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VOL. 128 | NO. 141 | Monday, July 22, 2013

Fresh Market Eyes Midtown Property for New Store

By Amos Maki

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The Fresh Market, the upscale specialty grocery store, has had its sights on Midtown Memphis for some time and may have found the right address.

Upscale specialty grocery store The Fresh Market is eyeing the vacant office building and hotel at the southwest corner of Union and McLean in Midtown, according to sources.

(Daily News File/Lance Murphey)

The Greensboro, N.C.-based grocer and retailer is eyeing the vacant office building and hotel at the southwest corner of Union Avenue and McLean Boulevard, according to several sources, who said the property is under contract to be purchased.

The hotel site, which is currently surrounded by fencing, has housed many brands since its construction in 1968, most notably a Ramada Inn and Holiday Inn. The hotel has been unoccupied since November 2010.

The three-story office building fronting the corner at 1835 Union – called the Towery Building after it served as headquarters for Towery Publishing – is 119,566 square feet that sits on one acre.

The Towery Building is owned by 1835 Memphis Holdings LLC, a Nevada-based company. The eight-story hotel building behind it at 1837 Union is 164,969 square feet and is owned by Tennvada Holdings LLC, a Nevada-based company.

The property contains a 71,154-square-foot, two-level underground parking garage beneath both buildings built in 1968.

Holiday Inn built the hotel there in 1968, but the hotel has changed brands and hands numerous times over the years. In the recent past, it was an America’s Best Inn & Suites that turned into the Artisan Hotel in 2006. In 2010, just a few weeks after the hotel was converted to a Country Hearth Inn & Suites, it abruptly closed.

Fresh Market stores are typically between 22,000 and 26,000 square feet and feature soft lighting, piped-in classical music and gourmet food. Founded in 1982, the Fresh Market, which has locations on White Station in East Memphis and on Poplar in Germantown, operates 134 stores in 25 states, primarily in the Southeast, Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, Northeast and West Coast.

The Midtown site isn’t the only high-profile property in the Memphis area that could be poised for significant redevelopment.

Atlanta-based Concordia Properties LLC is negotiating with the Arthur family to acquire its land near the Shops of Saddle Creek in Germantown.

Concordia is known for developing neighborhood retail and mixed-use projects.

The Arthur property, at the southwest corner of Poplar and West Street behind Saddle Creek South, has been scouted for development for years. Poag & McEwen Lifestyle Centers at one point wanted to develop 37 acres of the Arthur estate south of Poplar, but that deal fell apart.

The Arthur site could prove ripe for development, especially if the developers were able to land prominent anchor tenants.

“Incomes in Germantown are as good as we have in West Tennessee and the demographics there are very good,” said John Reed of The Shopping Center Group. “As long as one or two good anchors are in place, it could easily support 250,000 square feet of retail total.”

The city of Germantown has been promoting mixed-use developments. The suburban city approved a smart-growth plan around 2007 to accommodate a mix of uses and denser, more urban development.

Germantown is also looking to preserve and enhance the western gateway to the city.

Germantown hired the Lawrence Group, a North Carolina-based town planning and architectural firm, to develop guidelines for the redevelopment of its western entrance. Germantown hired the planning firm after Gill Properties bought the Kirby Farm Home in 2011 for $2.6 million.

Also, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has been eyeing the Imperial Lanes bowling alley site on Summer Avenue. Wal-Mart has approached owners John and Michael Turley about the site.

The Imperial Lanes site, at 4700 Summer Ave., sits on roughly 3 acres while the adjacent Admiral Benbow site, at 4720 Summer Ave., sits on roughly 3.5 acres. The Turleys bought the bowling alley site in 2009 for $500,000. In 2006, they bought the Admiral Benbow site for $660,673.

PROPERTY SALES 101 603 9,602
MORTGAGES 92 538 10,616
BUILDING PERMITS 215 1,282 20,958
BANKRUPTCIES 51 408 6,108