• Proposed changes to Tom Lee Park could cost Memphis millions, hundreds of jobs, letter claims


    MEMPHIS, Tenn. - New details were released about plans to change a popular park in Memphis. 

    The proposed changes have the leader of the Memphis Metropolitan Hotel & Lodging Association worried for how it will impact the city. 

    He is concerned Memphis could lose millions in tourism dollars, hundreds of jobs and a large part of what makes the World Championship Barbecue cooking competition one of a kind.

    The website for the Memphis River Parks Partnership (MRPP), the organization charged with redesigning how Tom Lee Park flows along the Mississippi River, shows initial plans. 

    The active videos show Tom Lee Park totally redesigned with tall trees, architecture and sweeping walk spaces. 

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    The letter obtained by FOX13 from the president of the Memphis Lodging Association expresses concern that all the changes will mean millions in lost tax revenue and empty hotel rooms – as well as a major loss for the World Championship Barbecue, which is the hallmark of Memphis in May.

    Wayne Tabor’s letter to Mayor Jim Strickland sent on Monday comes with a dire reminder of the financial importance Memphis in May is to the city’s tax revenues.

    That letter, in part, is below:

    "Placing all of the barbecue teams on Riverside Drive would reduce the size of booths the teams use or possibly reduce the number of teams that are allowed to compete. The month of May has consistently been one of the highest hotel occupancy months of the year and the largest sales revenue months for downtown restaurants… relocating the month-long festivities could never be recuperated. It would possibly put some of the smaller businesses out of business."

    FOX13 has not confirmed the plans are final. 

    The public relations company representing MRPP issued a statement. They said everyone can get their first look at what the riverfront can become on Saturday at the new engagement center on the north end of Tom Lee Park in Beale Street Landing.

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