Welcome to ‘Boom City’

Welcome to ‘Boom City’

Fireworks business wants to set up shop in West Memphis


A fireworks retailer has filed plans to open a brick and mortar store in West Memphis. Boom City Fireworks has been through the city’s Design and Review Commission twice now and has been told to upgrade the building plan each time. City officials described the Mound City Road location just north of Interstate 40 as a front door to the city and press the entrepreneur for design enhancements.

Fireworks sell only twice a year in the city — around Independence Day and during the Christmas and New Year’s season. The two seasons together spread across just five weeks of the year.

The new building represented an upgrade from tent vendors selling fireworks but the review board expressed desires for the appearance of a permanent building to meet a higher standard.

John Eberton returned last week with plans that included steel siding, a masonry base, and paved parking. The abbreviated selling season made for an extraordinarily tough return on building investment, according to the company rep.

“Everybody knows the logistics of trying to build something and pay for it,” said Eberton. We are trying to conform (to standards) but trying not to spend a ton of money.”

Boom City appealed to building standards in Memphis and DeSoto county where retail businesses with identical elevations and bare steel siding were accepted.

“This is the same as the Nordstrom Rack on Poplar Avenue in Memphis,” said Eberton. “You talk about standards for an entryway to a community, DeSoto County is the fastest growing area in the mid-south.

This identical building is in the front door of DeSoto County at Stateline road and Highway 61.”

Chairman Frank Martin balanced standards and location and reached out to the Boom City developers.

“I feel like you are working with us and feel like we are working with you,” said Martin. “This being the very front door of our city and we have one time to get this right. Once we get it right it becomes the norm and not the exception to the rule. We always work with business owners. I’m concerned with the entrance and the metal.”

Company representatives pointed out that the DRC designated city gateways did not include its mound city road location. The company owned a 38 acre tract adjacent to the two acre proposed fireworks store.

“In the text of the design review committee’s charter it basically said there are gateways to the city, but Mound City is not one of them. They are the Broadway entrance, Hwy. 70, the Martin Luther King Road, and Mound City Road was not. It certainly is out there, it’s the first road after the levee that comes of the highway. “

Councilman James Pulliaum considered the overall look for the area.

“You have the Hopefield subdivision over there across the tracks, “ said Pulliaum. “Those are some high dollar houses.”

“We want to be as lenient as we can be, but at the same time we are worried what could come after

this,” said Martin. Parking met the tight minimum

standards as well, but

commissioners worried about tight spaces and lanes anyway.

“If the standards are wrong, then we need to adjust the standards,” said Martin.

The DRC referred the matter to the city planning administration to oversee the details but called for natural color siding with coordinating tones over four feet of brick block base.

Board member Charlie Suiter appealed to past practice.

“A factory painted metal, “ said Commissioner Charlie Suiter, “earth tones is pretty much what we do. We’ve pretty well set that standard. I’ve been on here 25 years. All we are trying to do is keep something we can enforce when the next company that wants to do something and comes in here. We are not trying to set a precedent.”

Boom City Officials got to keep the flashy red entry way but took the requirements to the company for consideration.

The property was zoned C-1-F, General Commercial District Fireworks inside the West Memphis City limit even though shooting fireworks in the city has been prohibited,

By John Rech