VOL. 117 | NO. 185 | Monday, October 13, 2003
Hunt-Phelan Developers Seek Tax Freeze
New projects could strengthen Beale Street district
The Daily News
As blocks surrounding the future FedExForum begin to
blossom, developers and business owners are expressing excitement about
potential development opportunities in Downtown Memphis.
The two-block Beale Street entertainment district could reap
big rewards from future development, particularly if a significant project
planned for the Hunt-Phelan Home property comes to fruition.
Hunt-Phelan Inn LLC has submitted a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes
application to the Center City Revenue Finance Corp. that will be discussed by
the CCRFC board Tuesday. If the tax freeze is approved, the project would add
commercial, residential and hotel space to the historic home at 533 Beale.
Future effects. Downtown officials already are
dreaming of the effects new development on the quieter end of Beale could have
on the entertainment district. With the
Hunt-Phelan project to the east and the new Beale Street Landing to the west,
the current two-block district could expand to seven, each filled with
restaurants, bars, nightclubs, shops and lodging.
With the Beale Street Landing project under design, it
could create two bookends for the rapidly growing Beale Street, said Center
City Commission president Jeff Sanford. We already expect Beale Street to
expand to the south and to the west.
Crossing Danny Thomas. Sanford said discussions are
taking place about adding new entertainment venues within the Beale Street
district. His hope is that a heavily trafficked Hunt-Phelan development would
spruce up and extend the district even further.
It really can create a link between what were now calling
the sports and entertainment district east across Danny Thomas, he said. And,
in its path, it can help to raise the standard of the neighborhoods.
The development is a mixed-use hotel/residential project
that will include a restaurant, bar and five bed & breakfast suites, all
located inside the mansion. New construction would include a ballroom that
seats 350, a day spa and commercial space.
In addition, a major portion of the project will include
construction of eight buildings containing a total of 130 residential
condominium units that will be sold. Each of the three-story structures will
house 16 condos.
Construction of the first building should begin within the
month, said Joey Hagan, principal with Architecture Inc. and architect on the
Hunt-Phelan project. If all goes as planned, construction will begin on the
remaining buildings in six to eight months, he said.
Renovation of the home, which received some damage from the
July 22 storm, is currently under way. Work on a Southern-style restaurant,
which will encompass the entire first floor, is also scheduled to begin soon.
A fresh idea. Owners of the condos will have the
option to place their units in a hotel pool for any nights they will not occupy
them. The concept is something Hunt-Phelan owner Bill Day believes will be
Its a concept used across the country, but its the first
time in Memphis, he said. People can live there or own and maybe just use
it when they visit Downtown. It would serve as a good investment.
I think this gives a great anchor to the east side of
Sanford said Hunt-Phelan is an important part of the area.
Hunt-Phelan has been sitting as an underused community
asset for a long time, he said. And, as the sports and entertainment district
grows, putting the Hunt-Phelan home to a higher and better use is very
Public welcome again. The mansion opened for public
tours for a short time beginning in 1996 and was managed by Elvis Presley
Enterprises. Two years ago, after the tours ended, Day sold many antiques
original to the mansion at an auction.
Making the house accessible for the public has been an
issue of mine for a long time, and thats what were doing now, Day said.
This will be the best use of the property.
There are things in the house you can replace, but you
cant ever replace the house itself.
The new buildings are not intended to match the historic
mansion, but they will complement its style, Hagan said.
Constructed of red bricks made on-site between 1828 and
1832, the Hunt-Phelan home was designed by Robert Mills, who also designed the
Washington Monument and portions of the White House. Saved from destruction in
the wake of urban renewal, the house was placed on the National Register of
Historic Places in 1970.
The assessed value of the property is $164,560. Total cost
for the redevelopment project is about $5.1 million. In a staff report, the
CCRFC recommended approval of a 15-year PILOT for the development.
The project also will be discussed at next months Design
Review Board meeting, scheduled for Nov. 5.