Memphis Council OKs Bass Pro Shop Financing Package

The Memphis City Council has approved a $215 million financing package to turn The Pyramid into a Bass Pro Shops destination store and to invest in full ownership of the neighboring Memphis Cook Convention Center, reports the Commercial Appeal.
The council voted 12-0 Tuesday in favor of the measure with little discussion. The Center City Revenue Finance Corp., the finance arm of the Downtown Memphis Commission, will issue bonds to fund the project, which are to be paid back through increased sales tax revenue collected Downtown.
Beyond transforming the now-vacant Pyramid, both Bass Pro Shops and the city say they hope to create an active convention center district, focusing on the connections among The Pyramid, the Mississippi River, Memphis Cook Convention Center and the historic Pinch District.
“This is bold action that will completely transform the face of the city,” said Mayor AC Wharton. “Although there have been rough obstacles to overcome and high doubt, we’re going to get this done.”
The city plans to buy Shelby County’s 50percent share of the convention center for $65 million to $75 million so it can gain full control of the Downtown Tourist Development Zone, which takes advantage of retail sales for most of Downtown, including Beale Street and the medical district immediately east of Downtown.
Tourist Development Zones divert new state tax revenue from businesses within the designated areas to specific public-use facilities, such as The Pyramid or the convention center, instead of sending that revenue to the state.
“That money would be going to Nashville if we didn’t use it,” Wharton said. “So, we can use the increased tax revenue from the project to pay for the project.

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