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VOL. 118 | NO. 225 | Monday, December 13, 2004

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Retailers Moving to Whitehaven

Large-Scale Retail Heads for Whitehaven

Wal-Mart spawns further development in underserved area


The Daily News

When Wal-Mart Supercenter opens its doors in Whitehaven next year, it will mark an important moment for the South Memphis community.

The retail giant is making an investment in Whitehaven, something other retailers have been slow to do, despite the areas solid population base. But new retail is expected to soon begin making an appearance in the community.

Driving development. Chamberlain, McCreery & Rice will begin construction soon on Belvedere Commons, a 20,000-square-foot retail center adjacent to the Wal-Mart site on Elvis Presley Boulevard.

Thats what brought us there, being next to Wal-Mart, said Hank Rice, a partner with Chamberlain, McCreery & Rice. If theyre going to make that kind of commitment, then there is going to be a lot of retail surrounding a Wal-Mart, just like there is everywhere there is a Wal-Mart.

A $960,000 building permit was filed last month for property at 5339 Elvis Presley Blvd., according to The Daily News Public Records Database, www.memphisdailynews.com. The center will occupy land that previously housed a barbecue restaurant. Demolition of the building is set to take place in the next week.

The center, which should be ready by summer, will feature 16 bays. It is 30 percent pre-leased and will contain nationally known retailers, Rice said.

Realizing potential. Finding retailers interested in moving to Whitehaven hasnt been a problem, said Scott Barton, vice president of retail for CB Richard Ellis, which is leasing the center.

Its proven to be an easy sale so far, and construction hasnt even begun yet, Barton said. Were already talking to many national retailers who realize if a Wal-Mart Supercenter is going to be at a certain location in Memphis, they need to be next door. There are going to be a lot of cars coming from both directions, not only from Whitehaven to the north, but also Mississippi to the south.

Barton, who also served as broker for Wal-Mart, said the retailer has been looking at Whitehaven since 2000.

Its been a long process, but were finally close to seeing the completed result here, he said. When I got the marching orders to pursue something in Whitehaven, it was really a pretty simple evaluation process. They looked at the market of Whitehaven and the lack of retail options The area was losing retail sales to not only outside the city of Memphis, but outside the state of Tennessee.

Mississippi impact. The new Wal-Mart store and Belvedere Commons are positioned just north of the state line, which means any retailers that decide to locate near Wal-Mart should draw from DeSoto County as well as Whitehaven.

We just felt there is an underserved market down there where all the big retailers have left that area, Rice said. People have to have somewhere to shop.

The new Whitehaven Wal-Mart could have a positive impact on Southavens Wal-Mart store, one of the busiest in the nation.

There is so much business at the store at Goodman and Interstate 55 that they were probably losing some business, quite frankly, Barton said. The lines are so long throughout the day. This will alleviate some of that pressure.

Desirable demographic. A close look at Whitehavens population shows buying power.

According to a demographic study for the area conducted by CB Richard Ellis, Whitehaven has much to offer retailers. The population within a 1-mile radius of the new retail center is 7,975, marking 6.19 percent growth since 2000. In the same area, average household income is $54,305.

I think thats substantially higher than anyone would have guessed, Barton said. I think Whitehaven has long been under-retailed.

Within a 5-mile radius of the retail center are 151,187 residents.

And Wal-Mart might not be the only major retailer moving into the area. Lowes Home Improvement reportedly has an interest in Whitehaven, as well.

In the city. The move by big-box retailers to properties inside the city marks a departure from development patterns prevalent in the past decade.

Nonetheless, Danny Buring of The Shopping Center Group doesnt expect any areas of the city to give rise to major shopping corridors the likes of Germantown Parkway.

If there were 40 acres of cleared land, I could put every big box in Memphis out there, but there are no sites, Buring said. You can either go out to suburbia and go in a cleared field and be all in a row with the other big boxes, which is the no-brainer deal. Or you can go in town, fight it and create something more difficult and create a home-run store.

The path of least resistance is to go to suburbia, but Home Depot (with stores in Midtown and East Memphis) got pretty creative. Maybe the other guys are figuring it out.


PROPERTY SALES 0 133 1,342
MORTGAGES 0 131 1,047