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VOL. 126 | NO. 227 | Monday, November 21, 2011

Van Vleet Flats Almost Ready For Occupancy

By Sarah Baker

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Over the past decade, Henry Turley Co. has delivered five mixed-use apartment communities on or near Downtown’s South Main Street.

Loft apartments inside Van Vleet Flats at the corner of Second Street and Gayoso Avenue range from 778 to 1,468 square feet with prices that begin in the $900s.
(Photo Courtesy of Henry Turley Co.)

Although the entire 214-unit portfolio is now branded as Downtown Memphis Flats, each property has its own website and identity. In order of construction, those include The Cornerstone at Main Street Flats, Main Street Flats, Radio Center Flats, Barboro Flats and now Van Vleet Flats.

During a hard-hat tour of Van Vleet Flats on Thursday, Nov. 17, presented by Urban Land Institute Memphis, project developer Jason Wexler shared the building’s transformation from the almost century-old warehouse at the corner of Second Street and Gayoso Avenue to a mixed-use facility featuring 60 loft apartments and 18,000 square feet of commercial space.

“It’s one of those businesses where everybody walked by and nobody knew it was there,” Wexler said. “Now, everybody’s going to know it’s there.”

The property was built by Van Vleet-Mansfield Drug Co. in 1917, at the time one of the largest drug firms in the United States. For the last 30 years, the building has been home to the Fulmer Cos. headquarters and distribution center.

The seven-story building at 122 Gayoso Ave. will continue to house the corporate headquarters of Fulmer Cos. in the newly renovated space on the ground floor and concourse level.

About 3,000 square feet of commercial space is still available on Van Vleet’s ground floor, which is the only remaining bay for a retail or office user in all of five of Turley’s Downtown Memphis Flats.

And just as it’s done with many of its other projects, the Memphis-based development firm has made it a point to preserve Van Vleet’s integrity. Working with architect LRK Inc. and general contractor Montgomery Martin Contractors LLC, Henry Turley Co. has maintained and enhanced inside and outside lighting and the building’s interior columns.

Van Vleet’s logo is the mortal and pestle, reminiscent of the space’s once-upon-a-time wholesale drug market with Van Vleet-Mansfield Drug Co. Old radiators and promotional materials from Fulmer Cos. will be repurposed as artwork, and even about 14 feet of a former packing chute – a spiral slide Fulmer used to drop helmets from one floor to another – will be displayed in the building’s third-floor lobby.

“We may as well take advantage of it and use it while we can,” Wexler said. “Our philosophy is really to just let the building speak for itself. We try to celebrate, not hide, how the building was built, giving the tenants a chance to see the structure underneath what they’re living on. The general gist is a warehouse-industrial feel.”

Apartments will range from 778 square feet to 1,100 square feet for one-bedroom units, and 1,335 square feet to 1,468 square feet for two-bedroom units. Tenants will have parking access at the Downtown Parking Authority’s Park and Play at Barboro Flats, and also access to Barboro’s courtyard. Prices range from $965 to $1,750.

To date, Van Vleet’s lofts are about 20 percent pre-leased. The building should be complete by mid-December, with a formal opening Jan. 1.

And after five projects in 10 years – four of which were made possibly by historic tax credits – Henry Turley Co. is looking to do more but doesn’t have any announcements to make as of yet.

“We’re trying to find the next one Downtown,” Wexler said. “It’s easier said than done, unfortunately.”

PROPERTY SALES 0 110 19,224
MORTGAGES 0 125 22,175
BANKRUPTCIES 36 98 12,346