Photo: The Gathering Place, Tulsa

The reimagination of Tom Lee Park is part of a movement by cities to be smarter with their riverfronts and in many instances, the smart decision has been to build a unique and significant park.  In Memphis, a nationally significant park is costing $60 million.  

There are complainers who question the cost as excessive, so out of curiosity, I researched the cost of some waterfront parks, determined their cost per acre, and calculated what the cost of Tom Lee Park would be at that same rate. 

Costs have not been adjusted for inflation, which means that these amounts would be higher if they had been.. 

Here are the results:

If Tom Lee Park cost the same per acre as the following parks, here’s what it would have cost rather than $61 million:   

$66 million – Public Square, Cleveland (2016)

$67.3 million  – York Quay, Toronto (2010)

$72 million – Maggie Daley Park, Chicago (2014)

$76.7 million – Toronto Central Waterfront (2015)

$79.9 million – Governors Island, New York (2010)

$84.5 million – Lurie Garden, Chicago (2004)

$90 million – North Waterfront Park, Wilmington N.C. (2021)

$102.3 million – Louisville Waterfront Park Phase 1 (2000)

$102 million – Ralph C. Wilson Centennial Park, Detroit (Underway)

$103 million – Nashville Riverfront Park (2016)

$112.5 million – Smale Riverfront Park I, Cincinnati (2012)

$120 million – Governors Island Hills + Art, New York (2016)

$135.9 million – Brooklyn Bridge Park (2010)

$140 million – Downtown Riverfront Park, Eugene, Oregon (2022)

$171.5 million – Tongva Park, Santa Monica (2013)

$198 million – Hunter’s Point South Waterfront Park Phase II, New York (2018)

$199.3 million – A Gathering Place, Tulsa (2018)

$225 million – Corktown Common, Toronto (2013)


Join us at the Smart City Memphis Facebook page and on Instagram for daily articles, reports, and commentaries that are relevant to Memphis.