VOL. 116 | NO. 163 | Thursday, August 22, 2002
CCDC leans to Prague company to develop Rhodes Jennings
Prague firm eyes redevelopment here
By SUE PEASE
The Daily News
A company hailing from a city known for its stunning
architecture soon might be applying its Old World charm to one of Memphis
historic Downtown structures.
The century-old Rhodes Jennings building Downtown took a
half step closer to being redeveloped Wednesday when the Center City
Development Corp. board discussed which developer to hire for the project.
A subcommittee comprised of board members Joseph Lee,
Christine Munson and John Stokes reviewed the two proposals CCDC received from
bidders interested in taking on the project. It recommended hiring CGI &
Partners, a Prague, Czech Republic-based company.
However, because CCDC did not reach a quorum, it was unable
to vote on the issue and recessed the meeting until 11:30 a.m. today when a
final vote will be taken.
At the end of the day, the committee voted unanimous
approval of CGI, board member Lee said.
Both were good proposals, Munson said.
We did feel like CGIs design was exciting and innovative
and a little bit different and it would keep the building in character of
Chicago-based Neighborhood Development Corp. is the other
bidder vying for the project. The company recently finished redeveloping the
former Tennessee Trust Building into the Madison Hotel, another Downtown
The main difference in the two proposals is Neighborhood
Development Corp. would like to turn the building into a hotel, while CGI
proposes to turn it into a residential building with some commercial aspects,
board members said.
While both companies would try to save the facade of the
building because of its historical aspect, board members believed CGI was more
apt to support that option.
The subcommittee recommended the board move forward quickly
on a vote, because there is an immediate need to spend money to stabilize the
property, which has undergone roof damage from recent rains.
The vacant property, comprised of two buildings at 66 N.
Main St. and 110 Court Ave., is decaying and has had fire department fines
imposed on it.
Prague-based CGI is partnering with local companies, Looney
Ricks Kiss Architects and Chandler and Chandler.
William Chandler, president of Chandler and Chandler, said
the company has been working with CGI for about 18 months, doing local
marketing and development work.
He said the proposal for the project includes 44 residential
condominium units and about 30,000 square feet of commercial space on the first
floor and first floor mezzanine.
He said the overall budget is estimated at $20 million and
the construction timeline would be about 24 months.
Chandler said he believes the Downtown Memphis market is
overdue for a large mixed-use project such as this.
Its very important for Downtown Memphis, he said.
Other Memphians are anxious to see redevelopment of the
building, including Shawn Cochran, operations manager of Court Squares Sleep
Inn across the street from the Rhodes Jennings property.
Hed like to see progress on the building, even if it turns
into another hotel, he said.
The main thing is its growth and development for Downtown.
The more going on down here, the more reason for people to come Downtown.