VOL. 11 | NO. 29 | Saturday, July 21, 2018
Growing Number of Small-Scale Investors Looking Toward Infill Projects
By Patrick Lantrip
Eduardo Sanchez Borja purchased his first commercial property in Midtown earlier this year with the hopes of adding more neighborhood-level retail to the area. (Memphis News File/Patrick Lantrip)
Eduardo Sanchez Borja, a local entrepreneur who recently ventured into the world of small-scale development, describes owning commercial property as a unique feeling.
“There is something very satisfying about owning something of value,” Sanchez said. “With commercial property, you can see how your property affects your community and moves along the economy.”
Sanchez purchased his first commercial property in Midtown earlier this year, and is renovating the long-vacant property at 569 N. McLean Blvd. with the hopes of adding more neighborhood-level retail to the area.
But for many small-scale developers, it’s not always an easy process.
“I believe Memphis has great potential and I wish I could have started investing before,” Sanchez said. “But it’s hard to get financing when you don’t have a background as a developer.”
Furthermore, since the property is in a historic district, Sanchez is feeling his way around the Landmarks Commission red tape for the first time, which isn’t necessarily intuitive for neophyte developers.
Chet Jackson, the Memphis Medical District Collaborative’s real estate program manager, said that Sanchez’ issues are two of the most common ones he deals with when working with infill investors.
In an effort to provide assistance to the growing number of developers working on infill projects within its boundaries, the MMDC developed a Small Scale Development Workshop to help small developers hone their skills and get a deeper understanding of the development process.
“There’s a void in the development ecosystem with respect to developers who are interested in the small-scale and neighborhood-level developments,” Jackson said. “The intent behind this was to begin to grow that ecosystem of small-scale developers, as a direct result I have seen, over the past year, an increase of that particular segment of the development community growing.”
Jackson said the one-day workshop covers topics ranging from right-sizing projects, zoning, design, planning fundamentals, site selections and pro formas.
“A lot of time developers want to do big projects, and this is really taking a step back, taking the development process apart, and moving incrementally,” he said. “This deep-dive in the workshop begins to provide these emerging developers the toolset in order to successfully launch and sustain a project.”
Jackson said the MMDC will host its next development workshop Saturday, July 21 from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Memphis Bioworks’ 20 Dudley St. location.
In the meantime, Sanchez said he will continue to acquire and develop small-scale infill projects in the Midtown and Downtown areas.
“I have a special connection with Midtown and Downtown area,” Sanchez said. “These types of neighborhoods are perfect for new developers who don’t have experience. My goal is to build with the communities, not against the communities.”
Aside from his McLean property, Sanchez said he’s also in the process of closing on a new property in the Crosstown area.
“The market is booming with not only local investors, but out-of-town investors are targeting those areas as well,” he said. “I’ve definitely learned a lot in the past few months and I will be able to move faster on the next properties.”