Big plans for Sheffield’s Tennessee River shoreline

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SHEFFIELD, Ala. (WHNT) - Investors are working to develop an area along the Sheffield shoreline into a resort destination for the Shoals.

John Elkington with Inspiration Landing Development is more than ready to get started on a project that would include a 150-room hotel, amphitheater to sit 4,500, a marina and an extravagant town center.

Elkington led another major project, historic Beale Street in downtown Memphis. Now, his handpicked team has drawn out plans for what they are calling a very special piece of property.

"I believe this is holy ground here," Elkington smiled. "Sheffield and the Shoals are located between Nashville and Memphis and New Orleans, and that really is the triangle of American music. It's important that we promote that and promote the area and honor and support music tourism and culturism in this community and this city and this country."

Inspiration Landing Development's plan for the Sheffield shorelineThe concept is developed around the famous musicians who recorded in Sheffield and those who called the city home. Elkington wants to use a 150-acre portion of the Tennessee River shoreline to embrace musical heritage.

"Cultural tourism is very important," he said. "We want the people in this community to feel what we feel - inspired."

Elkington was part of a team that worked to revitalize the downtown Sheffield area back in 2006. Now, he's back to put Sheffield on the map with hopes of bringing in more revenue.

"We want to stream the music of the Shoals to the world to bring people here."

He said an economist estimated the project would generate $1.6 million dollars in taxes the first year in operation. During the construction phase, they estimate creating about 1,000 jobs then an additional 650 permanent jobs.

Inspiration Landing Development is ready to get started right away, however they need a few things from the city first.

"We have asked them for some land that is not generating any income now. We asked them to contribute to building a bridge that would connect all the properties, and the third thing is to do some roads that will tie in this area between Alabama Avenue and Pickwick - and that's really all we're asking for."

They want to include and preserve Tuscumbia Landing in the project. Native American activists showed some concern at Thursday night's public meeting, but were excited to work with Elkington.

"We should be the center of the Shoals not an afterthought of the Shoals," Elkington said. "However, we don't want to pave over paradise."

The city owns a portion of the property ILD is looking to develop, and they are currently in negotiations. Developers are also working with TVA and said they would provide the engineers to help build the bridge they will need over Spring Creek.

ILC estimated the project to cost around $160 million.

Council members approved a resolution to move forward with the project at a special called meeting Thursday night.