VOL. 132 | NO. 146 | Tuesday, July 25, 2017
Binghampton, Frayser Retail Projects Look To Lift Communities
By Patrick Lantrip
Construction of the Binghampton Gateway Center is underway. The center will address a lack of access to fresh food options for many in the neighborhood. (Memphis News/Patrick Lantrip)
They say retail is a numbers game, and for some communities, when those numbers don’t add up they can get left behind by developers.
That’s why the Binghampton Gateway and Frayser Gateway – a pair of retail projects in different areas and stages of development – hope to send a message that overlooked communities have more to offer than just numbers.
“We cannot have a great city when areas of the city are disenfranchised from the growth and prosperity taking place,” said Shawn Massey, a partner in The Shopping Center Group’s Memphis office, who has been the public face of both projects and is handling leasing for each. “I have been blessed with a great career in Germantown, Collierville and other communities that are thriving, but until all communities see a reinvestment take place, we cannot truly become a great city.”
The Binghampton and Frayser projects are technically unrelated and do differ in some ways, but they also share much more in common than Massey’s involvement.
“I have met people who care so deeply about these communities that they are giving back their time, talents and treasure,” he said. “Projects like the Binghampton and Frayser Gateway centers are providing a need a critical ‘love touch’ that the residents can see.”
These days, things are looking great for the Binghampton Gateway, located near the intersection of Tillman Street and Sam Cooper Boulevard, as it’s under construction and has already landed grocery anchor Save-A-Lot and discount retailer Dollar Tree. But for more than 10 years, the project struggled to gain the necessary momentum.
“No project I have worked on in Memphis has given me as much satisfaction as being part of the Binghampton Gateway development team,” Massey said. “I just happen to be out front, but the credit really goes to (former Binghampton Development Corp. director) Robert (Montague), Noah Gray, the current executive director of the BDC, and Steve Bowie. I have developed friendships working on this project that will last a lifetime.”
Meanwhile, to the north, Massey said he hopes leverage what he learned in Binghampton and apply it more efficiently to the Frayser project, which is much earlier in the development process. The proposed $16 million project received a 15-year tax abatement from the Economic Development Growth Engine in June.
Though Frayser Gateway is a private development undertaken by one of Massey’s former real estate development students at the University of Memphis, he reiterated that like Binghampton, the project doesn’t get off the ground without the hard work of the community stakeholders.
“If I did not have the support of the Frayser CDC I would not be in the market,” Massey said. “Honestly it would be easier for me to work the high-growth areas and devote more of my time there to make more money, but being with the leaders in these communities, I now see the bigger picture of what makes a city great.”
Frayser CDC executive director Steve Lockwood said while there are many things to like about this project, he mostly excited about the new message that it sends, which is that Frayser is ripe for development.
“(The site) really leaves something to be desired in terms of show and what it offers, and that’s just not representative of this neighborhood,” Lockwood said. “There’s 95,000 cars a day that go by right there, and there are no businesses located to stop and capture some of that commerce.”
Lockwood said getting new development in Frayser has been challenging at times, but hopefully projects like these, coupled with a reinvigorated housing market, will change some of the negative stereotypes surrounding the proud community.
“It’s been a long time coming,” he said.
Further down the horizon, Massey has been contacted by a group of residents in the up-and-coming South City neighborhood to bring a grocery-anchored development to their neighborhood, but no site has been chosen to date.
“Most market developers would shy away from these markets and have for decades,” Massey said. “Developing in the inner city is not the same as developing urban projects in Downtown or trendy neighborhoods. It would not be possible to develop in these markets without some public incentives and more importantly support of the neighborhood.”