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VOL. 129 | NO. 235 | Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Victorian Village Homes See Demand

By Amos Maki

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A new single-family residential project in the heart of Victorian Village is doing very well, thank you very much.

Five of the eights lots inside Planters Row II, a unique master planned community on Jefferson Avenue in Victorian Village between the Medical Center and Downtown core, are already optioned or under contract after the first day of sales, according to Scott Blake, president of Design 500 Inc.

Five of the eight homes in the master planned Planters Row II single-family community in Victorian Village are already optioned or under contract, underscoring the residential demand in the area. 

(Rendering Courtesy of Scott Blake)

“Of course, I’m thrilled,” said Blake with a hearty laugh.

Blake and other Victorian Village stakeholders purchased the old ICB store site at 653 Jefferson Ave. at auction for $218,000 to develop Planters Row II. Three of the five homes that are already spoken for went to stakeholders, including Blake.

Planters Row II will feature eight single-family homes built with universal design principles intended to attract buyers from a wide range of ages and abilities. Universal design usually refers to design principles such as wider doors, easily accessible cabinets and shelves and counters located at different heights, that make homes more comfortable and appealing for people approaching or already in retirement, but Blake said almost anyone could buy at Planters Row II.

“I guess we’re all aging in place, or we all want to,” said Blake, who is also president of the Victorian Village Inc. Community Development Corp. “Historically, universal design has been thought of as that, but frankly this sort of home design is better for everybody. I’ve been designing this first house and I would live there in a second.”

Construction on the first custom-built home is expected to start in 60 days, Blake said. S. Berry Jones is the consulting architect on the first home, a 2,700-square-foot, one-level house.

The partners in the development group, known as Village Werks, include J.W. Gibson and three neighbors who live and work in the same block as the new development – J. Henderson, E. Price and Blake.

Individual homes in the gated community are expected to range between $350,000 and $450,000.

“We’re marketing to all age ranges and we expect, because of the price ranges we’ll be offering, it will appeal to people 35 and up,” said Blake.

In an effort to preserve the look and feel of Victorian Village, Blake is serving as the master planner for the project. He includes the conceptual design of the home and approval for the design from the Memphis Landmarks Commission in the sales price.

“It’s a way for us to be very design-conscious about the community,” he said.

Each home will have a two-car garage on the lower level and its own private elevator to the main floor.

The site plans for the homes are flexible.

While the homes were conceived using universal design principles, which usually call for one-story homes, Blake said buyers could include two floors if they prefer. A second bedroom on the ground floor can be converted into a studio apartment with private entrance, a perfect place for parents, college students or caretakers to live, Blake said.

“Because we’re custom designing for the buyer, we have a lot of flexibility there,” he said. “We all have different types of families.”

Planters Row II is coming online as Victorian Village, a 10-square-block neighborhood bound by Poplar Avenue, Danny Thomas Boulevard, Madison Avenue and Manassas Street, is experiencing something of a renaissance.

The Mallory-Neely House reopened in late 2012 after being closed in 2005 because of budget cutbacks. Financial support from the Victorian Village CDC and the Association for the Preservation of Antiquities allowed the Woodruff-Fontaine House to enlarge its event space, giving it enough room to host 400 people. And the historic James Lee House is now operating as a bed-and-breakfast inn.

Gibson, who helped redevelop the Lee House, said Planters Row II seemed like an ideal investment.

“I saw this neighborhood as a prime section of town for redevelopment. When you look at the historical value and add some creative thinking about its future, it all makes sense,” said Gibson. “This project fits into the bigger picture.”

Downtown Memphis Commission president Paul Morris hailed the early success of Planters Row II as another sign of Downtown’s strength as a residential market.

“The demand to live Downtown has never been stronger,” said Morris. “People are attracted to the vibrancy and diversity of Downtown, including the diversity of housing options.”

“This exciting new project is another nice addition to Downtown’s healthy stock of single-family residential developments,” he said. “Whether you want to live in a condo, rent an apartment or buy a house, Downtown has it.”

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