'Massive' New Boat Brings Friction on the Riverfront

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This new riverboat is more than five stories tall and is 275 feet long. - TOBY SELLS
  • Toby Sells
  • This new riverboat is more than five stories tall and is 275 feet long.


If you’ve been to the Memphis riverfront recently you’ve seen it.

There’s a new riverboat buoyed at the cobblestones and you can’t miss it. It’s “massive,” according to Benny Lendermon, president of the Riverfront Development Corp. (RDC), who used that word to describe it many times during Monday’s RDC meeting.

The boat is the newest acquisition of William Lozier, owner of Memphis Riverboats, Lendermon said. And Lendermon and other riverfront stakeholders aren’t happy with the new arrival.

The boat is 60 feet tall (about 5 and-a-half stories) and about 275 feet long (nearly as long as a football field). Its size has caught the attention of the U.S. Coast Guard, which, Lendermon said, is concerned that the boat blocks the harbor. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will also require Lozier to get a special permit for the vessel, Lendermon said.

The boat is a former casino (its windows are painted on) and Lozier bought it primarily for its kitchen and storage capacity, Lendermon said. But Lozier planned to fix the boat up and have parties in its “massive” rooms.

Lozier’s new boat may have fit in on the riverfront seven or eight years ago, Lendermon said. But it doesn’t fit with the new movement to improve the city’s riverfront.

“Well, then, that boat that might have been OK 15 years ago, but it’s no longer appropriate to be out there,” Lendermon told RDC board members Monday.

Further, he said, the size of the boat may be fully realized later.

“The water is pretty low,” Lendermon said Monday. “But when the water gets up another 20 feet, you can imagine (the boat will) be equal with the top of the parking deck across the street from it. It’ll stick way up in the air.”

Lozier has until the end of the month to clear up his issues with the boat, but Lendermon said he hopes Lozier finds another home for it, away from the riverfront. At worst, Lendermon said, Lozier’s contract with the RDC expires in March 2018.

RDC chairman emeritus John Stokes wondered if Lozier understood his agreement with the board.

“Is it clear to him that he answers to us?” Stokes asked. “It should be clear [that] — no matter what — he has to come to us to do something like this. He’s not on his own down there. He must think he’s on his own and can do whatever he wants to do.”

For some perspective on the boat's size, can you spot the two people in the opening on the second section?

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