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VOL. 130 | NO. 27 | Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Developer Says Now is Time for One Beale

By Amos Maki

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A favorable lending environment and strong demand for Downtown apartments, hotel rooms and meeting space are providing a window for developers to move forward with a skyline-altering hotel and apartment development overlooking the Mississippi River at the foot of Beale Street, a member of the development team told Downtown officials Tuesday.

A rendering of One Beale shows the two towers planned for the $150 million project.

(Hnedak Bobo Group)

“I’m sure there are a lot of people in the room asking, ‘Why now? What’s different?’” Chase Carlisle, director of real estate and development for Memphis-based Carlisle Corp. told members of the Center City Revenue Finance Corp. during the first public airing of the most recent plans for One Beale, a two-tower, $150 million project that will include 280 apartments, 40,000 square feet of retail and meeting space, 20,000 square feet of office space and a 300-room hotel.

“There’s a strong lending environment,” Carlisle said. “There are lenders out there who want to lend. Interest rates are as cheap as they’re going to get. Oil by the barrel has come down. Point being, construction is cheap.”

The project first emerged with plans for twin towers just before The Great Recession began in 2007. As the recession deepened, financing became increasingly difficult and the ambitious plans were pared back to one tower before being put on hold entirely.

Since then, Carlisle became involved as the majority owner of the nearby Chisca Hotel redevelopment project. And the company sold several dozen Wendy’s restaurants it owned, providing it with nearly $60 million in capital.

The 30-story north tower would include 280 apartments, with each floor including six one-bedroom units and four two-story units. The second floor will include a 6,500-square-foot restaurant space with public access off Beale. The 22-story south tower would include a 300-room four-star hotel.

An 800-space underground parking garage would run from Beale to Pontotoc. The roof of that garage would serve as a shared amenity space for the apartment and hotel towers.

Carlisle said the project, located at arguably the most important piece of real estate in the city, would send a strong message about the city’s future to the world.

“We’re at the mouth of the Mississippi River and it’s one of our most attractive features,” said Carlisle. “Today, our site would be the missing front teeth to our city and we want to take the opportunity to fill in those pearly whites.”

“We want to take this statement piece and … show the world where we’re going,” said Carlisle. “It’s not just about Downtown Memphis. It’s about Memphis as a whole.”

Carlisle said discussions with hotel partners are ongoing.

“It’s going well,” said Carlisle. “The flags we’ve reached out to are very interested in doing it.”

The project could serve as the lynchpin to a resurgent Downtown. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Bass Pro Shops are transforming the north end of Downtown, while the South Main area on the other end is awash in development, including Carlisle’s redevelopment of the Chisca. Just down the street from the site is the Beale Street Entertainment District, which USA Today readers dubbed the most iconic street in the nation last year.

“If it’s the most iconic street in America this has to be the most iconic address in America,” Carlisle said.

If all goes according to plan, construction on One Beale could start in the spring of 2016 and take around 30 months. Carlisle said around 1,500 jobs with annual wages of around $72 million would be created during the construction process.

Downtown Memphis Commission officials hailed the project as a game-changer.

“The staff, we’re excited about this project,” said Jaske Goff, vice president of planning and development for the Downtown Memphis Commission. “It would be a transformative project.”

PROPERTY SALES 97 418 8,253
MORTGAGES 112 508 9,293
BUILDING PERMITS 194 1,059 18,126
BANKRUPTCIES 46 208 5,367