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VOL. 114 | NO. 3 | Thursday, January 6, 2000

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Union Avenue hotel Union Avenue hotel scheduled for facelift By KATHLEEN BURT The Daily News A sight that greets those entering the Medical Center District from Downtown by way of Union Avenue is the subject of a tax freeze request. Allad Investment Inc. is seeking a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes lease from the Center City Revenue Finance Corp. for renovation of the Admiral Benbow Inn at 1220 Union Ave. The $4.6 million project to transform the motel into a 190-room facility is the only project scheduled for review by the CCRFC at its meeting Tuesday. The renovated inn will be known as the Villager Lodge. ``Theyre going to keep it as a motel to serve the Medical District. Its a great project, said Michael Stevens, vice president of development for the Center City Commission. The company has obtained $3 million in financing to remodel the hotel and raise it to the standards required by Villager Lodges parent company, Cendant Corp., Stevens said. The Design Review Board will review the project Jan. 12. Allad also has indicated it plans to seek a development loan for the project from the Center City Development Corp. Attempts to reach the management of the Admiral Benbow and Charles Musselman, the applicant on the project, were unsuccessful by press time. Musselman is with Sunbelt Hotel Brokers and Management in Olive Branch, Miss. The Union Avenue property will not be the first location of a Villager Lodge in the city. Memphis Villager Lodge is an extended-stay hotel located at 939 Getwell Road. Although the building was built in 1987, Villager Lodge opened there in 1997. The company also operates hotels in Johnson City, Chattanooga and Manchester, Tenn., and other states across the southeast. Las Vegas-based Villager Franchise Systems Inc. is an extended-stay economy chain of more than 125 locations and over 10,000 guestrooms in 36 U.S. states The Admiral Benbow renovation is the second major project occurring in the Medical Center section of Union. Developers of the Echelon at Midtown apartment community have razed the building that formerly housed the Memphis Funeral Home to make way for construction of 297 apartment units in an area where there has been virtually no residential construction since the 1970s. Midtown was attractive to Echelon because of its artistic, eclectic feel, said Brent Little, vice president of development for Echelon Residential. Montgomery, Ala.-based Lowder Construction Co. is the general contractor for construction of the $20.5 million apartment project, and Memphis-based Flintco is the general contractor for construction of the adjoining four-story garage also under development by Echelon.

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