Curbed — “Memphis Downtown Boom Fueled by Riverfront City’s Rich History”

September 25, 2018

“As Southern cities like Charlotte, Austin, and Nashville continue their record-setting pace of development and expansion, many have overlooked the building boom taking place in Memphis, Tennessee.

Best known for its rich music history and its pivotal role in the civil rights movement, the riverfront city has seen a real estate rebirth. More than $13 billion in revitalization projectshas reshaped Memphis’s downtown over the past four years, and, according to Cushman & Wakefield/Commercial Advisors, tourism grew 13 percent between 2012 and 2017. The city’s Main Street trolley line relaunched in April.

Earlier this summer, New York-based real estate firm Townhouse Management announced plans to rehabilitate an abandoned 37-story high-rise, 100 North Main, as part of a deal that would bring 500 luxury residential units, a new Loews Hotel, and roughly $1 billion of commercial and residential development to a sleepy stretch of downtown. Along with the $225 million One Beale project, a multi-use hotel, retail, and office project on the riverfront, it promises to reshape downtown.

‘It’s a great city, and it’s underinvested,’ says Arlene Maidman, executive co-chair of Townhouse. ‘This project can help revitalize an entire downtown.’ ...

Memphis has also committed to reclaiming its working riverfront for residents, historically an industrial area lined with warehouses. The city recently allocated $10 million for the first phase of an expected $75 million waterfront development set to create a connective network of parks and public green space. A Studio Gang-designed park project, covering six miles of waterfront that will connect to Beale Street downtown, will begin work next year with a redevelopment of Tom Lee Park, the first phase of a more extensive Memphis Riverfront Concept being pursued by the Memphis River Parks Partnership.

Set up like a series of rooms offering different entertainment and recreation offerings, the park project is ‘emblematic of where Memphis is heading right now,’ says Gia Biagi, Studio Gang’s head of urbanism and civic impact.

‘We worked really hard to position the riverfront as part of the whole city, great for people who live close to it and those who live very far away,’ says Biagi. ‘The idea is to create a holistic civic asset.’”

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