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VOL. 119 | NO. 25 | Monday, February 7, 2005

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By Andy Meek

Developers Foresee Year of Urban Reinvestment


The Daily News

The waiting list for a new 200-lot development on Mud Island speaks for itself.

A sense of urgency. More than 400 people are vying for one of developer Kevin Hynemans 200 single-family lots on the island. Its an echo of a previous project of Hynemans, one that saw 80 homes sold in one day after prospective buyers camped out on the island to claim the lots they wanted.

Theres limited land available on Mud Island, so there is a sense of urgency to buy and own, Hyneman said. Its an awesome atmosphere to be living in down there, and its got a lot of people with a lot of vision making it happen.

In the city. Beyond Downtown, that same level of interest is being felt. Developer James Rasberry said more businesses and residents are shifting attention from the suburbs back into the city. That migration, he said, is prompting large retailers to move in and is fueling economic development in previously forlorn segments of the city.

As a result, developers predict a flurry of construction activity in the city in 2005.

Capital investment. According to the Memphis Regional Chamber, the city has attracted about $1 billion in capital investment for seven consecutive years. And though 2004 figures are still being tallied, chamber officials think Memphis will reach the $1 billion mark again.

There are very few cities in America of our size that can say that, said Ken Hall, vice president of marketing and communications for the chamber. Weve got so many prospects right now, and with this level of prospect activity, the number of companies looking to relocate in Memphis is higher than its been in a long, long time.

Hall said there are several reasons for that. One is that suburbs have succeeded in attracting new retail development. This year, regional shopping centers are slated to come online in Collierville and Southaven. Another reason, he said, is that Memphis has done a good job of retaining its corporate structure.

Weve got our headquarters and regional operations in the city, and were also seeing expansions, Hall said. Theyre staying put and building more where they are.

Hall added that major announcements could be on the way.

Its always hard to play crystal ball, but I think we will very likely see some sizable announcements in terms of new jobs and capital investment soon, he said.

Midtown and Downtown. Rasberry agreed that development is buzzing throughout the city. Hes focused in particular on Midtown, where he is working on several projects, including a plan to turn the former Keathley Pie Factory at 2271 Young Ave. into a condominium development.

He said Midtown, in particular, is seeing a strong mix of residential and commercial development.

Theres obviously a huge amount of excitement in Downtown at the moment, and I think Midtown is seeing the same thing, he said. Its really heartening to see all this activity. Its truly what weve got to be protective of and supportive of. Your core is where the life, body and heart of the city is.

According to the Center City Commission, new development in Downtown last year totaled almost $500 million in construction and renovation projects. In Midtown, Rasberry estimated there is more than $130 million in development going on at the moment.

On Barksdale, theres $9 million to $10 million in residential development, he said. The Pie Factory alone will be about $4 million. Theres just a lot of activity, although Midtown is not getting a lot of ink about it. But its an area that gives access to Downtown and has its own unique character.

Urban philosophy. In a speech to city leaders earlier this month, former Indianapolis Mayor Bill Hudnut said one of the themes he touted as mayor in his own city is that you cant be a suburb of nothing.

As mayor of Indianapolis my No. 1 priority was to encourage urban reinvestment without discouraging suburban investment, Hudnut said.

That philosophy is being helped along in Memphis, Hall said, by the fact that more people are staying inside the city. According to Danny Buring, a broker with The Shopping Center Group Inc., about 250,000 consumers reside within the Interstate 240 loop, representing about 20 percent of the Memphis Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Attracting residents, businesses. And the main ingredient to keep the citys core strong is more people, Hall said.

Its great to have Home Depot come into Midtown, and that sends a very clear signal as does the Wal-Mart in Whitehaven that our populations are stable, Hall said. People are not fleeing, but in fact theres enough of a population to warrant new growth.


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