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VOL. 121 | NO. 53 | Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Mixed-Use Mirabella Could Be Catalyst for Growth

By Andrew Ashby

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AH, THE SCENERY: Mirabella, Italian for "beautiful view," is the name chosen for a mixed-use development to be built at 301 S. Front St. The developers of the 220,000-square-foot project said all the condos will have a view of the Mississippi River. -- Rendering Courtesy Of Fleming/Associates/Architects Pc

Ted Sullivan, general manager of Gus's Fried Chicken at 310 S. Front St., couldn't see the future of the neighborhood surrounding his restaurant when Gus's opened almost five years ago.

"When we first went in here, we had no idea the Forum was going in. That has brought us enormous amounts of business," Sullivan said. "You add in all these new houses and then condos across the street and on both sides, and we're going to have so many people down here - and it can do nothing but help us out."

One of those new developments is going up across the street in the Memphis Machinery and Supply Co. Inc. building at 301 S. Front St. The now-vacant building soon will be replaced by a $40 million, 60-unit condominium development called Mirabella.

Fitting in

The eight-story Mirabella is being developed by 301 South Front LLC, a partnership between David Shores, Rick Powell, Keith Sheppard, Allen Richardson, Fleet Abston and First Trust Bank President Bill Menkel. The partners chose the name Mirabella - Italian for "beautiful view" - because all of the condos will have views of the Mississippi River. The name was among several presented by the project's marketing firm, Hemline Creative Marketing LLC.

"When we first went in here, we had no idea the Forum was going in. That has brought us enormous amounts of business. You add in all these new houses and then condos across the street and on both sides, and we're going to have so many people down here - and it can do nothing but help us out."
- Ted Sullivan
General manager of Gus's Fried Chicken on Front Street

Shores, chief manager of 301 South Front LLC, said condos in the 220,000-square-foot development will range from 1,800 to 3,000 square feet, with prices starting at $600,000. The building will have large windows and a brick veneer, similar in style to condos in the nearby Paperworks building at 408 S. Front St. and in the Candy Factory at 262 Wagner Place.

"It's something that's consistent with the feel of those buildings on the outside so that it will blend in with the character of the construction in that part of the city," Shores said. "It's the kind of project it seemed to us the neighborhood needed - a really high-end, really upscale community."

Urban look, urban life

Fleming/Associates/ Architects PC will design Mirabella, while Montgomery Martin Contractors LLC is the contractor. According to H. Montgomery Martin, owner of the contracting firm, construction should start in the fall with a projected completion date around December 2007.

The project is a mixed-use development, with around 20,000 square feet of retail and office space on the ground floor.

"I think Downtown is an area that cries out for mixed-use (buildings)," Shores said.

He points to the nearby Pembroke building at 130 S. Front St., which has ground-floor retail space with residential space above.

"It's where people can play, work and live in a pretty close area, and that makes sense Downtown," Shores said. "We think this is going to be a great place for an architect to put his office and then live in the penthouse or a lawyer to have an office and live in one of the units."

The building will have a parking garage with a street-level entrance on Wagner Place.

Eight of the nine condos on Mirabella's first residential floor will open onto the roof of the parking garage, where owners of those condos can cultivate gardens. The remaining condo on the first residential floor - along with all the condos on upper floors - will have balconies.

"This is the first product that really has the same price point, feel and look as something like River Oaks or Normandy Park out East," Shores said. "We think it's time for this kind of housing (Downtown)."

Catalyst for growth

Hobson Company Realtors will handle Mirabella's sales. Shores said the company should open its sales office in early May.

Back at Gus's Fried Chicken, Sullivan said he thinks the Mirabella development could bring more foot traffic to the neighborhood. That could also mean even more eating options in the area.

"I see at least five more restaurants down here in the next few years because there are so many people that will want it," he said.

And Martin said he thinks Mirabella will fit in well with neighbors like Gus's.

"In an urban environment, you have all levels of service within walking distance, from fast food to Southern chic, like Gus's Fried Chicken," Montgomery said. "Then you've got McEwen's and Encore a few blocks away. It's just part of the urban lifestyle."

PROPERTY SALES 85 305 21,577
MORTGAGES 62 223 16,417
BANKRUPTCIES 34 138 6,717