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VOL. 130 | NO. 244 | Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Taylor Berger: Loflin Corner ‘One of the Most Exciting Projects’

By Madeline Faber

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The “entertainment destination” planned for the corner of Carolina and Florida streets garnered $65,425 in funds from the Center City Development Corp., and the partners behind the Loflin LLC were revealed.

Taylor Berger is behind the latest effort to transform a corner of Downtown’s south end into an outdoor dining and gathering place.

(Center City Development Corp.)

Taylor Berger – who helped launched Midtown concepts like Bounty on Broad, Chiwawa, Rec Room and Yolo – is looking to transform the southern edge of Downtown as his newest venture. He is partnered in the project with contractor Mac Hopper and property owner Brad Barnett.

“I've been doing this kind of work for five years now and I can safely say this is one of the most exciting projects I have worked on,” he said to the affiliate Downtown Memphis Commission board at a Wednesday, Dec. 16, meeting.

“It's going to be unlike anything Downtown, in Memphis, really anything in the southeast.”

Word about the plans for Loflin Corner first were unveiled in a Dec. 11 application for a development loan and storefront improvement grant from the CCDC.

The application lists Barnett, owner and operator of Collierville-based Landscape Services Group LLC, as the property owner.

Plans include turning the former Loflin Safe & Lock Co. building at 7 W. Carolina Ave. into a bar/restaurant with a 1,000-square-foot outdoor deck area. The nearby carriage house at 721 Florida St. would be turned into a 5,000-square-foot rentable event space.

According to the application, open-pit barbeque, old and new world wines, live music and other outdoor programming would turn the six parcels into a neighborhood backyard in the style of New Orleans restaurant Bacchanal.

Joaquin Rodas, CEO of Bacchanal LLC, bristled at the comparison, calling the developers “would-be replicators” in a Dec. 15 letter to the board which was noted but not discussed.

In the letter, Rodas asks the board to table the request, stating, “we are writing to make you aware that we are also contacting Mr. Barnett to offer to work with him to, possibly, extend the actual Bacchanal brand to Memphis,” adding that it has been investigating the Memphis market for months in anticipation of such an expansion.

Currently, Bacchanal only has one location.

“Our coincidental awareness of Mr. Barnett’s application leads us to suggest that the CCDC table the matter of the Loflin Corner applications until such time as the business premise has been further considered,” he continued.

Staff said that the letter has no bearing on the decisions of the CCDC board.

At the meeting, Berger said that Rodas misunderstood the intention of Loflin Corner.

With the funding, the developers plan to present the layout to the Design Review Board in January and open for business in the spring.

Brad Barnett applied for the $47,000 development loan to go toward the project while related entity Loflin LLC applied for a $18,425 storefront improvement grant. Barnett, Berger and Hopper are part of the entity that would lease the site and operate the business.

During the meeting, staff and board members agreed that the project is in a critical location for the southern face of Downtown. Downtown Memphis Commission funds have helped 500 residential units grow in the area as Loflin Corner is surrounded by Henry Turley Co. developments like the South Junction Apartments, Lofts at South Bluffs, the South Bluffs Apartments and the upcoming Central Station mixed-use development.

PROPERTY SALES 23 23 1,365
MORTGAGES 21 21 1,068
BUILDING PERMITS 117 117 3,173