Demolition work for Tom Lee Park project begins

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A major makeover at Tom Lee Park is moving forward with demolition work.

Thursday morning, a building that housed restrooms and maintenance facilities was reduced to rubble, just days after the US Army Corps of Engineers issued a permit allowing work to begin on the $60-million project. 

Carol Coletta, president and CEO of Memphis River Parks Partnership, said plans for the park received 100% approval from the City of Memphis earlier in the week.

“Memphis began here. So, you know just seeing it come to life in a new way is just very exciting,” Coletta said.

She said a large portion of the funds will go toward landscaping. 

“We will be building some stunning structures in the park and they’ll see those coming up,” Coletta said. “You’re also going to see amazing landscaping, and we want to give the landscaping plenty of time to mature before the park opens.”

According to the project plans, hammocks, a misting fountain, a playground, and shaded seating areas will be added to the park, and up to 60 parallel parking spots will be added along Riverside along with a bike path.

However, it’s going to take some time before the park reopens. Coletta says the goal is to have the park completed by 2023. 

“You’ll see equipment, but you’re not going to see anything incredibly sexy for a little while,” she said.

Coletta says all four lanes of Riverside Drive will remain open during construction, and bikers and walkers are encouraged to use the bluff walk. 

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