VOL. 132 | NO. 32 | Tuesday, February 14, 2017
Edge District Employing Micro Concept to Stir Retail Offerings
By Patrick Lantrip
Successful rehabilitation projects in the city’s core like Broad Avenue, Crosstown and Overton Square have demonstrated the impact innovative ideas can have on struggling neighborhoods, but fine-tuning the right approach for each neighborhood is far from a perfect science.
Edge Alley co-founder Timothy Barker is looking to kick-start retail operations in the medical district by opening a mixed-use project next door to High Cotton Brewery that will feature four micro-retail bays.
(Daily News/Patrick Lantrip)
With billions of dollars invested in its periphery, the Memphis Medical District is poised for commercial growth, but an abundance of large, often century-old warehouses provides a unique set of challenges to community developers, like the Memphis Medical District Collaborative.
Which is why last week’s announcement of Edge Alley could have a profound impact on the future of the neighborhood beyond the rehabilitation of just one building.
“We were trying to find a way to encourage retail in the district,” Edge Alley co-founder Timothy Barker said. “The medical district and the Edge neighborhood is filled with these giant warehouse spaces, so it’s really hard to find little spaces for somebody to grown into.”
Scheduled to open in May, the Edge Alley will be a multi-concept micro-retail project next door to High Cotton Brewery on Monroe Avenue. It will combine four approximately 225-square-foot micro-retail bays and a small upstairs office with a café, full-service coffee bar and lots of common space.
“This neighborhood is missing retail, coffee, food service and common space,” said Barker, who also runs the hospitality consultancy firm Table & Bar Consulting Group. “This a concept that is working very well outside of Memphis and will be the first project of its kind in the city that brings all of these things under one roof.”
One of the main goals of the micro-retail bays will be to incubate the neighborhood’s budding retail market. Barker said once tenants outgrow their micro-retail bays in the Edge Alley they will help the tenants find larger locations in the neighborhood.
“I’d like to open up this concept in other parts of the city,” Barker said. “But for now it’s about getting retail to (the Edge) to rebuild this neighborhood.”
Abby Miller of the MMDC feels the micro-retail concept has the potential to transform the neighborhood.
“I think that due to the size and scale of some of the buildings we’re working with, you’ll naturally see much more creative shared-use agreements or development,” Miller said. “Which should include some sort of retail.”
Miller said the addition of micro-retail to the Medical District helps both the developers and budding businesses looking to grow their operations.
“Some of the buildings in the Edge district are a little bit more challenging because you have these larger spaces, so thinking more creatively about their uses helps make the map work from the developer’s side,” she said. “From the business side, it makes it more accessible for entrepreneurs to have a smaller piece of a larger project.”
Four prizes will be awarded to businesses seeking to locate at Edge Alley, which will include financial assistance of up to $2,500 to help with rent, technical assistance to help to sustain and grow their business and marketing and promotions support from the MMDC. The deadline to apply is March 10.