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Johnny Ryall Jan 30, 2010 5:14 PM

Downtown Memphis development
Plans have been announced to renovate and re-brand One Commerce Square. Forty South Main Street Corporation has named a development team that includes Commercial Alliance Management, Looney Ricks Kiss Architects, and Grinder Tabor & Grinder to overhaul the iconic, 31-story building. Work began late last year and will be completed in 2010.

Johnny Ryall Jan 30, 2010 5:16 PM

New owner invests in One Commerce Square
Steps to hike occupancy include HVAC upgrade, lobby makeover
Memphis Business Journal - by Andy Ashby

The One Commerce Square lobby is being used for events.

U.S. Bancorp is investing in improvements to One Commerce Square as part of its strategy to lure new tenants to the 475,082-square-foot Downtown property, which currently is 47% occupied. The bank, which acquired the building in an FDIC transaction in late 2009, is spending $1.2 million to replace the 37-year-old cooling towers and improve the building’s HVAC equipment. The project entails the installation of two Baltimore Aircoil Co. cooling towers with 1,425 tons of capacity each, with one ton having the capacity of 15,000 BTUs, as well as the replacement of the pit roof located under the towers’ structure, the replacement of other roof areas and water-proofing throughout the property. “This is a major investment, something which should have been done a long time ago,” Commercial Alliance Management LLC president Kemp Conrad says. “I think it shows our commitment to our tenants and prospects we’re working with that this will remain the place to do business Downtown.” Commercial Alliance has handled some expansions, renewals and new leases at the property since taking over leasing and management in May.

The Memphis Business Journal’s latest office real estate guide listed lease rates at One Commerce Square of $15.50-$17.50 per square foot. It’s also in discussion with at least four prospects for “significant” leases, according to executive vice president Mark Jenkins. “Because of today’s environment with the financial market and capital markets, to get owners to step up and make improvements shows their commitment to the building and Memphis,” he says. Commercial Alliance has been working to “activate” the building’s lobby by donating it to organizations for charity events and parties. “We’ve really tried to bring life to that beautiful lobby,” Conrad says. U.S. Bancorp is putting in new furniture and flat screen televisions throughout the lobby to update its look. Finally, Commercial Alliance has started a program of illuminating the bank lobby’s Ionic columns using a different color each month. “We attained these effects real inexpensively by relocating unused lamps we found at the auditorium and other places,” senior asset manager and vice president Ricardo Monroy says.

Johnny Ryall Jan 30, 2010 5:26 PM

Court Square Center has nearly reached completion. A 3 building complex consisting of the beautiful Lowenstein Bldg, the new Court Annex 2 (original historic structure destoyed by fire) and a 1/3 scale NYC Woolworths Bldg, the 22-story Lincoln American Tower built in 1924. Project cost: $49 million

Johnny Ryall Jan 30, 2010 9:38 PM

Goodwyn Condo Interest Builds Quickly After Foreclosure
ERIC SMITH | The Daily News

GOOD VIEW FROM THE TOP: The rooftop of the Goodwyn Condominiums at 127 Madison Ave. provides a good view of Downtown Memphis. The outlook for the beleaguered building – foreclosed earlier this year – also looks good. Its unfinished condo units are being completed and the listing agent now has nine contracts on the property. -- PHOTOS BY ERIC SMITH

Momentum is building at the Goodwyn Condominiums, where Hobson Co. Realtors has inked contracts for nine of its unsold units just weeks after the property was reclaimed by the bank following a foreclosure. The 18-story tower at 127 Madison Ave. had endured a rough year. When its developer defaulted on a construction loan, First Tennessee Bank NA foreclosed on the property and eventually bought back 21 unsold units out of 24 plus a small commercial space for a combined $4.5 million. The bank then hired Metro Construction LLC to begin finishing 12 of those units and Hobson to sell them. So far, all is going well for both companies. Metro is on pace to finish the units by January and Hobson is seeing good traffic and interest from serious buyers.

Hobson founder and managing broker Joel Hobson had a feeling the units would move if they were listed at a lower price point and also if they were completely finished, rather than letting the buyer make all the decisions about flooring, countertops and cabinets. The building’s smaller, two-bedroom, two-bathroom units (two to a floor) now run $175,000 to $199,000, down from more than $300,000. And the building’s larger, three-bedroom, three-bathroom units (one to a floor) now run $399,000 to $499,000, down from $750,000 to $950,000 before. “A lot of people who have been looking, who lived out east and have been looking Downtown for a while, now they’re seeing an opportunity to buy these at reasonable prices,” Hobson said. “It shows there’s real demand there.”

Price is right
Hobson said the timing of the Goodwyn project also was good because of other condo projects Downtown have been selling well. Specifically, the condo developments of the Nettleton at 435 S. Front St. and River Tower at South Bluffs at 655 S. Riverside Drive each had sold out of their unsold units during recent auctions. Hobson figured the time was right for lightning to strike the Goodwyn. “With the Nettleton, with the Goodwyn, with the River Tower, people will buy if it’s priced right,” Hobson said. “These prices are substantially different (than the original listing prices), but these are not auction prices. These are better.”

INTERIOR UPGRADES: The interior units of the Goodwyn Condominiums at 127 Madison Ave. are being finished, so they’ll soon resemble this model unit. Of the building’s 24 condos, 21 are unsold. Metro Construction LLC is finishing the units, and Hobson Co. Realtors is selling the units.

Hobson said the goal is to finish all the floors, although the emphasis now is on the 13 unsold units on the bottom half of the building. The eight remaining units on floors 9 through 17 eventually will be finished like the half-floors, unless a buyer emerges beforehand and chooses something different. The penthouse on the 18th floor will remain untouched so a buyer can choose all the finishings for that unit. Lynda Biggs and Laurie McBride are the Hobson agents showing the Goodwyn. During a tour of the building last week, they pointed out some of its unique charms, such as the large lobby with an entertaining area, replete with “liquor lockers” so each resident can keep spirits on hand for parties. Other features include a courtyard to the west of the lobby and a conference room that is reachable by spiral staircase. And the roof contains a hot tub and party area, including a gas grill for cookouts.

Hopeful future
If Hobson is successful with the Goodwyn’s remaining units, it will bring to an end the historic property’s roller coaster ride. Built in 1908, the building’s condo redevelopment began in 2006. The developers, 119 Madison Properties Tennessee LLC and Goodwyn Institute Properties LLC, ran into construction delays and other financial troubles, causing them to default on their loan. First Tennessee didn’t choose the auction route, but the bank saw a good future for the property, and last month the city-county Office of Construction Code Enforcement issued First Tennessee a $500,000 permit application to finish the first 12 of the Goodwyn’s unfinished condo units, all of which are on the bottom six floors of the 18-story building. First Tennessee executive Dave Dawson, who can see the Goodwyn from his office window, said Metro and Hobson were the perfect fit for turning around a building that struggled when residential and commercial real estate crashed. “Our goal is to sell it through Hobson and hopefully get the majority of our money back that way,” Dawson told The Daily News for an earlier article. “We’ve got a good team working on it for us. I can’t control what the marketplace will do, but we plan on it being successful.”

Johnny Ryall Jan 30, 2010 9:39 PM

Horizon Luxury Apartments, (U/C) $67,000,000
A 16-story luxury apartment tower. Scheduled completion: 2010

Johnny Ryall Jan 30, 2010 9:46 PM

Mud Island Makeover
BILL DRIES | The Daily News

In August 1976, Roy Harrover, the Memphis architect who designed such landmarks as Memphis International Airport, Memphis College of Art and the NBC Bank Building wrote a six-page description of a project then known as Volunteer Park. It was a plan for 50 acres of city-owned property. Harrover termed it a “unique opportunity to provide (a) broad recreational and entertainment opportunity to Memphians and visitors in the Downtown area.”

-- TOP: Archival shot of Mud Island River Park under construction in 1979. -- PHOTO COURTESY OF UNIVERSITY OF MEMPHIS SPECIAL COLLECTIONS
-- BOTTOM: The 5,000-seat Mud Island Amphitheater offers a spectacular view of Memphis at night but needs repairs and an upgrade to its facilities. -- PHOTO BY LANCE MURPHEY

Commercial Development:

One of the five scenarios developed by Looney Ricks Kiss would eliminate the Riverwalk and most traces of Mud Island park as it exists now. Replacing it would be a landscape of private commercial development with rows of retail, office space and residential towers. When asked if that level of change was likely, Lendermon said “probably not.” “The idea is, is there a way for appropriate private development to be incorporated in the island to provide the amenities people told us they wanted anyway in a way that helps pay for the public improvements? That is something that’s intriguing but hard to do,” he said, adding there might be a place for some commercial development, “but it has to be done with a light touch.”

Skate Park:

There has been a lot of talk about a skate park – so much that some newcomers to the issue of Mud Island’s future had to look twice at the five scenarios for the park. Skate park supporters have been so vocal that novices believed the park for skateboarders and other athletes might dominate the park. It’s a small but important part of the overall plan and one that Lendermon told The Memphis News is a strong possibility in some form at one of several possible locations. It’s a specific piece of a move in a more general but vital direction, Lendermon said. “There needs to be more recreation there and it needs to also be more connected,” he said. “You need to connect out of the park to the greenway system.”

Access to the South Tip:

“None of this is brain surgery,” Lendermon said. “Everbody understands access to the island is the issue.” One way to get more activity on the southern end of the island is to use water taxis to ferry visitors from the soon-to-be completed Beale Street Landing. “And for tourists they’re wonderful. For the everyday person who wants access, they’re too cumbersome,” he added. “In one sense, it’s easy to solve. You just provide a pedestrian bridge or two pedestrian bridges and provide connections where you want it to be.” The catch is those bridges cross a harbor that is still used by tow boats and barges. So the bridges would have to move either up or sideways to let them through. “If you go up and over like you did at the Auction Street Bridge, you can see what it looks like. That’s not a bridge anybody would walk across,” Lendermon said, referring to the steep angle of the car bridge. “It has to be grade moveable. That’s $30 million to $40 million a bridge. We absolutely love it. We would die for one. But that costs more than Beale Street Landing for a pedestrian bridge. It won’t even allow cars. … Can this community ever afford something like that?” Harrover said such a bridge would help. But he found federal bridge standards formidable in the 1980s. “You need 50 feet clearance in high water. That’s the height of the bridge that goes there now,” he said referring to the Auction Street Bridge. “I could not get the Corps (of Engineers) to reduce that, which is crazy, because only barges go up there. They’ve got enough clearance for the Mississippi Queen’s smokestacks.”

Johnny Ryall Jan 30, 2010 9:49 PM

Grand Island Files Permit For Mud Island Apartment Complex
Project Cost: $19 million
Completion: 2012

Details: Grand Island will sit on the south end of Mud Island next to Rivertown on the Island condominiums, another Grant & Co. project. The formal address of the apartment complex, at least for permit purposes, is 300 Grand Island Drive. Grand Island Partners, the group bringing the 204-unit Grand Island apartments to Mud Island, has filed a $12.1 million building permit with plans to break ground in the spring, said company president Keith Grant. The property will be owned and managed by Grand Island LLC under the holding company L2 Properties.

Grant said the project originally was slated to begin this fall, but financing through the Federal Housing Administration’s Housing and Urban Development office has slowed the process because of a backlog of other projects. Construction for the entire complex is expected to last 22 months, Grant said, although some units will be ready by the end of 2010. Grand Island’s apartment units will have 700 to 1,350 square feet and will cost between $830 and $1,480 a month. The complex will have 108 one-bedroom, 84 two-bedroom and 12 three-bedroom units. Half of the units will have views of the Mississippi River. The property also will have a clubhouse with a party/meeting room, movie theater, fitness center and swimming pool.

Johnny Ryall Jan 30, 2010 9:53 PM

Law School Ready For Downtown Move
REBEKAH HEARN | The Daily News

The University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law will reach a huge milestone Jan. 11 at 8 a.m. when it opens for classes at its new location Downtown inside the former U.S. Customs House and Post Office at 1 N. Front St. With help from two local architecture firms, Askew Nixon Ferguson Architects Inc. and Fleming Associates PC, the school revamped the building, vastly increasing the law school’s size and offering creative new amenities for students, faculty and staff. Dean Kevin H. Smith said the law school is now in “a much more stately building,” with state-of-the-art classrooms, study areas, library and even a functional courtroom.

Moving process
Moving the entire law school from the middle of the city to Downtown seems like a daunting process. However, Smith said great logistical planning by faculty and staff helped ease that transition. “The move actually went incredibly smoothly,” Smith said, noting the law library move alone entailed packing, unpacking and reorganizing about 5 miles, or more than 25,000 feet, of books. “Our law librarian, D.R. Jones, did a truly masterful job,” he said. The law library move began Nov. 30, Smith said, the day final exams began. “They just worked literally every day for two-plus weeks to pull together the books from three locations – our main law library and a couple of storage sites – and then that was completed around Dec. 14,” he said. On Dec. 15, 16 and part of Dec. 17, the faculty, staff and student organizations moved to the Downtown location. Because the faculty and staff waited to move until after the final exams were over, students’ class schedules weren’t interrupted. Smith did say because the law library began moving on the first day of exams, “students needed to make a bit of an adjustment.” “Instead of studying throughout the library, they needed to study in the parts that weren’t being moved on that particular day,” he said. But in general, students’ schedules weren’t disrupted, and faculty, staff and student groups will continue “unpacking with vigor” after the first of the year, Smith said, making the school ready to open Jan. 11.

New offerings
The law school’s Downtown location is vastly larger than the previous site. The new library alone will be about 60,000 square feet, whereas previously, the entire law school occupied about the same amount of space. Having the additional room has allowed for more amenities, and Smith eagerly discussed some of those as he went through the floor plans, which are available online. The five-story law school will have expanded student study areas and features a large student lounge on the north side of Level One. “That (area) will lead out onto a terrace overlooking the Mississippi (River),” Smith said. The student lounge area will feature a place where students can get drinks and food from a Barnes and Noble inside the school. Also, the TV and Social Interaction Room features large-screen TVs that will scroll information and news pertaining to the law school. The TVs also can be used during times such as March Madness to watch NCAA tournament games and to socialize. “That’s one amenity that we certainly are looking forward to,” Smith said of the student study areas. On Level Two, there are several horseshoe-shaped classrooms, a significant improvement from classrooms at the old location. “Our former law school has long classrooms where you can’t hear anything,” Smith said. “The new building … has well-designed classrooms – line of sight, and you can actually hear.” Level Two also features outdoor roof terraces on the north and south sides of the building. On Level Three, the former federal courtroom has been refurbished to become the Historic Moot Court Room. “It’s a large, wonderful, state-of-the-art courtroom now, and it will be used for Moot Court and Mock Trial,” Smith said. “But also, we’re hoping to have courts come and hear cases there to make it a functional courtroom.” Moving south from the courtroom is a jury room, a robing room for judges, a break room for the Moot Court Society and Moot Court practice areas. Level Four features a large reading room and private study carrels, as well as expanded space for the Law Review staff and meeting rooms for student groups. This floor features a glass-encased reading room overlooking the Mississippi. The bottom level, Level Zero, will house the law school legal clinic, which is held in conjunction with Memphis Area Legal Services Inc. “For the past 20 years, the clinic has been housed in MALS, and we have had and will continue to have a great partnership with them,” Smith said. “But now we can bring the clinic into the school for the first time. In the clinic, (students) will assist on cases under the guidance of a clinic professor, in cases involving real clients. We’ll take clients that have come through MALS.” The law library will occupy space on all five floors. Level Zero will hold mostly compact shelving; Level One will house the main desk and a reading room; Level Two will have administrative offices, computer labs and study space; Level Three will hold a large reading room; and Smith said “pretty much the entire (Level Four) is library of some form or another.”

Ready, set, learn
Moving the law school Downtown, just mere blocks from the Shelby County Courthouse, will benefit everyone at the school by bringing them closer to the heart of the Memphis legal community. Closer proximity to many law firms also could open up doors for clerkships, Smith said. Also, he said the new location makes the school more attractive to prospective students and faculty. Revamping the old Customs House was a huge project, and Smith gave props to the architects involved. “They have been absolutely superb in every way,” he said. “I’m not just saying this because the project is complete essentially at this point, but we were incredibly lucky to have that kind of professional competence involved in the project.” Construction on the building began in fall 2008, and Smith said everyone is more than ready to get into the new place. Although classes begin on Jan. 11, a opening gala hosted by law school alumni will be held Jan. 16. “It’s kind of a housewarming party,” Smith said. “We’re absolutely excited and very ready to be (operating) in the new building. “The move just went off really, really well.”

Confederate Park - Law School Public Access Project:

Construction of a concrete walkway along the top of the bluff behind the U of M Law School that will connect across Court Avenue with a pedestrian bridge to Confederate Park (U/C) $1,200,000

Johnny Ryall Jan 30, 2010 9:54 PM

Also, a large upscale redevelopment across the street on the southeast corner opened late last summer (and is heavily marketed to law students).

Metro 67, a $30 million, 12-story upscale apartment project at 67 Madison developed by EFO Residential Partners LP.

(from the Memphis Business Journal)-
Its project manager, Kip Platt, a principal at EFO Residential, believes the market can hold a few hundred luxury units. “I’m guardedly optimistic, but there is no comparison to anything else here,” Platt says. “This is a property that is rent by choice for people who want to try Downtown, people who are empty-nesters or people who live in Memphis for two-three years.” With the exception of the penthouse, units range from 587 square feet to 1,740 square feet, with the average unit being 1,013 square feet. Rents range from $755 to $2,600, with the average unit renting for $1,381 a month. The penthouse is a 2,570-square-foot unit with a private balcony on the 12th floor. While the other rooms have nine-foot ceilings, the penthouse has 12-foot ceilings. Platt would not disclose its asking price.

Built in the former Union Planters Bank headquarters building, Metro 67 also has 8,000 square feet of storage space, 18,000 square feet of ground floor commercial space and 400 parking spots in the garage across Madison, connected by an underground access. Metro 67 has a litany of other features, including a 10th floor amenity deck overlooking the new University of Memphis Law School, a wine cellar and coffee bar, a fitness center, a business center, a media room with stadium seating and an environmentally friendly design that saves 30% on utilities compared to a traditional unit.

Although the country is in the middle of a recession, Platt points to the fact that Metro 67’s leasing company, Fogelman Management Group, only has to lease 157 upscale units, not several hundred typically found in a multi-family project. He adds that while the economy is down in Memphis, it’s not as bad as other parts of the country. These high-end projects also have the Downtown submarket’s strengths to fall back on. Downtown has the highest rents in Memphis for new construction at $1.06 per square foot, according to CB Richard Ellis’ Multi-Housing MarketView report for the first quarter. The overall Memphis average for new construction is $0.86 per square foot. New apartments Downtown also have a 90.2% occupancy rate, slightly under the 90.7% occupancy average for new construction across all Memphis submarkets. “The numbers are down from years past, but just slightly,” Pera says. “There are not many areas across the country that have not been impacted by the economy, but for the most part it is outperforming the rest of the market.”

Johnny Ryall Jan 30, 2010 10:02 PM

Beale Street Landing, (U/C) $30,000,000
Riverfront Park & Riverboat Boarding Facility


Johnny Ryall Jan 30, 2010 10:04 PM

Residential, business life poised to return to The Washburn
The Commercial Appeal | By Wayne Risher

The Washburn, a landmark building under renovation at 60 S. Main, offers front-row seats to Memphis history along with classic architectural touches. The building's $7.8 million conversion into 42 apartments and 4,500 square feet of commercial space should be completed by Feb.1, developer Andrew Crosby said. "I think it's the prettiest building on Main Street," says Andrew Crosby of The Washburn's Romanesque architectural influences. Built in the 1880s in two parts as the Lemmon and Gale buildings, and more recently known as the Lawrence Building, the five-story edifice overlooks Downtown alleys associated with momentous events of the 19th and 20th centuries. Washburn's Escape Alley runs along the building's north side, separating it from the SunTrust Bank building, and November 6th Street is to the east. "I was looking for something historic, and it's a very interesting story," Crosby said. "I think it's the prettiest building on Main Street."

Downtown Developers LLC bought the building for $635,000 in 2003 with the idea of preserving a piece of history and getting in on the Downtown residential boom, said Crosby, general partner. Crosby weighed the options and went with apartments, a fortunate choice given tumbling demand for condos and other owner-occupied housing after the recession hit. Naylor Construction began renovation last December, gutting an interior that included rickety wood stairs and a massive freight elevator. The design by architect Jeff Blackledge retained ceilings as high as 18 feet, a rooftop skylight and exposed timbers.Crosby said apartments have been built to facilitate easy conversion to condominiums after five years.

The previous owner, National Bank of Commerce, used it for records storage. Crosby said a two-ton, 100-year-old Diebold safe is being restored at the National Ornamental Metal Museum for the apartment lobby.Preservation of the Main Street faade and other architectural details qualified the project for historic preservation tax credits. Crye-Leike Realtors is preleasing apartments in The Washburn. Crosby said Wilkes & McHugh, a law firm, has leased most of the first-floor commercial, and discussions are under way with an investment firm about the rest.Crosby recently won Center City Development Corp. approval to divert fees from the project's tax freeze toward about $83,000 in improvements to the city-owned alleys, including curbs, gutters, sidewalks and lighting.

Union Gen. Cadwallader Colden Washburn fled through the alley that bears his name, wearing only his nightshirt, when Confederate Nathan Bedford Forrest's cavalry raided Union-occupied Downtown on Aug. 21, 1864. Washburn was commander of the military district of Western Tennessee. The past and future Wisconsin congressman went on after the war to cofound General Mills and serve as governor of the Badger State.

November 6th Street commemorates a 1934 vote to bring Tennessee Valley Authority electricity to the city through a publicly owned electric utility. "Memphis: An Architectural Guide" lists 60 S. Main as "one of several good commercial Romanesque buildings in town." Similar to, but plainer than the Lowenstein Building at Jefferson and Main, the building is topped by "a bit of fortress architecture unexpectedly erupting on Main Street." "The building is a really fine example of our treasure of historical buildings Downtown," said Center City Commission president Jeff Sanford. "The restoration that is under way is doing justice to its historic value." The preleasing of commercial space is a big plus. "Renting ground-floor retail space is difficult anywhere in the city, but with a very substantial vacancy rate along the (Main Street) mall, this is very welcome news, particularly in this economy," Sanford added. Crosby, 38, is a Memphis University School and Furman University graduate with a degree in philosophy. He worked for CNN, founded a public relations firm in Washington and operates a contracting business that builds for the State Department and U.S. embassies abroad. Crosby and Huey Holden are partners in Downtown Developers LLC. Limited liability investors are Culti Partners LLC and Florence McGowan.

Johnny Ryall Jan 30, 2010 10:06 PM

Washington firm chosen to redesign entry to Civil Rights Museum
By Michael Lollar

A Washington firm that has been involved in design projects involving memorials to Holocaust victims and to terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center has been chosen to redesign the entry to the National Civil Rights Museum. Listening posts with audio and video clips would "help put you in the moment," company co-owner Tracy Revis said when the firm presented its ideas. The most dramatic proposal was to move a 7,000-pound bronze sculpture, "Movement to Overcome," from the lobby into a landscaped courtyard, then remove interior walls of the museum's second floor to create what Revis called "a gracious spacious place." The Howard + Revis proposal also called for enlarging the museum's 100-seat auditorium to 300 seats.

National Civil Rights Museum Expansion:

Two historic buildings adjacent the original Lorraine Motel have been restored and expanded as part of “Exploring the Legacy,” a major addition to the National Civil Right Museum in Memphis. New exhibition space chronicles the months and days before and after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Plaza, a new outdoor promenade, connects the expanded museum complex with the revitalized South Main business district and provides a community park for reflection and contemplation. SIZE: 15,000 sq. ft.

Johnny Ryall Jan 30, 2010 10:09 PM

Visible School buys chamber building
Memphis Business Journal

Visible School has closed on a contract to purchase the former C&I Bank Building located at 200 Madison in Downtown Memphis. The Memphis-based music and worship arts college bought the slant-roofed building from the Greater Memphis Chamber for $1.05 million. The college first announced its plans to purchase the building in spring 2009 and began a six-month fundraising campaign for the purchase. It raised $525,000, and an anonymous donor provided the remaining $525,000 through a matching grant. Visible School will begin renovations on the college in January 2010 and hopes to be in the new building sometime during the 2010-2011 school year. “We’re very excited that we’ve met this incredible goal to purchase a new home for Visible School,” Ken Steorts, founder and president of Visible School, said in a statement. “Visible School has made such an impact on so many lives, and it thrills me to know we’ll soon be in the heart of the Memphis community and serving many generations of music students to come.” Started in 2000, Visible School is an independent music and worship arts college enrolling more than 100 students per year. “We’re looking forward to beginning renovations and entering into our 10th anniversary year in 2010,” Steorts said. Currently located in the Cooper-Young district, Visible School educates students interested in careers as musicians, technicians, music business professionals and in the music ministry. The fully accredited college offers a three-year bachelor’s degree and a one-year certificate program. Visible School offers an integrated, holistic, academic, vocational discipleship and community-based degree that is rooted in Christian beliefs. In 2001, Visible School founded Visible Media Group, a not-for-profit music production and artist development company.

Johnny Ryall Jan 30, 2010 10:10 PM

Center City Commission to review Woodard's development plans for South Bluffs office

Memphis Business Journal

A $1 million mixed-use renovation project will go before the Center City Commission’s Design Review Board Feb. 3. Developer Phil Woodard is planning a $380,500 renovation to a 12,136-square-foot warehouse building at 456 Tennessee Street. The building, which is in the South Bluffs National Register Historic District, will be used for offices, a reception area and catering functions. The CCC staff is recommending approval of the design plans. The Center City Development Corp. approved a $90,000 development loan for the property in June 2009. Woodard purchased the property on Tennessee Street for $600,000 in 2005, according to the Shelby County Register of Deeds.

Johnny Ryall Jan 30, 2010 10:12 PM

Belz's Peabody Suites project put on hold -Ailing luxury hotel segment among reasons for the delay
Memphis Business Journal - by Andy Ashby

Construction at the 160-room Peabody Suites expansion Downtown has been temporarily halted due to a tough lending market, a challenging luxury hotel segment and Belz Enterprises, Inc.’s focus on other projects. “We’ve completed the demolition and are continuing to work through the design and financing,” says Andy Groveman, senior vice president at Belz. Large portions of the former Muvico Theater space have been cleared and the site is ready for redevelopment. Construction could start back up later this year or in early 2010, according to Peabody Hotel general manager Doug Browne.

“I don’t see the economy turning in a big way until we’ve started the next year, at least that’s what hotel analysts say,” he says. In October, there were 38 hotel projects under construction in the Memphis market, according to local consultant Chuck Pinkowski. Now there are eight, including a 127-room Hyatt Place on Winchester and a 131-room Courtyard by Marriott Downtown. “Anything which has been planned is on hold,” Pinkowski says. “If it’s not on hold, it’s been canceled.” Luxury hotels have been especially hard hit, with that segment’s revenues down 38% compared to last year, according to a Smith Travel Research report. Pinkowski attributes some of it to the “AIG phenomenon.” When the federal government bailed out American International Group, Inc., the insurance company used the money to pay bonuses and for meetings in luxury destinations. “They got chastised by the government for doing both of those things,” Pinkowski says. “So the whiplash effect has been other companies which were planning to go to Four Seasons or Ritz Carlton or another fabulous location, canceled their plans or changed their plans to another location.”

The current lending market is another reason. “If you’re trying to borrow $50 million or $60 million, it’s not the best of conditions and the best deal you would want for a project that size,” Browne says. Finally, Peabody Hotel Group, Belz’s hotel company, is halfway through a $450 million-$500 million, 750-room expansion at its Orlando, Fla., hotel. “That’s a huge project and I think that’s taken a lot of focus,” Browne says.

Johnny Ryall Jan 30, 2010 10:14 PM

Bass Pro officials to examine Pyramid infrastructure
By Amos Maki

Officials with Bass Pro Shops set up at two small tables in the middle of the Pyramid floor while they continue due diligence work on the structure of the facility.

Officials with Bass Pro Shops are in town for the next two days to continue due diligence work on The Pyramid. Bass Pro is still moving forward with plans to transform the empty arena into a combination retail space and conservation exhibit, but officials with the Springfield, MO.,-based retailer, who have previously voiced concerns over seismic issues and the structural integrity of the building, want a closer look at the flood wall behind the facility. “They are continuing their due diligence,” said Robert Lipscomb, director of Housing and Community Development and point man for major city redevelopment projects. Lipscomb is still confident that Bass Pro will do the Pyramid project and said the company is exploring every possible issue before investing the money necessary to turn the property into a $100 million destination retail center that would draw crowds from across the Mid-South.

Anecdotal evidence suggests privately-owned Bass Pro is still very interested in the project. Bass Pro Shops president Jim Hagale gave City Council members an update on the project in October, saying he hoped negotiations and due diligence could be wrapped up in the next 30 to 60 days. "The sooner the better as far as we are concerned,’ Hagale said. In addition, Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris, who turned the company from a back-room operation at his father’s liquor store into a retail giant with over $1.5 billion in annual sales, has been very engaged with the project, visiting Memphis four or five times in the last six months.

During the October update, Bass Pro officials told the city an additional investment of nearly $20 million - to be paid with federal funds and grants - would be required to bring the building up to code and meet seismic requirements. Last November, the City Council and Shelby County Commission gave Bass Pro 12 months to finish planning and gathering the necessary permits before signing a long-term lease on The Pyramid. Bass Pro agreed to make monthly payments of $35,000 and to pay a $500,000 penalty if it pulled out of the deal. Bass Pro has been making those payments and spending more money on architects and planners, another sign, Lipscomb said, that the retailer is still serious about the project. “They have been spending serious money,” Lipscomb said. “Why would they continue to do that if they weren’t interested?”

Johnny Ryall Jan 30, 2010 10:16 PM

Memphis College of Art developing graduate school Downtown
Memphis Business Journal - by Andy Ashby

Memphis College of Art is looking to move its graduate school Downtown to the South Main Historic Arts District. MCA plans to purchase and renovate a five-story building at 477 S. Main for $2.9 million where it will develop the school serving more than 100 graduate students and faculty. Plans for the building include more than 55,000 square feet of educational space and a 3,500-square-foot retail storefront gallery.

The college is going before the Center City Development Corp. Wednesday morning to seek financial incentives, including a $180,000 development loan, a $40,000 retail forgivable loan and a $30,000 facade improvement grant. It will also ask the CCDC board for a $200,000 project development grant. If approved, the project could start in February and be completed by the fall. MCA's graduate program is currently housed in its Midtown campus, at 1930 Poplar Avenue.

Askew Nixon Ferguson Architects will design the project while Montgomery Martin Contractors LLC will be the general contractor. The board will also hear from lawyers T. Clifton Harviel, Barry J. McWhirter, Arthur E. Quinn and Michael J. Stengel who plan to open a 2,668-square-foot office at Lincoln America Tower.

Johnny Ryall Jan 30, 2010 10:17 PM

Opening in Febuary 2010
Construction of an 8-story, $21.1 million, 131-room Courtyard Marriott Hotel in Downtown Memphis with approximately 23,000sf of commercial space.

Johnny Ryall Jan 30, 2010 10:18 PM

Main Street’s ‘Big Hole’ Reaches Symbolic Milestone with Barboro Flats
ANDY MEEK | The Daily News

Previously: Today’s topping off ceremony for what once was a giant hole at 100 S. Main St. represents a milestone. By next summer, the property will be the site of a parking garage and 92 apartment units. The mixed-use development owned by 100 South Main Partners and the Downtown Parking Authority. The ceremony also brings the finish line in sight for what’s been a much-anticipated and long-delayed redevelopment of a centerpiece of Downtown’s Demonstration Block. That’s how the Center City Commission refers to the two-block stretch of Main Street that extends from Union Avenue to Gayoso Avenue.

Full article:

Johnny Ryall Jan 30, 2010 10:18 PM

New 11-story, $77 million, 300-room luxury hotel tower for South Forum District
Royal Phoenix Development LLC plans to build a new luxury hotel and parking garage at the southeast corner of Linden and Fourth in the South Forum neighborhood. Project plans were approved by the Memphis and Shelby County Land Use Control Board in August. The hotel is scheduled for completion in late 2011/ early 2012.

Tennessee Air National Guard Airlift Wing C-5 Hangar

Tennessee Air National Guard Airlift Wing Administration Building

University of Tennessee Health Science Center Eye Lab - Memphis


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