Grace Development Couples Preservation With Infill

By Eric Smith

STILL THE ONE: This South Yates home built in 1928 is being preserved while Grace Development LLC carves space from its lot for three additional homes. -- Photo By Eric Smith

A local company is putting a different twist on infill development by building new homes on a 1.3-acre East Memphis parcel while keeping the property's existing 1928 home in place.

Grace Development LLC has purchased the 4,473-square foot home at 471 S. Yates Road, on the southwest corner of Yates and Brantford roads, for $850,000.

The company, which closed on the home last week, has recorded the plat and will begin site work - chiefly landscaping and new driveways - as well as construction on the first new home within the next month, said Grace development manager Carter Bagley.

Grace will also soon list the other two lots fronting Yates, with the goal of finding a buyer - or buyers - to construct a pair of houses similar in size, appearance and price as the existing home and first new home.

The estimated value of the infill project is roughly $3.3 million: The three new homes will sell for approximately $900,000 each, and the existing house will sell for about $650,000, although the pricing is subject to change.

Denise Ware of Coleman-Etter, Fontaine Realtors will be listing agent for the existing home and the first new home, both of which will go on the market soon, and the two vacant lots, which will be listed after initial site work has been completed. Prices for the lots have not been determined.

Cluster of jewels

Infill developments typically involve the razing of homes, but the developers of this project were so enamored with the look and feel of the existing home that they chose to keep it, albeit with some minor upgrades, including an updated kitchen.

They figure a modernized home with "good bones" will be easy to market, especially one charming enough to be featured in Decorating Magazine 10 years ago for its interior designs.

"It should be a good opportunity for us and somebody else," Bagley said. "I think someone's going to get a jewel if they get that house. It's not very often you find an older house like that that's got those really nice features."

Add in a trio of large new homes on small lots - i.e., no lawn to worry about - and the developers and Realtor believe they have a winning formula.

"I don't know if it's going to be as simple as putting a sign up, but I do think there's a market in that area for zero-lot-line living," Ware said. "But it's also not the typical zero-lot line where you come in and mow something down and squeeze as many homes on a piece of property as you can."

As for site work, the existing driveway from Yates will be kept, but it will be rerouted to one of the new homes; new driveways will be cut into Brantford to allow access to the other homes. An existing carport and guesthouse will stay, although Bagley said the carport might be torn down eventually.

'Something unique'

Bagley said his company, which has concentrated mainly on commercial development, jumped at the chance to capitalize on the growing demand for new residential product in a desirable neighborhood such as the 38120 ZIP code.

"There's been a lot of other tear-downs in the area ... and people are looking for that smaller lot," Bagley said. "We think we can find some older couples who might want to move there, maybe not the starter-home families, but somebody who's looking for low maintenance on the yard."

Indeed, the chance to turn some acreage in this part of town into new homes is a rarity. Most of the properties there are filled as developers tend to gobble up lots because of their proximity to Poplar Avenue, Interstate 240 and amenities such as shopping and restaurants.

"So many of the East Memphis areas are landlocked," Ware said. "You're seeing a lot of tear-downs and rebuilds. But having that piece of property and maintaining it - I'm more excited about saving that home than building the new homes on it. Keeping the flavor of that home along with the new build will complement the older home."

And by matching the original home's Williamsburg architecture, those involved with this project said they believe it will be unlike any other in the immediate area.

"The fa├žade of the new buildings we hope will architecturally complement the beautiful character of the home," Ware said. "We feel like we're offering something unique."