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VOL. 118 | NO. 86 | Monday, May 17, 2004

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Collierville Experiences Retail Boom

Open-air mall brings new development south of Poplar


The Daily News

When Cousins Properties Inc. and Jim Wilson & Associates Inc. purchased 135 acres of land for the much-talked about open-air shopping mall in Collierville, it didnt signal the beginning of a retail trend for the town.

The trend was already under way.

Numerous commercial projects have been built or started recently in Collierville. And it seems the growth will only continue.

The reason is that demographically, its appealing, said Scott Barton, vice president of retail services for commercial real estate services firm CB Richard Ellis. There is a very high average income, and until now, the residents have had to travel a great distance to get to any retail development.

Major development. The Avenue at Carriage Crossing, an 800,000-square-foot open-air shopping mall with retailers including Dillards, Parisian, Ann Taylor Loft, Barnes & Noble and Victorias Secret, will play a major role in keeping Collierville residents and their money at home.

Located at the intersection of Houston Levee Road and Bill Morris Parkway, the mall has received commitments from 40 retailers and restaurants. Construction will start within the next 30 days, and the mall is scheduled to open in October 2005.

Other activity. The Avenue at Carriage Crossing is not the only commercial growth happening in Collierville. A project including a Kohls store at Poplar Avenue and Houston Levee Road opened in the spring in Gallina Centro. Other projects are planned for that Boyle development, including a Pier One store that goes before the Board of Mayor and Aldermen next month.

Other projects under way include a retail center being built just north of the intersection of Poplar and Byhalia Road that will include a Target and a Schnucks grocery store. Lowes Home Improvement will seek approval from the Collierville Planning Commission next month for a store in the area, as well.

Shifting trend. The number of commercial developments under way in the town comes in sharp contrast to construction trends a decade ago, when most projects were residential.

Ive been here six and a half years, and the first three or four years or so, it was a lot of residential development with some commercial, said Harvey Matheny, Collierville development director. Id say in the last three years, its sort of flip-flopped. We still had residential growth last year was strong in residential but commercial growth has kicked in, and that stands to reason. They want to see the rooftops here before people come out with businesses and retail establishments.

Growth across the board. Last year was strong for both residential and commercial building 489 residential building permits and 105 non-residential permits were filed in 2003, according to town statistics.

I think its safe to say were experiencing more commercial growth now than weve ever experienced, Matheny said. Even without Carriage Crossing, I think that could still be said with Target, Schnucks, Kohls, Walgreens.

While not all of those projects began in 2003, Matheny said 519,000 square feet of commercial development was approved by the planning department last year.

Thats about 72 acres worth of developments, he said.

Why now? There are many reasons rapid commercial growth is occurring in Collierville. One is the simple fact that until recently, infrastructure did not exist to support new development.

The reason nothing south of Poplar started happening until about six years ago is because sewer wasnt available, Matheny said. You didnt have any sewer collection available, and you had no sewer treatment plant to handle that area.

But in the late 1990s with the addition of the FedEx World Technology Center, as well as the extension of both Winchester Road and Bill Morris Parkway, things changed.

With the extension of Winchester and (Bill Morris), Collierville is all of the sudden not that far away anymore, Matheny said. There is a separation, but we certainly are a part of the regional economy. We werent as accessible to it before.

Winchester Road could be on its way to becoming a commercial center stretching from Hickory Hill east through Collierville. And that includes nearby Bill Morris Parkway.

Carriage Crossing will lead to increased development all along the (Bill Morris) corridor, Barton said. As more and more cars travel that road to get to that development, I think youll see developments sprout up.

Expectations. As for the future, Barton sees Collierville becoming a major retail player in Metro Memphis.

Long-term, some people look at Memphis as having three commercial nodes Wolfchase, Southaven and the third being Collierville, he said. If that turns out to be correct, I think the market can definitely support what is there now. And given the location on (Bill Morris) Parkway, I think that gives Carriage Crossing the opportunity to be a destination.

New center of activity. Danny Buring of the Shopping Center Group said most development in Collierville will occur south of Poplar now.

I think we have seen about as much development on Poplar in Collierville as were going to see, he said. I think well see more oriented around the mall.

Wherever developers decide to go, the growth will only continue.

I get several calls a week from various developers or their brokers looking at different parcels asking about zoning or land use, Matheny said. Id say there are probably more inquiries about possible site locations than Ive seen, at least within the last six months.


PROPERTY SALES 56 289 2,908
MORTGAGES 55 226 2,009
BUILDING PERMITS 108 1,002 6,703
BANKRUPTCIES 42 248 1,225