There's no greater feeling for a fisherman than reeling in the big catch of the day, but Memphis Mayor A C Wharton knows when it comes to landing that big Pyramid lease agreement with Bass Pro, it's getting there, but it's not quite in the boat yet.
"We didn't sign, but everything's going great," affirmed Wharton.
Wharton took time away from critical negotiations with visiting Bass Pro officials, including co-owner Jim Hagale, to update the media on how closed door negotiations in City Hall were going on Tuesday.
While Wharton admitted he couldn't get into specifics, he defended the administration's efforts to get state permission to designate the Pyramid as part of an entertainment zone from which taxpayer money could be used to help renovate the area around the facility.
"This is not simply a matter of this is what we are doing for Bass Pro. It's much more than that. We're doing this for the city," said Wharton. "We don't want the Pyramid/Bass Pro building to stand there just in a desert by itself. So, when I say that we're looking at the Pinch District and bringing development there."
Wharton hesitated in offering details about what new development could pop up in refurbishing the Pinch District. He dodged questions about whether it could more include retail outlets and/or the introduction of some sort of residential enterprise. But, he did make it clear he expects the proposed $100 million Bass Pro Superstore will be the centerpiece of any plans for the area.
"I see this as the anchor tenant that's going to draw in all the others where we will become a destination spot," said Wharton.
Hagale didn't make himself available to the media on Tuesday as he did on his well received visit to the Memphis City Council Chambers two years ago, but Wharton tried to assure Memphians the negotiations and the intent expressed by Bass Pro officials remains on track, maybe even before a hoped for April 29th lease agreement announcement.
"If they weren't committed, I think they've got plenty of other places to go and things to do than run a charade through here. I'm convinced."