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VOL. 126 | NO. 95 | Monday, May 16, 2011

Polley: Local Entrepreneurs Keep Market Going

By Sarah Baker

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With various national and regional retailers finally following suit and getting more active in the Memphis market, sometimes the local entrepreneurs can get overlooked.


(Photo: Lance Murphey)

As project leasing director of StoneCrest Investments LLC’s Memphis office, Jason Polley has been active in the city’s commercial real estate scene for 12 years, focusing almost exclusively on retail. He works closely with both national and local retailers, but credits the latter in keeping the Memphis retail market afloat.

“The local entrepreneurs have been the ones that have really led the way in trying to take advantage of opportunities to really get into quality space with rates that they might not have had the opportunity to lease space from in the last few years,” Polley said. “As people are trying to figure out new careers as they’ve maybe been downsized or lost a job and starting new businesses, it’s been really the local entrepreneurs that have gotten out there, taken some risks and tried to start new businesses here.”

Upon graduation from Germantown High School, Polley ventured to the University of Tennessee at Knoxville with aspirations of becoming an architect. After his sophomore year, he decided to come back home, transferred to the University of Memphis and switched his major to finance.

Polley was always drawn to the design of buildings and the impact that a high-quality, well-executed design can have. But it wasn’t until after graduating from college when a long-time friend in the retail development and leasing business with the Weston Cos. gave him an offer he couldn’t refuse.

“I jumped at the first offer to join them as I saw retail development and leasing as an endeavor combining my love for architecture with my degree in finance,” Polley said.

Polley would stay at the Weston Cos. for seven years before joining Stonecrest Investments. With a deep passion for the CRE industry, he doesn’t view it as just a job.

“It is critically important in this economic environment to be disciplined in allocating time each day to accomplishing the goals set for each project and each space I handle,” he said. “Meeting entrepreneurs and helping them achieve their goals in creating successful businesses in retail developments that have a positive and lasting impact on the community are the things I enjoy most about my work.”

One example of local business on a growth pattern that Polley has had the opportunity to work with is pet supply retailer Hollywood Feed, which is branching out into Alabama, central Mississippi and other parts of Tennessee.

Then there’s Forest Hill Wine Merchants in StoneCrest Investment’s Stonecreek Centre at Poplar Avenue and Forest Hill-Irene Road. The owner of the business is a long-time Memphis attorney whose dream was to open and run a first-class wine business.

“He opened here in early 2008 and has continued to see the business grow and flourish,” Polley said. “We’re very excited of what he’s been able to create with this new venture as a local entrepreneur – taking a great risk in completely changing careers and has done well.”

Despite the exceptional economic downturn experienced nationally, the Memphis area continues to be a dynamic and vital market to look to for the long-term success of retailers, Polley said. While the details and processes of successfully chasing and closing a deal now involve much more time than in previous years, Polley is bullish that the city will carry on its reputation as a prime location for real estate assets.

“We’re turning the corner in the retail real estate sector of the economy to be sure, but we have a long way to go to get back to a stable retail environment,” Polley said. “I want to encourage everyone in our community to give local business owners their full support as they are risking a great deal to pursue their dreams and provide us all with the kinds of quality goods and services we need in our community.”

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