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VOL. 123 | NO. 91 | Thursday, May 8, 2008

Gateway Center To Get Image Boost

By Eric Smith

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NEW LOOK: The 46-year-old Gateway Shopping Center is showing its age, so Belz Enterprises Inc. will complete a $1 million facelift for the center, which is 90 percent leased. -- Photo By Eric Smith

Belz Enterprises Inc. will complete a $1 million facelift on the Gateway Shopping Center at 3230 Jackson Ave. in the Berclair neighborhood of North Memphis, company officials have confirmed.

The longtime Memphis real estate and development firm has filed an application with the city-county Department of Construction Code Enforcement to renovate the exterior of Gateway, which was built in 1962 and sits on 9.62 acres.

Belz now has a sign in front of the shopping center notifying the public of its plans, and the company will begin the roughly five-month construction process as soon as permits are approved.

"We're going to be upgrading the façade of the building, which will make a huge difference in the curb appeal of the center," said Andy Groveman, senior vice president of Belz. "It was definitely time for us to renovate the center. Our philosophy and history has been to make sure all of our assets are up to date and have a fresh look. It was time to get to Gateway."


Time for a facelift

Belz, founded in the early 1940s by Philip Belz, manages a diversified portfolio that includes 25 million square feet of industrial, retail, residential, land and hotel properties in seven states and Puerto Rico. The company developed and built Gateway Shopping Center in the early 1960s.

Groveman said the strip center is 178,000 square feet, although the Shelby County Assessor of Property lists it as 163,973. The Assessor's 2008 appraisal of Gateway is $3.5 million, and its legal owner is Mallory Development Co. LLC, chartered in 1996 with Belz as the registered agent.

Tenants at Gateway include Save-A-Lot grocery store, Family Dollar, Simply Fashion, Rent-A-Center, Citi Trends fashion store and Jackson Hewitt Inc. Tax Service. Groveman said these services and others are necessary for community residents, one of the main reasons Belz will give Gateway a modern look.

"Any of our centers of that size take on an importance to the neighborhood and are certainly an integral part of the neighborhood," Groveman said.

Also, the center is 90 percent leased, Groveman said, so the company will use the exterior upgrades as a way to attract more retail and service tenants to the center.

"Our goal is to have every one of our centers 100 percent leased," he said. "Over 90 percent leased is at a very good occupancy level."

Groveman said the company is flexible with regard to the number, size and type of tenants that could lease the remaining 10 percent. "It depends on the prospect," he said. "It could be one tenant, it could be many tenants."


'Refreshing and updating'

Matt Savage is director of sales and estimating for Metro Construction LLC, the general contractor for the renovation. He said Metro will remove the curved metal front from the face of the building and bring a flat appearance to the façade.

The company will re-façade the long stretch of Gateway's main building, an outparcel that has a pawn shop and one side of the right half of the building. A two-story building behind the main center will not be overhauled, Savage said.

"It's mostly the properties that face Jackson that are a little bit more in the forefront," Savage said. "It's going to look similar to a lot of their other projects, like Eastgate and Park Place and Germantown Village Square mall, just a really good refreshing and updating."

Belz's architecture and construction services division handled the design of the shopping center, which also includes new signage. Though Groveman declined to comment on the total price, the permit was for $1 million, and Savage said Metro is contracted to perform $1 million in work.

Plans were to begin construction this week and finish sometime in the fall.

Groveman said the estimated completion date is Oct. 1.

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