The city council this week voted 12-0 (Kemp Conrad recused himself) to move the Pyramid/Pinch District/convention center project along. A committee of the county commission voted 6-1 to let the city buy the county's share of the Memphis Cook Convention Center for $74.9 million, which is one of the key ingredients in the deal.
The "no" vote was cast by committee chairman James Harvey, who is running against Wharton for Memphis mayor in October. Wharton called the deal "transformative" and "a game changer."
After listening to a summary of the project by a county finance official Wednesday, Harvey opined "If Mayor Wharton said it probably no one is going to believe it." Later in the meeting Harvey said he is concerned that the deal is a good one for the county but not the city, where he lives, because it will increase the debt load.
Other members of the committee were supportive of the convention center debt deal, if not the general project.
"This makes great business sense," said Terry Roland.
"I have never seen anybody pay us anything for anything," said Sidney Chism. "We need to move."
"From the county's perspective this is a no-brainer but as a city resident I have real concerns about the whole scheme," said Heidi Shafer.
"I am going to defer to the judgment and wisdom of the city," said Walter Bailey. He called the Bass Pro deal "a blind bet."
"I'm just not jumping up and down just because Bass Pro wants to jerk my chain," said Henri Brooks, who, along with Steve Mulroy, abstained on the vote.
The full commission will take up the matter next week.