Friday, January 24, 1997, Vol. 111, No. 16

Retail construction up Retail construction starts hit high for decade in í96 By CAMILLE H. GAMBLE The Daily News The value of new retail construction in Shelby County was up 40 percent in 1996, with 71 permits totaling more than $63.8 million filed, compared to 29 permits valued at $45.4 million filed in 1995. Although the number of permits and the total value were up in 1996, the average value of the permits filed was down, according to county construction code enforcement office records. In 1996, the average building permit for new retail construction was valued at $899,225, compared to $1.57 million in 1995, a reflection of the major construction projects started near the Wolfchase Galleria mall in 1995. ìI think the growth has pretty much peaked in terms of the new development,î said Brad Smith, president of the retail division of Weston Cos. ìI think 1996 will be looked back upon as the biggest year in the next five or 10 years in terms of new development that is occurring. I do believe that we will have some select development occurring in í97 and í98, but it will probably be at least five years before we see another boom like we did in í96.î Smith said the new retail construction during the next couple of years will be a continuation of the development on major thoroughfares such as Germantown Parkway and Nonconnah Parkway. He said there also will be additional development near I-55 and Goodman Road, as well as additional construction along eastern portions of Poplar Avenue. Paul Barrett Parkway, which will run from Millington to Arlington, is another major highway that will be complete in 1997 and may see some small retail development, according to Larry Henson, research director for the Memphis Area Chamber of Commerce. ìBecause so much of Paul Barrett Parkway is over wetlands there will not be many exits,î Henson said. ìBut the new Arlington exit being built will become a major interstate interchange.î However, Henson said, there probably will not be any more large power centers starting this year. ìThere is close to about 2 million square feet that has been built or will be added to the market this year, and the bulk of that development has been big-box, category-killer-type retailers like Home Depot and Baby Super Store,î Smith said. Aside from the development near the new mall, the next biggest area for retail growth last year was at Cross Creek Center, a development by Michael A. Lightman Realty Co. The center, located at Winchester Road and Riverdale, is similar to the development at Wolfchase in that there are several big-box retailers entering the Memphis market for the first time. Home Depot opened stores at Cross Creek and near the new mall last year. ìThe majority of the big-box retailers have found a home temporarily,î said Michael A. Lightman. ìYou wonít see the big explosion that you saw in 1996. It will take some time to absorb what just went in. I donít think we will see a big power center built in the immediate future.î Lightman predicts there will be some more restaurants to come on line in 1997 near the major developments of 1996. Lightman said he will start construction in the spring on a 35,000- to 40,000-square-foot retail center in front of the new MALCO Theatre on Winchester Road. The Winchester theater currently under construction will open in the summer. The major projects in the Wolfchase Galleria mall area include a multi-million-dollar project by the Atlanta division of Faison. The strip center includes big-box retailers such as Target, T.J. Maxx, Circuit City, Toys íR Us, Linens and Things, and Best Buy. The anchor stores opened in 1996, and other smaller retailers will open their doors in connection with the grand opening of the new mall in February and March. Existing retail stores have been getting facelifts in the past year, including stores at Poplar Avenue and Highland in Poplar Plaza. There is a planned $1 million renovation for the Kroger in Poplar Plaza to begin this year. Also in 1996, Laurelwood Shopping Center underwent some renovations. Davis-Kidd Booksellers relocated its store in Laurelwood to another bay and increased its size from 10,000 square feet to 27,000 square feet. Regency Travel moved into the old Davis-Kidd space. Raffertyís opened a restaurant in Laurelwood in 1996, and a Trust One Bank branch and another four retail bays, which will be located on the west end of the shopping center, are under construction.