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VOL. 133 | NO. 63 | Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Massive Mixed-Use Project Slated for Broad Avenue

By Patrick Lantrip

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Since the parcel is currently zoned industrial, 3D Realty will be seeking a variance from the Board of Adjustment at its April 25 meeting. (Daily News/Houston Cofield)

In many ways the Broad Avenue water tower has become the defining emblem of the iconic arts district, but the empty warehouse it sits on stands in stark contrast from the vibrant shops, restaurants and art galleries that line the more developed south side of the street.

That could all soon change as James Maclin, a former MAA executive and local multifamily expert, and Bob Loeb, owner of Loeb Properties Inc., have teamed up to bring what many people feel is the area’s last missing piece.

“When I look at that area now, you have great businesses and restaurants that are already there, but after 9 p.m., there’s limited activity and foot traffic, because no one lives there on a large scale,” Maclin said. “Multifamily brings that last piece that can really take Broad Avenue to the next level.”

Maclin and Loeb are hoping to parlay their respective areas of expertise – multifamily and retail – into a massive mixed-use project on the 8.5-acre parcel where the water tower is attached to a 222,000-square-foot vacant WWII-era warehouse.

James Maclin

 Bob Loeb

“We think that there are a lot of good things that are about to happen in Memphis, and we just want to be a part of that,” Maclin said. “Hopefully we can add something positive that will expedite that situation.”

Since the parcel is currently zoned industrial, Loeb and Maclin’s new business venture, 3D Realty, of which Maclin has the controlling interest, will be seeking a variance from the Board of Adjustment at its April 25 meeting.

“Right now, the base of the Broad Avenue water tower is not really activated because it is covered up by the warehouse,” Maclin said. “With our plan, we’re hoping to open that up and the entire tower will be highly visible from the base to the top. We’re going to work with the community on a number of fronts, including how we can activate the base of the tower.”

According to the plans, the yet-to-be-named project will feature roughly 400 apartment units and around 10,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space.

“(Loeb) was looking for a developer to possibly develop one parcel of land that he owns on Broad,” Maclin said. “So we started talking and realized that a lot of our interests are aligned relative to, quite frankly, loving Memphis, which is the basis for why we get along so well.”

Maclin said that given the nature of their areas of expertise, the ensuing business venture made perfect sense.

“We spoke to possible partners from Memphis and Nashville, but James stood out with his proven track record of successful multifamily projects, passion for Memphis and engagement in the local community,” Ciara Neill, director of marketing for Loeb Properties said of the partnership.

Maclin said this is only the first of many projects in the pipeline for 3D Realty.

According to the plans, the yet-to-be-named project will feature roughly 400 apartment units and around 10,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space. (archimania)

“Broad is a good place to start because we have control of the land,” Maclin said. “We wanted to do some nice things for not only Memphis, but Binghampton and Broad Avenue as well.”

Neill said that she believes this project is a significant investment that will have a rising tides effect on development in the area.

“We've been in communication with the neighborhood with the surrounding property for several months and are working on the best ways to make this a win-win for everyone,” she said.

Lea Heilig, a multifamily housing specialist with Woodyard Realty, said that a project such as this is appealing in Midtown, because the supply side of apartment living in the area has not kept up with the demand for upscale 21st century living in the form of convenient amenities and modern interior finishes.

“Midtown's rental housing stock is an eclectic mix of 1900-1920 turn-of-the-century buildings and 1950/60s vintage properties where occupancy levels have consistently stayed at 95 percent or higher,” Heilig said. “With exception of the 204-unit Bristol on Union, built in early 2000s, and more recently the Parcels at Crosstown Concourse there have been no new deliveries in the Midtown submarket in well over 20 years.”

She said that an influx of high paying jobs, high occupancy among existing housing stock, growing demand for luxury living in urban settings and limited Class A competition has made Midtown a prime area for multifamily development –  a developer’s paradise if you will.

“Some industry players, however, contend that it took the recently expanded EDGE residential PILOT program to greenlight dormant multifamily starts from a ROI (return on investment) perspective,” she said. “Regardless, Midtown developers are taking their feasibility studies to the banks and we should see Midtown's apartment landscape transformed over the next 2-3 years.”

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