Skip to Main Content

 View All News

'Boutique market' planned for Emerge Building and WLOK Building Upgrades - CCDC to Review

Courtesy of the Commercial Appeal.

A new "boutique market store" is planned for the Emerge Building in the South Main Arts District.

The 2,000 square-foot shop "will house food, groceries, drinks, and coffee," according to a grant application submitted to a Downtown Memphis Commission board.

The applicants, Nick Barbian and Ryan Morris of UrbanARCH Associates, are seeking a $60,000 grant from the Center City Development Corporation to help fund exterior improvements to the building at 516 Tennessee St. The total cost of the exterior renovations is estimated to be about $122,000.

The improvements include "construction of a new concrete patio, stair and main entrance to the building, new double door storefront, handrails, and exterior signage," according to the application. "Existing conditions will require some rework of the existing sidewalk, signs, and building exhaust."

Big River Market will be housed inside the Emerge Building, a business incubator that offers rental spaces ranging from 150- to 5,000-square-feet.

A separate grocery store planned for the area was announced by a separate development team Tuesday.

WLOK building upgrades

The WLOK radio building at 363 Second St. could also get some exterior upgrades

WLOK submitted a grant application to the CCDC seeking $50,000 to repaint the door and window frames, tint the windows, add exterior landscaping, update the lighting in the WLOK sign and other changes to make the building look more attractive.

Renderings show a blue and yellow paint scheme.

Total project cost is estimated to be about $65,000.

WLOK became the first Black-owned radio station in Memphis when it was bought by Gillam Communications in 1977 and has been designated a Tennessee Historical Landmark by the state historical commission.

The CCDC will consider both grant applications during a virtual meeting on April 21.

Corinne Kennedy covers economic development, soccer and COVID-19's impact on hospitals for the Commercial Appeal. She can be reached via email at or at 901-297-3245.