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VOL. 131 | NO. 54 | Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Memphis Leaders Taking New Offers for Old Police HQ

By Bill Dries

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The city of Memphis now has three offers to buy the old Central Police Station at 128 Adams Ave. and renovate it as a hotel. It will likely have even more offers by the time the Memphis City Council decides who, if anyone, to sell the circa-1910 building to at its April 19 meeting.

The old police headquarters at 128 Adams now has three proposals to buy the property from the city and develop the circa 1910 building at a boutique hotel.

(Daily News/Bill Dries)

City General Services Director Antonio Adams told council members Tuesday, March 15, that the administration will vet the various proposals due before the council for an April 5 committee review and make a recommendation on which is the best use for the building.

“It’s akin to an auction. The administration will receive the offers and we will vet,” Adams said. “We will share all offers with the city council. But the administration will actually provide a recommendation as to the one we believe is the highest and best use of the property.”

The city got an unsolicited proposal from NCE Realty and Capital LLC late last year to buy the building for $1.1 million, its appraised value, and develop it as a hotel.

But the proposal made in the last weeks of the administration of Mayor A C Wharton didn’t surface again until a resolution to accept the proposal turned up last week on Tuesday’s council committee agenda.

Word of the proposal prompted other prospective bidders to contact council members and other city leaders about a chance to also make a proposal.

“I was quite disturbed when I started getting phone calls saying you guys were about to sell the old police precinct,” said council member Berlin Boyd, whose district includes the Downtown area.

Adams said the Wharton administration put the police station up for sale after the administration proposed and the council approved the move of police headquarters from the Criminal Justice Center to the former state office building at 170 N. Main St. last year. That building is currently being renovated.

Adams said the city has had other offers in the past to buy the police station that never made it to the council for consideration.

“A property of this magnitude is maybe once every five to 10 years – maybe once in a lifetime,” Adams added. “We want to make sure we get the process right.”

NCE is an Olive Branch, Miss.-based company that bought the old French Quarter Inn at Madison and Cooper in Overton Square intending to develop a “Hotel Overton” boutique hotel, but then sold the property to Ballet Memphis.

NCE has also bought two parcels of property on Riverside Drive near Channel 3 Drive in the Founders Point subdivision but has not revealed its plan for the land.

Adams didn’t identify the other two bidders.

The April 5 presentation will be followed by a council vote on the first of two readings of the resolution to sell the property.

The second reading on April 19 is when the council entertains other offers. The process will start with consideration of NCE’s proposal. The next proposal must top the dollar offer by at least $500 and subsequent bids on the property must be in increments of $50 each.

Council members reviewing the process Tuesday were not necessarily looking forward to the bidding, which several likened to an auction.

“We’ll be here all day,” council member Martavius Jones said of the $50 bid increments.

Adams said the city will stipulate that whoever buys the property cannot demolish the building, which includes the original 1910 police headquarters building and a later addition to the north.

“We’ve worked with local preservationists to ensure there will be language in the deed that we maintain the façade and the historical integrity of the building,” he added.

The property does not include the Memphis Fire Museum or the city parking garage across an alley from the structure that runs beneath the Main Street Mall.

PROPERTY SALES 91 293 13,051
MORTGAGES 58 168 8,171
BUILDING PERMITS 99 744 30,678
BANKRUPTCIES 34 156 6,220