Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Council Hears Fairgrounds Update

Posted By on Tue, Oct 6, 2009 at 11:19 AM

Even though a developer hasn't been chosen to revitalize the fairgrounds, the city has begun a $1.7 million clean-up of the former Libertyland area.

"The site is a huge blight to the whole city and it's embarrassing," said Robert Lipscomb, Memphis CFO. "Regardless of who is selected as the developer, this needs to be done and done quickly. ... What we're trying to do is some some movement at the site."

A joint City Council parks and housing and community development committee heard the update on the fairgrounds and, though some members wanted to discuss specifics of the redevelopment project, including both the cost and the financing, Lipscomb and others said those questions were premature.

"No developer has been picked," said council member Shea Flinn. "What intelligent minds can't disagree on is what we have now is blight. What we're talking about now is cleaning it up, adding some green grass, and enhancing the Liberty Bowl experience."

Other concerns were raised about the Mid-South Coliseum.

Several council members mentioned support for preserving the Coliseum, but Lipscomb said that was unlikely.

"There are reasons to tear it down: the [non-compete] clause with the [Memphis] Grizzlies. There are not many events that can be housed there," he said. "It's a 45-year-old facility and it has not been repaired."

The current focus is on the area along East Parkway that Lipscomb calls the "front door" of the redevelopment project.

"We're trying to let people know that we're serious about this project," Lipscomb said. "That's really what we're trying to do: Redefine that whole area along East Parkway and let them know that that site is very important. It's in the center of the city."

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