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VOL. 115 | NO. 131 | Wednesday, July 11, 2001

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By JENNIFER MURLEY Hotel conversion makes room for senior housing By JENNIFER MURLEY The Daily News Work on a $450,000 renovation project that would transform an extended stay hotel into a new senior citizen housing development near Park Avenue and Getwell Road could begin by fall pending the outcome of Thursdays Land Use Control Board meeting. The meeting begins at 10 a.m. in city hall. Applicant Morrison Properties out of Delray Beach, Fla., is requesting a use variation to convert the four-story 123-unit property currently operating as the Villager Lodge and Suites, 939 Getwell Road, into a 93-unit retirement development known as Audubon Park Place. The variation would convert the building from nonresidential to residential use. According to the staff report from the Memphis and Shelby County Office of Planning and Development, which recommends approval of the use variation, the proposed switch to residential use would be consistent with existing uses in the area. Just east of the property is Ascension Towers, a similar type of multi-family senior citizen development. Both south and west of the site are single-family homes, with retail business located to the north. Carlos McCloud, OPD senior planner, said any future reuse of the property as a hotel is not likely. "If a person were to try to market that location again as a hotel or motel it would be very difficult for them to get the highest and best use from the property due to its unusual location and its far distance from the interstate," he said. The site is awkwardly landlocked with the sole entrance and exit being an easement that runs beside Subway Salads and Sandwiches. However, McCloud said the location of the property makes it ideal for a senior citizens community. "Its an aging neighborhood. Most of the subdivisions in the area were developed in the 1950s and still have the majority of the first owners," he said. "So, a lot of the residents have inquired about maintaining residence in the area, but dont necessarily want to maintain homeownership." The applicants representative, Ralph Smith with ETI Corp., echoed OPD regarding the appropriateness of the site. He said another reason the site is ideal for a retirement development is because of its close proximity to retail shopping centers located along Park and Getwell, as well as Audubon Park all of which are within walking distance. Andy Fox, a consultant working with the applicant, said once the use variation is approved at the city council meeting, work could begin 60 days. The individual units will vary in size from 350 square feet to 850 square feet, and lease for about $500 to $800 per month including utilities. Commercial Construction Inc. will be the projects construction manager. The development will join other nearby senior citizen homes such as Ascension Towers, located right next door, and Luther Towers, but Fox said it would vary from the other in at least one aspect. "Its different from Wesley Highland Towers or Luther Towers in that the property will not be federally subsidized it will not have Section 8. It will not have discounted rents," he said. "The rents will be low, but itll be private. That will be the difference." In other matters, the board will hear a final redevelopment matter regarding the new A.B. Hill Elementary School at Olive Avenue and Latham Street, which is scheduled to open in August, as well as a brief presentation by Jerry Sexton regarding the Southeast Memphis Industrial Area.
PROPERTY SALES 128 234 13,285
MORTGAGES 80 152 8,323
BANKRUPTCIES 42 79 6,299