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VOL. 130 | NO. 25 | Friday, February 6, 2015

Amos Maki

SEND COMMERCIAL LEASE ANNOUNCEMENTS to Amos Maki, who can be reached at 603-4025 or amos@memphisdailynews.com.

Loeb Properties Bullish on Center City Development

By Amos Maki

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When Loeb Properties Inc. acquired the warehouse at 2542 Broad Ave. in 1995, Aaron Petree, the company’s current vice president of brokerage, was just starting high school.

Now, Petree, 33, will help turn the vacant warehouse into a thriving retail and entertainment destination in the resurgent Broad Avenue Arts District.

“We saw what happened on the other side of Broad Avenue and how it grew organically,” Petree said. “With that side of Broad 100 percent occupied we asked ourselves how we could repurpose it to produce some inventory that will mesh well with what is already going on there.”

The property totals around 222,671 square feet. Loeb Properties will first redevelop the western portion of the 114,000-square-foot old Sears Factory Outlet warehouse and will pursue redevelopment of the other portion as the neighborhood evolves and the tenant’s needs evolve.

Early plans call for the roof to be removed and the warehouse will be “hollowed out” in the middle to make way for parking on what is now the warehouse slab. New retail, entertainment and restaurant spaces will be created around the parking area.

“The plan really came out of us getting creative about carving out the best spaces in the place and creating new places that would be marketable,” Petree said.

The Memphis-based company’s interest in Broad Avenue comes as it increasingly targets areas inside Memphis’ core, such as Overton Square and the Highland Strip, as young professionals, creatives and others increasingly want to live in the heart of the city.

“What you have happening is people more of my generation, younger people and Millennials, wanting to be in and near the action,” Petree said. “That’s happening nationwide and Memphis is no different.”

As more people seek to live inside the center city, they need amenities, places to shop, dine or look at art.

“Long term, for Memphis to be a city of choice and competitive it needs to have a lot of offerings,” Bob Loeb said.

At Overton Square, Loeb Properties, whose roots as a company were planted in Midtown and the center city, invested millions to spruce up the district and focused on a mix of uses, signing several athletic or sports-based businesses and boutique clothing and food shops in addition to the restaurants to bring a steady, diverse stream of visitors to the area.

“I think we identified the market was more vibrant than anyone imagined, more than we ever thought, and that success has encouraged us to continue,” Loeb said. “Broad Avenue and the Highland Strip are in our wheelhouse so we thought we’d go for it.”

In December, Loeb acquired the former Newby’s property at 535 and 539 S. Highland St. and the former Peddler bike Shop location at 569 S. Highland. The company is now in the process of splitting the sprawling Newby’s complex into two spaces and talking with potential tenants.

Loeb is not stopping with those acquisitions and is actively seeking more property along the Highland Strip in the University of Memphis area, which is experiencing a wave of new residential, retail and infrastructure improvements.

“We’re continuing to knock on doors,” Loeb said.

• In leasing news, a long-time women’s accessories and clothing store has renewed its East Memphis lease.

Coming Attractions, founded in 1981, has renewed its 1,500-square-foot lease at 597 Erin Way in the Erin Way Shopping Center on Poplar Avenue in East Memphis.

Meanwhile, Subway has renewed its 1,400-square-foot lease at 1996 S. Houston Levee Road, Suite 105, inside the Houston Levee Shops center.

Laura Warren represented landlord Loeb Properties in both transactions.

• In other news, two businesses in the Soulsville neighborhood in South Memphis are receiving a boost.

The city-county Economic Development Growth Engine’s finance committee approved a $22,000 loan for renovations to Tyler’s Grocery & Deli at 973 E. McLemore. The committee also approved $25,000 for improvements needed for Michael Payne, owner of P & M Catering, to open a new restaurant called Ida B.’s Breakfast at 1011 Mississippi Boulevard.

The Inner City Economic Development, or ICED, loans are forgivable so recipients do not have to pay them back if they meet certain benchmarks. Launched by EDGE last year, the ICED program was created to allow the economic development organization to encourage investment in the inner city. So far, EDGE has approved eight ICED loans totaling around $225,000.

PROPERTY SALES 107 331 6,877
MORTGAGES 60 239 4,368
BUILDING PERMITS 190 508 16,423
BANKRUPTCIES 22 136 3,532