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VOL. 126 | NO. 195 | Thursday, October 06, 2011

Greyhound Move to Alter Downtown Gateway

By Sarah Baker

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The recent listing of the Greyhound Bus Station in Downtown Memphis has a lot bigger impact for the city than meets the eye.

Dallas-based Greyhound Lines Inc. soon will move its depot to Memphis Area Transit Authority’s Airways Transit Center, 3033 Airways Blvd., near Memphis International Airport.

The intercity bus transportation hub is housed at 203 Union Ave., across from AutoZone Park, behind the Beale Street district and The Peabody hotel, and next door to the DoubleTree Hotel.

Because many visitors and locals alike take Union to get Downtown, the intersection where Greyhound is housed is a local landmark, said Paul Morris, president of the Downtown Memphis Commission.

“That property is a key gateway property into Downtown Memphis for a lot of people that are traveling from the East,” Morris said. “We are watching very closely what happens to that property, because it’s an opportunity to really make something great happen there, and we look for something great to happen there.”

The property includes a 28,085-square-foot main building and a 12,000-square-foot storage building on 1.37 acres of land.

CB Richard Ellis Memphis vice president Patrick Burke has listed the property for $2.3 million. While no deals are under contract, he said most of the interest has been for redevelopment, such as retail or a hotel site.

Morris said he didn’t want to speculate on which particular use would work best.

“Greyhound is relocating, that opens up that space, and there’s other space surrounding that space that is available as well that could be put together and packaged perhaps as something even bigger,” Morris said. “I don’t want to limit what kind of use it could be because the private sector will determine what’s best there, but it’s such an opportunity to develop that key territory and make the entrance into Downtown more attractive.”

From a community perspective, Memphis is retaining Greyhound, but simply relocating it, which is positive news, said Kevin Kane, president and CEO of the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau. But from a real estate perspective, there may be better uses for the property when one looks at the big picture of Downtown, he said.

“Bus stations are not always the most attractive,” Kane said. “Sometimes they’re very attractive, sometimes they’re not. But I think that there could be an opportunity to improve that area in between AutoZone Park and FedExForum, one of the gateways of Downtown.”

Greyhound is scheduled to be out of its existing space by the beginning of November. It will assume about 70 percent of the MATA space, which filed its first permit for its new multimillion-dollar structure in March 2009.

Alison Burton, MATA’s director of marketing and customer service, said construction is about 99 percent complete and that the move will not only benefit MATA’s bottom line, but the city’s as well.

“It’s a benefit to Memphis in its entirety to connect various forms of transportation in a close proximity, with the airport, public transportation, and with Greyhound transportation,” Burton said. “To have all of those various modes close to each other is not only beneficial for the community, but visitors to our community as well.”

Greyhound’s move to the airport also enhances the “aerotropolis” initiative, said Larry Cox, president and CEO of the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority.

The intermodal concept is the idea that the area’s highways, railways and river ways, along with its logistics and distribution capacities, complement Memphis International for its ability to move products and people into and out of the city.

Public transportation is a big part of that concept, Cox said.

“MATA and Greyhound are vital components of public transportation, not only in Memphis, but throughout the country,” Cox said. “And so, it’s important that MATA and the Greyhound have a first-class facility, located in an area of the city that gives the best opportunities for travel and interconnection, from MATA buses to Greyhound buses, to the airport. I think it’s going to be a real asset for everybody.”

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