VOL. 125 | NO. 59 | Friday, March 26, 2010
Midtown Big-Box Site Foreclosed
By Eric Smith
Dozens of Midtown properties slated for a major mixed-use redevelopment have been foreclosed and will be auctioned off to the highest bidder.
WSG Memphis LLC, the Miami-based firm whose ambitious plans might have landed a Target store at the intersection of Poplar Avenue and Cleveland Street, defaulted on a $14 million loan through Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. dated April 30, 2007.
The first-run foreclosure notice begins on Page 44 and also at The Daily News Online, www.memphisdailynews.com.
WSG during the past three years had amassed residential and commercial parcels that comprised about five city blocks and at least 26 acres. Now those properties will be sold at an April 19 substitute trustee’s sale at 11 a.m. on the Shelby County Courthouse steps.
Lehman Brothers on March 5 assigned Stewart G. Austin Jr. and Mathew Brinner of Glankler Brown PLLC as substitute trustees in the matter. They replaced original trustee James C. Warner.
Per newspaper policy, calls to the parties involved, such as the property owner, deed holder or trustee, are prohibited until the notice is published.
WSG bought most of its parcels, all of which are south of Poplar Avenue and on both sides of Watkins Street, in May 2007 in an $11.6 million deal that comprised several transactions.
The company filed a 26.27-acre development plan in January 2008 with city officials. In its completed form, the development was set to include a mix of neighborhood retail shops, larger retail stores and restaurants.
The plan is known to have caught the eye of Target officials at one time as a possible site for a new store that would have anchored the development.
The audience at a May 2008 Central Gardens Association meeting was told by a representative of the project it would possibly include 550,000 square feet of retail and 300,000 square feet of residential use.
In a 2008 letter to Mary Baker, deputy director of the city-county Office of Planning and Development, a project representative said the plans were slated for an area of the city that “desperately needs redevelopment.”
Already, WSG’s apparent lack of significant construction activity at the site generated questions about the future of the property. Now those plans are clearly in jeopardy as the owner struggles with its loan payments and as the recession toils on.
Also, Lehman Brothers in September 2008 filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, further complicating WSG’s tenuous financial situation.