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  • Sprawling $200 million development to bring town square atmosphere to Southaven

    A massive 228-acre, mixed-use development will bring a town square comparable to Collierville and Oxford, Miss., to Southaven. Silo Square, on farmland between Getwell and Tchulahoma roads south of Goodman, calls for a mixture of residential, commercial and public uses built around a central Main Street boulevard lined with two- and three-story buildings. "The square we're going to build will very much resemble an old town square, like the Collierville square or the Oxford square," Brian Hill of Lifestyle Communities LLC of Hernando told Southaven aldermen earlier this week.  A silo currently standing on the property, across Getwell from Snowden Grove Park, will be retained and serve as a signature feature of the development. Hill said plans also call for construction of a barn on a portion of the property that will house a farmer's market. Hill hopes to start work soon on the roughly $200 million project, and some aspects could be completed by year's end. Aldermen unanimously approved the development, which also had the support of the city's Planning Commission. Mayor Darren Musselwhite and aldermen used words like "pumped" and "excited" to express their support before voting on the development, which drew no negative comments from the public.  Planning Director Whitney Choat described a project that would bring rooftop restaurants, community spaces and a variety of housing sizes and types to a growing area of the city. "There's a lot of energy around this part of Southaven," Hill said. The breakdown in the plan submitted by developers calls for about 64 acres of common space consisting of wooded areas, lakes, trail systems and parks. "This significant amount of green space represents nearly 28% of the gross property acreage, and will contribute immensely to the character and identity of the neighborhood," the plan states. Another 120 acres will be devoted to residential development designed to appeal to a range of ages and family sizes. The single-family residential area will include lots of 6,000 to 15,000 square feet. Another 128 loft units will provide a "highly desired" residential option not currently available in the market, according to the plan.  The 45-acre mixed use development making up the town square area is described as the signature piece of the project. Trees and multi-story buildings will form a square around a central space that will have a clock or bell tower in the middle. "The ground floor of the multi-story buildings will be occupied by retail, restaurant and offices users, and residential lofts with balconies overlooking the street will fill the majority of the upper floors," the plan states. "Crosswalks, lush landscaping, classic building architecture, courtyards, plazas and outdoor dining areas will bring life and activity to the streetscape on the main street boulevard and set the tone for the rest of the development." Hotels, office buildings, the farmer's market and possibly a grocery store will round out the project.  Access to the development will come from both the Getwell and Tchulahoma sides, and music from concerts at BankPlus Amphitheater at Snowden Grove will waft across Getwell to rooftop restaurant patrons. "What I love is the history of this farm," Hill said, "and what we'll be able to preserve."

  • Gibson Guitar building sold

    Gibson Brands Inc. has sold its iconic factory building Downtown. Real estate investment firms Somera Road Inc. of New York and Tricera Capital of Miami teamed up to purchase the property, according to a Tuesday news release. The release did not disclose a purchase price but said the transaction includes much of Gibson's real estate in Memphis and Nashville. In a separate transaction, the firms paid $6.4 million for a half-acre property at 1102 Grundy St. in Nashville in November. The Memphis part of the purchase includes the 150,000-square-foot Gibson factory and showroom and the 350-space parking lot located across Linden Avenue on Pontotoc Avenue. The sale is expected to close on Dec. 13 “We’re especially interested in markets with a growing and buzzing millennial population, and we continue to invest in those urban cores,” said Tricera co-founder Scott Sherman in the release. “Memphis checked all of the boxes we look for in new markets. With the continuously growing Downtown population, we are eager to use this transaction to open the door to additional opportunities. "While other ‘millennial’ markets such as Nashville and Austin are experiencing saturation and pricing out many potential relocators, Memphis is owning its sweet spot with real estate occupancy costs and the costs of living at attractive rates.” Before the deal closes, the Center City Revenue Finance Corporation (CCRFC) is set to decide Dec.12 whether or not Gibson's 25-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) agreement, effective through 2023, can be transferred to the investors. Along with the transfer, the investors are asking for the PILOT's employment requirement to be eliminated, according to a letter written by Bass, Berry & Sims lawyer Richard Spore III, who is representing the investors. The investors are also requesting for permission to use the property for retail and offices, as well as for a potential brewery, according to that letter. Initially, Gibson will lease back the building from Tricera and Somera, while the investors decide what to do with the property. “Scott and I were aware of Memphis, but until we visited, we had no idea how unique this market is,” said Somera managing principal Ian Ross in the release. “The Gibson building is a prime location in the heart of Downtown Memphis, and it’s uniquely positioned at the epicenter of growth. We can’t wait to roll up our sleeves and get to work.” The companies have hired Colliers International for property management and leasing services. Andy Cates and Andrew Phillips will be the local leasing representatives.

  • Breaking: Memphis College of Art announces plans to close

    Memphis College of Art (MCA) is no longer admitting new students and will close at the conclusion of fulfilling its obligation to existing students who remain in good standing, the college announced on Tuesday. The college anticipates the wind-down will last through 2020. Citing declining enrollment, "overwhelming real estate debt," and "no viable long-term plan for financial sustainability" the Board of Directors of Memphis College of Art voted to immediately stop recruiting new students and to make plans to close the college. “It is with great sadness that we move forward with this decision,” MCA board chair Henry P. Doggrell said. According to the college's news release, MCA will begin the "orderly dissolution" of its real estate and other assets to fund its debt obligations and other liabilities, including providing funding to serve existing students who remain at MCA. MCA said the board, after a long process, determined that "an independent, private fine arts and design college is no longer financially sustainable in Memphis." Over the last few months, the school's leaders have cost cuts, but it was not sufficient to sustain operations beyond the current academic year without continued significant community support. Through the wind-down, MCA will continue to offer Community Education programs, including its new Fashion Certificate program, summer camps, and adult art classes. MCA’s Holiday Bazaar will also take place as scheduled on November 17-18, with proceeds funding existing student scholarships. “This has been a heartbreaking process,” said MCA interim president Laura Hine. “But, we remain proud of the creative energy MCA artists have long brought to Memphis and are eternally grateful to the donors and foundations who have sustained us throughout our 81-year history. The tremendous value of the artistic contributions made by MCA faculty, students and graduates, over many decades, simply can’t be captured in words.”

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