As the pandemic begins to wane and people look toward the return of normal life and an economic rebound, some long-vacant properties in Downtown Memphis could see action for the first time in a long time.
Over the past year, work has stalled on some projects around the city while others, like the redevelopment of the Joseph Oliver Building on Front Street, have plowed ahead.
Some of the buildings below were previously identified by the Downtown Memphis Commission as “game changers” — buildings whose redevelopment could make a big impact on the future of Downtown as a whole.
Here’s the current status of some of those properties.
107 S. Main St.
Preliminary internal cleanout and selective internal demolition have begun inside the building and crews could break ground at the site within the next 30 to 45 days, said Brett Roler, DMC vice president of development.
Architectural drawings are complete. The project is in permit review with Shelby County, Roler said Wednesday.
New York developer Tom Intrator previously said he wanted to turn the 30,000-square-foot building into ground-floor retail with office space on the upper floors. He received a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes incentive in 2019 to redevelop the 107 S. Main St. building, along with several other Downtown properties he owns.
The total project cost, when Intrator first brought the project to the DMC, was estimated at about $7 million. The developer received a 15-year PILOT incentive to help fund the project.
18 S. Main St.
Also owned by Intrator, the 23,500-square-foot property at 18 S. Main is another that could see some action soon.
Roler said the architect for the project, Designshop, was working on final construction documents for the refurbishment of the building.
Intrator received a $200,000 grant and a 13.5-year PILOT incentive from the Downtown Memphis Commission to help pay for the renovation of the vacant building into a mixed-use building with ground-floor and basement commercial space and office space on the upper floors.
The overhaul is expected to be a total investment of about $4.7 million.
Joseph Oliver Building
The $23.3 million redevelopment of two connected buildings at 99 and 105 Front St. remains ongoing and could be finished by the end of 2021 or early 2022, Roler said.
A former cold storage warehouse, developer Billy Orgel is turning the site into an apartment building with more than 100 apartments and an underground parking garage.
The long-deserted, 162,000-plus square-foot facility was falling apart when Orgel bought it, and the previous owner had considered tearing it down. There were localized areas of collapse inside, the roof was leaking and bricks were falling off the exterior, necessitating the scaffolding that remains around the site.
Since then, the building structure has been stabilized and blight remediation work has finished. Construction crews at the site are actively working on the internal framing of the building.
Orgel received a $650,406 grant and a 20-year PILOT incentive to help fund the restoration.
Prior to the pandemic, owner Amit Patel had signaled his interest in converting the 10-story office building at 46 N. B.B. King Blvd. into a hotel. Roler said some internal demolition had been done and lead paint and asbestos had been removed from the site, but COVID-19 stopped work on the building.
Built in 1925 for the Dave Dermon Co., the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984 and has been vacant for about a decade. The lower floors of the building remain boarded up, and some of the upper-floor windows are broken.
However, the building is in a good location near other properties that have been redeveloped for hospitality uses, Roler said. Hotel Indigo sits on the other side of Court Avenue.
“It’s in that emerging corridor where you have some nice boutique hotels,” he said.
Just south of the Dermon Building, the Sterick Building at 8 N. Third St. has been the subject of many development rumors over the years, but as of now, property owners have not put forward any plans for redevelopment.
Roler said the DMC’s anti-blight lawyers were actively working with the building owners and tenants on possible ways forward for one of Downtown’s most iconic buildings, which has been vacant since the 1980s.
He said he was bullish there could be a future for the property, but it depended on how it is marketed to potential future developers.
The 351,000-square-foot building’s distinctive architecture makes it one of the most recognizable buildings in Memphis, something Roler said would be an advantage in marketing it.
“Different is a competitive advantage. We don't look like ‘anyplace USA,’” he said. “We don’t look like Toledo or Nashville. We don’t look like Chicago.”
100 North Main St.
The long-vacant Downtown skyscraper could be getting a new life soon. A Downtown Memphis Commission body will likely soon own Memphis’ tallest building and be marketing it to local and national developers trying to entice someone to redevelop a whole city block in the heart of Downtown.
The Downtown Mobility Authority will buy the property bounded by Adams Avenue, Second Street, Jefferson Avenue and Main Street. It includes a four-story garage, a surface parking lot and a small dog park, in addition to the 37-story tower.
The DMA will own the property and will put out a request for proposals. Ultimately, the ownership of the building will be transferred to a developer — if someone chooses to redevelop the site — but the DMA will retain ownership of any future parking developed on the site.
147 Jefferson Ave.
The Jefferson Plaza building sold to a Texas-based company for $2.8 million in March. City Center Services Inc. sold the building to Houston company Trident Capital of America LLC.
The more than 100,000-square-foot building at the corner of Jefferson and Second Street was built in the 1950s and has been vacant for more than a decade. There were plans to redevelop the property in 2012 and an adjacent parking garage was demolished. However, the redevelopment plans later stalled.
Trident has not indicated any future plans for the site since the purchase went through.
Nylon Net building
Demolition of the long-vacant building at 7 Vance began in March. However, the development and architectural team have some more work to do before construction can begin.
At a meeting on Wednesday, members of the Design Review Board said they were unimpressed with the exterior design of the building, saying it would fit in in Cordova, but not in Downtown Memphis. The board decided to table the application and asked the architect to make some changes to the building design.
Co-developers Chance Carlisle and James Maclin are looking to rebuild on the site, paying homage to the former building on the outside, including the smokestack, and creating luxury apartments inside. They plan to use some brick reclaimed from the old site in the exterior of the new building.
Current plans call for more than 200 apartment units, about 10,000 square feet of ground-floor retail and a 246-space parking garage below the apartments. Construction will begin by the summer and is expected to last 22 to 25 months, developers have said.
The total project cost is expected to be about $52 million.
Corinne S Kennedy covers economic development, soccer and COVID-19’s impact on hospitals for the Commercial Appeal. She can be reached via email at Corinne.Kennedy@CommercialAppeal.com or at 901-297-3245.