For a river town, Memphis is strangely removed from its body of water. The majority of the city sits high on a bluff and even our riverfront parks don't let you get too close to the Mighty Mississippi. The almost-completed Beale Street Landing project seeks to change all of that. Here's what's up with Beale Street Landing:
What it was: Not much. The spot where Beale Street Landing sits now was the middle ground between the cobblestones and Tom Lee Park.
What it is right now: An almost-completed construction project. The $38 million dollar project includes an angular building with a sloped grass roof and a big, rust-red spiral that sticks out into the river, an extension of the shoreline and a boat dock that can rise and fall with the river.
What's it's going to be: The sweetest boat dock on the Mississippi.
Let's start with the building. The indoor space will house the ticketing counter for the Memphis Queen Riverboat rides, two gift shops, special event space and a restaurant, the Riverside Grill and Dockside Bar. It's got floor-to-ceiling windows facing the river, so the view is going to be incredible.
The restaurant (which is being operated by the same crew that runs Blues City Cafe) will have two patios – an uncovered one that faces the river and a covered one that fits under the building's curved roof.
Speaking of the roof, it's one of Beale Street Landing's best features. The roof is curved and covered with grass, making it a great spot for a picnic, a challenging run, or an unbeatable view of the sunset. It would also provide natural stadium seating if they ever decide to show outdoor movies. The roof space is like a public park – it'll be open to everyone for free during normal park hours.
While Beale Street Landing is shaping up to be a great place for drinks or a picnic, it's main function is to connect Memphians to the river via its boat docks. Because the Mississippi River's water levels fluctuate so much, creating a dock that will work for larger boats in Memphis has been a challenge.
Beale Street Landing has solved the problem by adding about four acres of land to the shoreline and creating a moveable boat dock that can rise and fall with the water levels. The red spiral that sticks out into the Mississippi is the ramp that will be used to get to the docked boats.
The Memphis Queen Riverboats will move their operations to the landing when it opens and it will serve as the Memphis dock for the 400-passenger American Queen.
When it opens: The boat docks will be done in time for the American Queen's first stop on April 26th. The rest of the landing is scheduled to open to the public in time for 4th of July festivities. In the meantime, you can check out a virtual tour of the completed project or watch the construction cam.