For developer Brown Gill, vice president with Gill Properties, Inc., working with property owners and their neighbors is the most important part of any new real estate project. His company is currently in the process of planning a new retail and office project in East Memphis on South White Station Road, north of Poplar Avenue.
The Grove at White Station will include a one-story building on 2.66 acres with 26,700 square feet of office and retail space.
About a year and a half ago, Gill approached five property owners about purchasing their parcels that sit between an Orion Bank building and the Girl Scouts Heart of the South Council headquarters.
“First, I told them about the entire process – how I work with neighbors, how the entitlement process works, and how we find users after that,” said Gill. “Second, I told them I wanted to work with them collectively. Then nobody feels like another seller is getting a better deal. Everything is done transparently.”
The owners were not thrilled with his first offer so Gill turned his attention to the company’s $90 million TraVure mixed-use project in East Memphis near Germantown until this spring, when he went back them and struck a deal they were happier with.
He now has contracts in place on four of the five properties, of which four are already zoned for commercial development. One currently contains an insurance office, two others are being rented out for residential use, and one is being used by an artist for art restorations. The fifth and final property is zoned for residential and is being used as a home right now.
“When you think about the entire block – Poplar Avenue to Sanderlin Road and Mendenhall Road to White Station – it’s the most dynamic mixed-use block in all of East Memphis,” said Gill, who cited its two grocery stores, major movie theater, 10 to 15 restaurants, great bars, abundance of office space and residential condos. “It just needs to be more pedestrian friendly.”
MEMFix is currently working local property owners to make the area more walkable.
Designs for The Grove at White Station were created by Victor Buchholz at LRK and engineered by Michael Rogers at Fisher Arnold.
“I was out at Saddle Creek II, the latest version of Saddle Creek [in Germantown], and I just loved its great looking buildings. They’re beautiful,” said Gill. “I felt like similar architecture could work for office and retail.”
The Saddle Creek designs were done by Buchholz, so Gill contacted LRK about coming up with something for his company’s new project.
Gill submitted designs to the City of Memphis this week, and entitlement approvals could come by early next year. He hopes to line up tenants next year, and if all goes well construction could kick off in spring 2019.