Monday, December 17, 2007

Beating the Drums A Little Faster at Madison and Cooper

It sure looks like they're getting ready to tear down Overton Square. Talking about the outflux of tenants from the main building, leasing agent James Raspberry says:
"It gives us more flexibility when dealing with potential developers so that we're not restricted by tenants in the building," James Rasberry, a principal with Lewis & Rasberry, a real estate firm which handles leasing and sales at Overton Square, says. "We can move pretty quickly if we have the right person wanting to buy the area and needed the additional space for their development plans."

The website of the present owner, Fisher Capital, states pretty clearly what the potential developers might be:
Overton Square is a 90,000-square-foot retail/restaurant/entertainment complex in Memphis, TN. One of the hottest spots in Memphis during the 1970s, the Square needed new ownership to recapture its former prominence. Partnering with local businessmen, Fisher Capital purchased the property, which is currently being redeveloped with a new big-box tenant.
(emphasis mine)

I don't know how current that information is, but there it is.

I'm not against a big retailer in that space. How it looks outside will be so much more important to Memphis than the business model inside. However, I should point out that big box retailers have gotten their name from the artlessness of their form. If they can transcend their naming and build something that is Midtown and urban, I'm not opposed.


the main building of Overton Square, built in the late 70s, MemphisHat tip to tnse on the Urban Planet Memphis board for pointing out the Memphis Business Journal article.

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Blogger jccvi said...

I guess a good question to ask is under what circumstances do big box retailers build attractive, site appropriate stores?

9:05 AM  
Blogger gatesofmemphis said...

Excellent question. My answer would be "when the community forces them to, or if there is prestige derived from building that way."

I would hope they would they would act on the second part.

9:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

CA article from November

Bayou Bar & Grill and Le Chardonnay, two longtime staples of Overton Square, are moving across the street to a larger space while the square's owner continues to analyze what to do with the property.

Bayou and Le Chardonnay will leave their current location in Overton Square near Palm Court in January and move across Madison to the 7,200-square-foot space formerly occupied by Square Foods.

"We've always wanted to have a bigger, better Bayou," said owner and general manager Bill Baker. "For us, it was an opportunity to get a bigger space."

Meanwhile, the square's Denver-based owner is still considering what to do with the property on the south side of Madison.

Jimmy Lewis, co-owner of Lewis & Rasberry Real Estate, which handles leasing at Overton Square, said the move will give Bayou and Le Chardonnay room to expand and free Overton Square owner Blake Fisher of some long-term leases on the south side of Madison that could hinder a possible future sale of the property.

Lewis said Palm Court, the former TGI Friday's restaurant and the space at the corner of Madison and Cooper, formerly occupied by Club Vortex and The Looney Bin, are functionally obsolete and could impede any future sale or redevelopment of the property.

"Either it has to be made efficient or something else has to be done," Lewis said. "The owner is trying to figure out the best option and that is what is being studied right now."

Last year, Earle Farrell, a local journalist and restaurateur, opened a new restaurant in the former TGI Friday's space in Overton Square, only to see it close months later. The space had been vacant since 2003, when Friday's owner, Carlson Restaurants Worldwide Inc., closed the Midtown restaurant.

The 11-acre Overton Square development contains about 80,000 square feet of retail space.

Although Friday's historically anchored the square, the retailers on the north side of Madison - Bosco's Squared, Paulette's, Malco and eventually Bayou and Le Chardonnay - now serve as anchors.

In 2005, a St. Petersburg, Fla.-based development company was under contract to purchase nine of Overton Square's 11 acres, but the sale was never finalized.



9:11 AM  
Anonymous MATAlac said...

I think beyond Target and a couple others, 'site appropriate' big boxes aren't even on the radar. I also think there is an issue of site cost and traffic, and by site cost I mean on a national scale, where Memphis is in the bargain basement.

I hemed and hawed over this for a bit and I believe that Memphis would be better served with a big box closer to downtown, somewhere between Cleveland and Thomas. The Overton Square site would really shine as a great residential over retail mixed use project.

1:29 PM  
Blogger gatesofmemphis said...

spot on, matalac! There's always the original big box -- the Sears Crosstown. Big beautiful box. Preservationists and parking devotees could lay down their arms if someone were to finally get up the imagination to pursue that.

And I think Overton Square would be an awesome mixed-use residential infill project. Great nearby neighborhoods and amenities. Plus it would provide a built-in market for the businesses of Overton Square.

12:03 AM  

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