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VOL. 126 | NO. 95 | Monday, May 16, 2011

Ridgeway Trace’s Success Fills ‘Huge Void’

JEFF IRELAND | Special to The Daily News

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A dramatic change to the retail landscape in East Memphis began in February of 2005 with one phone call.

Danny Buring, managing partner of The Shopping Center Group, made that call to the owner of the Ridgeway Trace Apartments, located on the southeast corner of Poplar Avenue and Interstate 240.

“I called and said, ‘Would you sell it?’” Buring said. “He said yes.”

Weingarten Realty, which Buring represents, closed on the eight-acre piece of prime real estate about 22 months later.

The Ridgeway Trace retail development now stands on the property, anchored by Target, Sports Authority, PetSmart and Best Buy. Staples is currently under construction.

Other businesses in the center include Logan’s Roadhouse, Panera Bread, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Yogurt Mountain, Sport Clips, Genghis Grill and Mattress Firm, with more on the way.

According to research by The Shopping Center Group, the average household income in the area is $67,633 with some 70,000 residents in a three-mile radius. Considering the massive traffic counts in the area, putting a retail development at the location seems like an obvious choice now.

“There was never an opportunity to assemble land and do a big project like that,” Buring said. “So there’s our best trade area, East Memphis along Poplar Avenue, with a huge void. This project filled a huge void. That’s the best way to describe it.”

Justin Latone, leasing executive at Weingarten, said the success of the development has boiled down to its prime location.

“All of the tenants, especially the restaurants, are very happy with the project as a whole,” he said.

Over the past decade or so, several large retail projects have been developed in the Memphis area, such as Cordova’s Wolfchase Galleria, The Avenue Carriage Crossing in Collierville and several centers of various sizes in DeSoto County.

But Ridgeway Trace was the first large retail development built in the Memphis city limits since Hickory Ridge Mall, which opened in the early 1980s.

Target, the first Ridgeway Trace tenant, opened in 2009 during some very difficult economic times. But the development has succeeded and helped others in the area, such as the Regalia Shopping Center and the Park Place Centre.

“In the middle of the leasing process for Ridgeway Trace, the economy really collapsed,” said Scott Barton, senior vice president for retail brokerage at CB Richard Ellis in Memphis.

“Things have been coming back slowly but surely. I would say in this trade area things have improved more than most. I’d say it’s due, in part, to the general strength of the real estate in the area. Regalia and Park Place were already strong properties and were certainly going to come back when the economy improved anyway. But having another strong retail draw right around the corner, if you will, has helped lift the tide for everybody.”

Highwoods Properties owns the Crescent Center office building down the street from Ridgeway Trace and is involved in other real estate in the area.

Steve Guinn, vice president and division manager at Highwoods Properties, certainly believes Ridgeway Trace has been good for the area. He estimates that about 12,000 people work in the immediate vicinity.

“I think the Staples is going to be really good. There are lots of workers in the area,” Guinn said. “From our perspective, it’s always good to see redevelopment of a site like that. It’s going to draw a lot of customers from the offices in the area. Amenities like this are always a good thing.”

“It’s obviously a landscape-altering deal,” Barton said. “Sites that size don’t get redeveloped every day. We’re talking about Poplar and I-240. It doesn’t get much better than that in terms of traffic count, access and general recognition.”

Four outparcels at Ridgeway Trace don’t have tenants yet. But Buring said there are some leases in the works and he feels confident there will be some more vital businesses to locate at Ridgeway Trace in the near future.

He also believes other developments in the area will reap the benefits of Ridgeway Trace.

“It’s brought a lot more focus to the area,” Buring said. “I hope that it’s complemented and helped everybody.”

PROPERTY SALES 57 280 1,209
MORTGAGES 55 244 916
BUILDING PERMITS 158 699 2,751