Efforts to build a $10 million adventure park on Mud Island look poised to take another step forward after several Memphis City Council members praised the plans by The Forge Memphis. The group is looking to build climbing towers, an aerial ropes course and a zip line across Wolf River Harbor, among other attractions.
In a presentation to the council Tuesday, Doug Carpenter of communications firm DCA Memphis said the project was born out of a desire to activate the underutilized Mud Island River Park and said he thought The Forge would be “the start of something great.”
“We are ready to go,” he said. “We are anxious to go.”
Carpenter said the team is seeking a 30-year lease, which would have to be approved by the council and will come before the body at a later date. The agreement will go through the Memphis River Parks Partnership and the mayor’s office before going to the council. The group is not seeking any public incentives.
Doug McGowen, city of Memphis chief operating officer, said Tuesday’s presentation is the “result of a couple of years of hard work.”
“I think they have a concept that can catalyze a lot of new development on the island, catalyze a lot of interest,” he said.
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Councilwoman Patrice Robinson said it was one of the best proposals for Mud Island she had seen during her time on the council. Councilman Martavius Jones said he thought the adventure park concept could work with other uses on the island.
“The park itself just screams for activity,” he said.
Councilwoman Michalyn Easter-Thomas said she wanted to see the results of a city-funded study looking at the highest and best uses for Mud Island before making a decision about the adventure park.
Memphis River Parks Partnership CEO Carol Coletta said that would be available soon.
“We’re about 60 days from being able to think more broadly about the future of Mud Island and I’m hoping that the timing of these two things will coincide,” she said.
Coletta said it was important to consider the adventure park concept, and any other proposals, within the context of a broad vision for Mud Island.
“Obviously everybody wants to see Mud Island come back into active use, and there are lots of options for doing that,” she added.
Carpenter said the group wanted to start work on the project as soon as possible to try to align the opening of the park with the opening of the new Tom Lee Park next summer.
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Memphis Tourism President and CEO Kevin Kane said the adventure park concept would build on everything else happening along the river, including the Tom Lee Park improvements.
“Activating our riverfront is key to growing our local tourism economy,” he said in a statement. “We recognize and understand the growing potential and economic impact of outdoor and adventure attractions.”
Corinne S Kennedy covers economic development and healthcare for The Commercial Appeal. She can be reached via email at [email protected]