001 pension resolution that has cost us millions in early pension payments).
Here are the claims.
No use of city tax money. Total costs are paid from state sales taxes. (This is true if the sales projections turn out to be as projected). See page 4 for other claims.
The City Council voted approval to (see page 11) fund the seismic costs, amend the HOOPS agreement, pay Shelby County for the Cook Convention Center, authorize the bond issue and allocate and appropriate the project funds.
Look at page 15 to see the plan, the Pinch District, Lonestar acquisition and other items.
Look at pages 22 and 23 for the seismic work paid for by the City.
Look at page 24 for the construction timeline.
Look at page 27 for the downtown tourism development zones.
The rest of the presentation is a sales pitch with hopes for the future. I will be presenting in the future the actual bond documents with the actual provisions and the revised development agreement with sales projections. These will be pdf searchable documents.
Let us hope it works as projected and sold.