VOL. 133 | NO. 99 | Thursday, May 17, 2018
Grant Awarded For Auto Museum
By Patrick Lantrip
A facade improvement grant for a new automotive museum near Sun Studio was approved by the Downtown Memphis Commission’s Center City Development Corp. on Wednesday, May 16, clearing the way for Richard Vining’s $1.4 million renovation project at 645 Marshall Ave. to begin.
The nonprofit project, known as the Edge Motor Museum, was deemed a natural fit by DMC staff citing the Edge neighborhood’s automotive history that once earned it the nickname “Auto Row.”
“What makes this idea really work for us is its proximity to Sun Studio,” Vining said. “There are people walking around looking for things to do, and all these folks are already interest in 1950s and 1960s culture, and that’s who we’re interested in bringing to this building.”
An artist’s rendering of the Edge Motor Museum. Developer Richard Vining received an exterior improvement grant for the $1.4 million project near Sun Studio. The museum will harken back to the area’s history as “Auto Row.” (designshop)
Vining, doing business as 645 Marshall Ave LLC, was awarded up $60,000 in exterior improvement grant funds to help with the restoration of the 1920s-era façade, which is estimated to cost $132,000.
“When the building was originally built, they built the cars in the back and showed them off up front, so we’re kind of bringing this building’s history back,” Vining said.
In addition to providing educational material for museum patrons, Vining has secured an initial offering of vehicles on loan to the museum valued at just under $1 million, including a restored 1959 Cadillac.
“The (operating) budget for the museum is $237,000 for the first year and we have a $250,000 grant, so we’re going to be OK the first year,” Vining said. “But there are 150,000 people a year that go to Sun Studio. If we can capture 2.5 percent at $10 a ticket, this is budget-neutral.”
Vining, who owns Vining Legacy Management, a bill-pay service specializing in assisting seniors and widows, tapped Montgomery Martin Contractors to oversee construction of the museum, but the facade work will be subcontracted through C Foster Construction, a certified minority business enterprise.
“We’re still finalizing the details, but it’s highly likely that most of this budget will go to women and minority-owned business,” DMC vice president of planning and development Brett Roler said. “So we’re going to go far in excess of 20 percent (MWBE participation) for this project, and that’s in large part to the effort and due diligence of the applicant and Jay Goff in our office.”
Once construction begins, the entire project is scheduled to take approximately four months.
Under a previous owner, the CCDC approved two other incentives for this property in 2010 – a $40,000 retail forgivable loan and a $17,000 storefront grant.
“Our goal is not to come back to the same property multiple times,” Roler said. “But one of the many reasons we are very supportive of this project is our ongoing and past focus on the Edge neighborhood. The Edge is an important Downtown neighborhood and it’s one of our areas of focus right now.”
The Edge District lies between the Memphis Medical District and Downtown.
Roler said the DMC and its affiliate boards have had a long track record of supporting projects in the area, ranging from small, commercial infill projects like The Marshall, Edge Alley and Arnolds BBQ to larger catalytic investments like Orion Federal Credit Union’s new headquarters and 400-plus unit Bakery Apartments project.