French Quarter Deal Collapses

By Amos Maki

A Texas-based group had inked a deal to purchase the long-vacant French Quarter Suites Hotel near Overton Square, but the proposed sale fell through the cracks.

Austin, Texas-based ASC Management had until Oct. 31 to close on the purchase of the 105-room inn at the northeast corner of Madison Avenue and Cooper Street but did not complete the sale.

The shuttered hotel is adjacent to the revived Overton Square, where Loeb Properties Inc. has pumped around $20 million into a major redevelopment of the arts and entertainment district.

The hotel, which opened in 1984, was purchased by Donald W. Pemberton, Ron Kirkpatrick, Garnett Murphy, Rex Amonette and Carroll Brunthaver after it closed in 2008. The ownership group, called FQI LLC, bought the property for $1 million in 2009. The Shelby County Assessor of Property appraised the property at $1.5 million.

It is the second time in as many years that a potential deal to rejuvenate the hotel collapsed. In 2012, a contract from two local partners to transform the 77,866-square-foot structure at 2144 Madison Ave. into a Comfort Suites fell through after it faced fierce opposition from neighbors who wanted a more upscale, boutique hotel.

While the French Quarter deal collapsed, Overton Square’s revival shows no signs of slowing down.

Earlier this month, the 451-space, city-owned parking garage at the northeast corner of Monroe Avenue and Florence Street opened for business.

The city of Memphis helped kick-start the redevelopment of Overton Square by investing around $12 million in the three-story parking garage, which includes a large detention basin underneath it that will help ease flooding in Midtown.

Loeb Properties has signed a bevy of new restaurant and retail tenants and installed a wide variety of public art as part of Overton Square’s redevelopment, which was thought to help make the French Quarter property more attractive to hotel and apartment owners and developers.

In other commercial real estate news, Gibson Guitar Corp. has taken out a $38 million loan on its Gibson Guitar Factory, one block south of Beale Street, directly across from FedExForum and The Westin Memphis Beale Street Hotel, according to documents filed with the Shelby County Register of Deeds Office on Oct. 29.

Nashville-based Gibson Guitar filed the loan on the property at 145 Lt. George W. Lee Ave., where some of Gibson Guitar’s guitars are produced, through Wells Fargo Bank.

In September, Boston-based Goodwin Procter LLP announced it had advised Gibson Guitar in connection with a private placement of $225 million of senior secured notes, the first capital markets offering for the musical instrument company in its nearly 120-year history.

In other news, BrownDog Lodge, a luxury dog hotel, daycare and spa in East Memphis, is opening a second location.

BrownDog has purchased property at 426 S. Germantown Parkway, adjacent to Lowe’s Home Improvement near Wolf River Parkway, and plans to open its additional location there in late spring 2014.

Plans for the new location include luxury hotel rooms, outdoor and indoor play areas and a large grass backyard for exercise.

The new Germantown location will give BrownDog Lodge a much wider client base covering Germantown, Cordova, the Walnut Grove corridor and parts of East Memphis.

BrownDog Lodge, established in 2007, will offer overnight boarding, daycare and grooming service for dogs. The location will also have groomers on staff and offer pickup and delivery transportation to customers within a 10-mile radius.

BrownDog Lodge’s existing East Memphis site is at 4953 Black Road, near the intersection of Poplar Avenue and Mendenhall Road.

BrownDog Lodge pampers pooches with flat-screen televisions, comfortable bedding and webcams throughout the facility offering live video of daycare and hotel guests.