Pyramid Earthquake Upgrade Would Cost $15-20 Million

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Upgrading seismic protection for the Pyramid and a Bass Pro store would cost $5.2 million initially and as much as $20 million when the work is finished.

Memphis Housing and Community Development Director Robert Lipscomb gave those numbers to members of the Memphis City Council Tuesday. He said Bass Pro executives wanted to "test the appetite" of the council before proceeding.

"I have not heard anything negative," said council chairman Myron Lowery.

The additional seismic protections were announced several weeks ago and are not in response to the earthquake in Japan, although Lipscomb did note that Memphis and Seattle have been mentioned as earthquake risk areas in recent media reports.

The first stage would be below ground and the second stage above ground in the building itself.

Responding to a question from a council member, Lipscomb said it would cost an estimated $6-8 million to demolish The Pyramid, less the salvage. He said Bass Pro is the only serious suitor for the iconic building.

On another subject, Lipscomb gave a status report on the fairgrounds redevelopment. He said several "quick wins" would set the stage for a developer to make it "an urban village" of retail and residential and a sports venue. The quick wins include $25 million worth of upgrades to the stadium, a pair of Jumbotrons for $3 million, demolition of the Coliseum for $2.2 million, and property acquisition on Hollywood and other streets bordering the fairgrounds.

Lipscomb hopes to get approval from the council on April 5th. In his proposal, the city would be project manager and solicit proposals from developers. An advisory committee of five to seven members would be appointed by the mayor and approved by the council.

The financing method would be some combination of tax-increment financing and Tourism Development Zone funds. Both of those use revenues generated by the project as well as incremental taxes from Midtown areas. That way they can be touted as not tapping money from the city's general fund in an election year.

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