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VOL. 123 | NO. 191 | Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Salvaggio Group Plans Brownstone Building in G’town

By Eric Smith

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TASTE OF THE NORTH: The Salvaggio Group LLC will build a $4 million, 12,000-square-foot office building called the “Brownstone” on a 1-acre parcel of land along Poplar Pike in Old Germantown. -- RENDERINGS COURTESY OF LOONEY RICKS KISS

If success breeds success, as the old saying goes, then The Salvaggio Group LLC’s next project in Old Germantown could be destined for a bright future.

Fresh off the heels of its three-building office complex off Poplar Pike – which sold in one day earlier this year – the Germantown-based development, construction and management firm is planning an equally ambitious structure across the street.

The company has acquired the 1-acre parcel of land on the southeast corner of Poplar Pike and Moore Road, east of Germantown High School, with plans to build a $4 million, 12,000-square-foot Brownstone office building, Salvaggio Group principal Tony Salvaggio said.

Dubbed the “Brownstone,” the building will borrow extensively from the antique features of that architectural form, including mill work, doors, posts and courtyards.

Salvaggio – who owns the company with his father, Charles, and brother, Jerome – said he will even fly to Chicago and Boston this winter to see firsthand the intricacies of the brickwork in authentic Brownstone buildings, helping bring the Looney Ricks Kiss design to life.

“We’re really trying to do our homework on replicating that architecture exactly as we can,” Salvaggio said. “I’m going to go up there and take some pictures and

go around and really spend a little bit of time taking detailed pictures of little architectural features of how they really used to build these buildings. I want to knock everybody’s socks off with this building.”

High-end landmark

For all its authenticity outside, however, it’s what’s in between the walls that will determine the building’s success. Salvaggio said he’s shown the building’s rendering to people who were immediately drawn to the idea of either moving their companies there or even buying it outright once it’s finished.

“We’ve had a huge amount of interest in it,” Salvaggio said. “We’ve had people calling wanting to purchase the building, people calling wanting to lease the building. We haven’t determined exactly what we’re going to do yet. We may just retain the building and lease it.”

If the company decides to maintain ownership and lease the space, Salvaggio said the Brownstone will have numerous, “flex space” options. He said the interior can be divided into offices of 1,200, 1,500 and 2,000 square feet. Or, it can accommodate just one or two users occupying an entire floor.

Salvaggio said the company will target professional firms as either buyers or renters, tapping into the huge number of doctors who want to open shop near Methodist Le Bonheur Germantown Hospital, which is expanding.

“We’ve gotten a lot of interest from the medical community just because of what’s going on with Methodist,” he said. “A lot of doctors (are) looking to maybe relocate their practices. It’s going to be a high-end structure, a landmark building.”

The desire to be noticed

Alex Ginsburg is the owner of Alex Ginsburg Photographics, the photography studio occupying the land and building next door to the Brownstone site off Poplar Pike. Ginsburg said while he initially was disappointed with having a new neighbor – he uses the vacant land for photo shoots – he now welcomes The Salvaggio Group and its office building.

“As I thought it through, I realized that you can’t stop progress,” Ginsburg said. “The adjoining property has been for sale since I purchased this location. Since, one would assume that it would eventually be developed, why not allow it to be developed with a nice upscale project – a project, I assume, which would help improve property values.”

Ginsburg is hopeful the design will meet neighborhood standards, retaining the Old Germantown feel as much as possible and keeping the parking lots camouflaged with adequate landscaping.

The Brownstone must adhere to some of that because it falls under the city’s “O-G” – or Old Germantown – zoning code. It falls outside the city’s recently implemented Smart Growth initiative.

“I am looking forward to having neighbors,” Ginsburg said. “I can only believe that good upscale developments are good for everyone. I hope that more commercial traffic will bring more visibility. Every business person wants to be noticed.”

‘Zero concern’

Salvaggio said this building, in addition to the ones the firm just completed, will help give Old Germantown the “town square” feeling the city is lacking – but which can be found in its neighbor to the east, Collierville.

“Collierville’s lucky because they’ve got the old town square,” Salvaggio said. “We’ve got a historic area, but we don’t have the old buildings that Collierville has, so we’re trying to go in and take Poplar Pike under our wing and rebuild as much as we can over here and really take our time doing it and create something that looks like an old central district.”

Germantown alderman Mike Palazzolo said the arrival of projects such as The Salvaggio Group’s office buildings along Poplar Pike have been a welcome addition – to the neighborhood and to the entire city.

“The whole area has gone from having some rundown, dilapidated houses and some shacks to now having businesses that have the residential feel to it,” said Palazzolo, noting the additional revenue those properties have brought the city. “It’s maintained its charm and character but has become functional at the same time.”

But what of the slumping real estate market? Isn’t an expensive, speculative office building in these times a risky prospect? Salvaggio said he has “total confidence in Old Germantown” and the product his company will bring to the community.

“There are enough business owners out there who are looking to reinvest in their business and get out of leases and own their own spot or get into a higher-profile district,” he said. “With the response we’ve gotten so far, I have zero concern in starting that building.”

PROPERTY SALES 140 207 19,653
MORTGAGES 128 196 22,629
BUILDING PERMITS 166 367 40,371
BANKRUPTCIES 40 102 12,588