Hu. Hotel in Downtown Memphis set to reopen with two dining options

Hu. Hotel will reopen on Aug. 12. The Downtown Memphis boutique hotel has been closed since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the area in March 2020. While the hotel’s flagship restaurant Hu. Diner is not scheduled to reopen yet, the hotel will reopen with two dining options.

Lucy’s Cafe will be adjacent to the lobby and will offer specialty coffees and updated takes on a number of cocktail classics, as well as baked goods, small bites, and sweet and savory treats. According to a news release, Lucy’s offers “nostalgic food and drinks that are driven with Memphis soul, all while highlighting local ingredients made with Southern flavors and techniques.” It is being touted as “a cozy and cool place to meet, talk or work for a while, Lucy’s welcomes guests of the hotel, neighbors, locals and those just passing by to pop in and stay for a while.”

Hu. Hotel’s rooftop bar has received a makeover as well.

SCS celebrates opening of new Medical District High School

Bundles of red, white and blue balloons adorned the entrance to the new Medical District High School, where dozens gathered Thursday, Aug. 5, to celebrate its opening.

The school will welcome its first cohort of ninth-graders Monday, Aug. 9, when the Shelby County Schools district begins its year.

About 85 students are set to join that cohort Monday, and a few more are in the application process. The school had a goal of 80 to 100 students, according to district spokeswoman Jerica Phillips.

Memphis hotel projects poised to tap into pent-up travel demand

Chuck Pinkowski, owner of hotel consulting firm Pinkowski and Co., keeps track of local projects coming online or in the works in the metro area’s hotel pipeline. According to his list, as of April 2021, there are 47 properties — consisting of more than 6,200 rooms — in the Memphis hotel market pipeline through 2025.

In terms of areas, Downtown Memphis is listed as having the most proposed hotel projects, with 14 properties and 2,688 rooms.

$30 million fund help minority developers launch projects in the Medical District

The Memphis Medical District Collaborative and Pathway Lending on Monday announced the creation of the Medical District Investment Fund, a $30 million capital fund to help finance development of residential and mixed-use projects in the district.

MMDC director of real estate Ben Schulman said the fund will go beyond simply encouraging new development. It will be strategically utilized to encourage development by minority- and women-owned businesses, create a diversity of housing and transform the micro-economy of the diverse neighborhood.

Tom Lee Park Renovation Begins

The $60-million renovation of Memphis’ signature downtown park got two critical green lights: one from Mayor Strickland’s Riverfront Steering Committee, the other from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Tom Lee Park sits on a 30-acre berm that helps stabilize the bluff along the Mississippi River at Memphis. Structural changes must be approved by the Corps of Engineers. Tuesday, July 20, 2021, the Corps issued the 408 permit needed to make so many of the wonderful features seen in renderings possible.

The Mayor’s Riverfront Steering Committee also approved the design and the Strickland administration made an important decision.

Minority-led group proposes $50M hotel and high-end condo project in Pinch District

A minority-led group has plans for a roughly $50 million mixed-use development in the Pinch District. Members of Blues Note LLC told MBJ that the group intends to develop the Blues Note Hotel — a 100-room property — at 463 N. Front St., as well as a 40-unit high-rise condominium.

The North Front Street property is situated within walking distance of the Pyramid. MBJ reported on May 11, that Ashaif Enterprises purchased the property at 463 N. Front St. for $715,000, according to a transaction filed with the Shelby County Register of Deeds.

The Blues Note Hotel, aimed at being an independently owned and operated entertainment and destination property, proposes an array of amenities, including:

  • 100 guest rooms
  • 40 condos with floor-to-ceiling glass and patios
  • Retail and office space
  • Steakhouse restaurant
  • Coffee shop
  • Lobby bar and live music stage
  • Conference and meeting space, with a ballroom
  • Custom soundproof music studio
  • Spa and salon
  • Workout facility
  • Rooftop guitar shape hotel pool with stage and lounge
  • Private condo pool with lounge
  • Custom trolley station
  • Parking garage with valet

Bill McCrary, principal developer and project manager for Blues Note, didn’t give a timeline on when he expected construction to begin or when it would be completed.

While due diligence has been done, Blues Note is still in discussion with city planning department officials on details such as as building layout, McCrary said.

He indicated that, once completed, the Blues Note Hotel would have about 100 employees.

“We are going to have [an] above-average pay rate or way above the pay rate of what hotels are normally paying employees,” he said.

McCrary said the Memphis project would be the first of what they envision as a similar concept coming to other cities.

“What better place to kick off a hotel, condos, and mixed-use [brand] called Blues Note [than] in Memphis? And the beginning of a national franchise; we are in talks with cities like New Orleans, Miami, and Detroit for a Blues Note,” he said.

With the condos, Reginald Fentress, Blues Note’s development coordinator, said the City of Memphis will also benefit.

“They are going to generate revenue to the city tax base every year, which is a win to the city,” Fentress said.

According to McCrary, the $50 million price tag on the project could increase, based on a high level of infrastructure for the building. The group is working with local, state, and federal officials to build above the existing Trolley track,” McCrary said.

Final slab of Hernando DeSoto Bridge in place – Reopening Date TBD

After a Monday morning media tour of the work, Tennessee Department of Transportation officials said they still don’t have a target date at the seven-week mark of closure for reopening the bridge, which is a vital section of Interstate 40.

“The post-tensioning process is securing the load right now,” said Brandon Akins, TDOT operations engineer, as he pointed to an exposed rod near the damaged section of the bridge structure where the gash in the steel has now been cut away.

Wiseacre Brewing Company celebrates its newest location

Wiseacre Brewing Company officially cut the ribbon Thursday on its newest location. Wiseacre 2 is on the corner of B. B. King and Butler Avenue in downtown Memphis. Technically it opened last year, but the brewery couldn’t celebrate at the time because of COVID-19.

“We had to cancel two ribbon cuttings last year. But this building, we were waiting to build this for five years. We’ve been open for eight years, but it’s really been our dream for about twenty years to have a brewery like this. From the time my brother and I shook hands and said let’s start a brewery, we wanted to do this. Wanted to build something great that can represent Memphis far and wide,” said Wiseacre Brewing Company CEO Kellan Bartosch.