VOL. 130 | NO. 113 | Thursday, June 11, 2015
Carlisle Corp. Gets Tentative OK on One Beale Plan
By Amos Maki
Developers got a tentative green light to move forward with the ambitious One Beale project, convincing regulators that the twin skyscraper development would be a game-changer for the Memphis skyline.
The Memphis-Shelby County Land Use Control Board on Thursday, June 11, approved the broad outline of Carlisle Corp.’s plan to erect two towers for a mixed-use development at the foot of Beale Street and Riverside Drive, the first major addition to the city’s skyline in years.
The Land Use Control Board gave Carlisle Corp.'s One Beale plan a tentative green light Thursday, June 11.
(Hnedak Bobo Group)
But Thursday’s hearing at City Hall was just the first step in what promises to be a long march toward final approval of the $150 million project. Memphis-based Carlisle Corp. will still need to gain the approval of the Memphis City Council and Downtown Memphis Commission before making another appearance before the LUCB.
“We’re just excited to have the opportunity to continue to move forward,” said Chase Carlisle, director of real estate and development for Carlisle Corp. “We have a long road to travel, but we hope we’ve got a clearer path to get there.”
Carlisle Corp. wanted final approval from the LUCB Thursday. But in a somewhat unusual move, board members said they wanted another look at the final plans for One Beale, including how the developers would provide pedestrian access west of the development, including to the Riverwalk and a wheelchair-accessible trolley stop.
“While this isn’t normal, I think it’s warranted based on how big the project is,” said board chairman John McCreery.
The board voted to see the final site plan after some neighbors voiced concerns over its density, blocked views and potential traffic problems and noise resulting from the new development.
Richard Cook, a resident of neighboring 262 Wagner Place, said he feared One Beale could disrupt the “way of life” current residents enjoy.
“I’m looking at a building that will change 240 degrees of what I’m seeing out of my building,” said Cook. “If I’m lucky, I may see a sunset again.”
However, Cindy Reaves, owner of The Reaves Firm, a land-planning company representing Carlisle Corp. on the One Beale project, pointed out that existing residents chose to live Downtown, a hotbed of entertainment and tourism.
“As far as traffic, noise, people, that’s what Downtowns are supposed to be,” said Reaves.
Board members generally agreed, saying that while planners and developers should try to minimize disruptions, the mixed-use project would be good for Memphis.
“These are the types of problems you want to have,” said board member Scott Fleming, president of Memphis planning and architecture firm Fleming Associates.
One Beale would include a 30-story apartment tower, a 22-story luxury hotel, convention space, performance area, large lounge or nightclub, restaurant and day spa, underground parking and retail space.
Carlisle said that while he understands that some residents might have concerns about One Beale, the project was important for the future of Memphis.
“Where is out future, what are we going to do to move forward, what’s going to be our statement piece to the world that we’re changing, that we’re growing?” Carlisle said. “We feel like we have the ultimate solution to those questions.”
The One Beale site is in a zone transitioning from high-rise buildings to the north in the Central Business District to smaller buildings in the South Main Historic Arts District. Technically, the site is in the historic district, where zoning laws were crafted to limit building heights because planners did not want new structures towering over the existing buildings in what most people consider the traditional South Main neighborhood. But just across Beale Street from the One Beale site is Waterford Plaza, a 17-story condominium building.
Carlisle Corp. would also like to close pedestrian access to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, which leads to a little-used handicap-accessible ramp and crossing to reach the Riverwalk and a riverfront trolley stop.
Office of Planning and Development staff wanted Carlisle Corp. to build over the pedestrian path, but the company said it plans on providing a new, handicap-accessible access point on Beale Street.
Initially launched before the recession, One Beale has become a legacy project for family-owned Carlisle Corp. Company founder and longtime Downtown developer Gene Carlisle passed away May 29.
“It may have been Dad’s vision for 35 or 40 years, but it was a vision he thought was bigger than himself,” said Carlisle. “He knew it was a benefit to Downtown, to Memphis and to the whole area for economic development.”