The new White Oak at White Station commercial center rose last year in East Memphis as both the pandemic and e-commerce soared like humidity levels in a Memphis August.
Yet, 96% of its 27,000 square feet is already leased.
This brick-and-mortar center may live up to the qualities of its namesake hardwood — durable and damage-resistant — despite the digital age.
The Gill Properties development at 681 S. White Station Road also may represent a successful way forward for strip commercial centers. Its first tenants are service-oriented, even the ones selling products.
“You can’t buy online what they are offering,” Patty Bullock said. She’s senior vice president with Gill Properties and is in charge of leasing White Oak.
White Oak’s initial tenants are: Women’s Physician Group; The Lash Lounge; Artisan Nails; Taylor Hearing Centers; Rotolo’s pizzeria; and IVX Health, which provides infusions and injections for patients with complex, chronic conditions. Also, a lease with Basecamp Fitness appears imminent, Bullock said on Friday, Aug. 20.
Taylor Hearing is the first to finish its interior build-out, move in and open.
But Bullock credits the Women’s Physician Group, an obstetrics and gynecology practice, for not only jump-starting the lease-up of White Oak, but also for giving the center a theme.
“I tell people it’s very female-centered,” Bullock said of White Oak and its tenants that include the OB-GYN practice, a provider of eyelash extensions, nail salon and fitness studio.
White Oak comprises two, one-story buildings. Women’s Physician Group is leasing the entire building on the south side, about 10,300 square feet.
The medical practice is led by six female physicians and two nurse practitioners, and plans to add two more physicians when the practice moves into White Oak in January.
Women’s Physician Group now operates at two locations, one in Midtown and one in Germantown. It will close those sites and consolidate in the middle, at White Oak, Bullock said.
The physician leading the move to White Oak is Dr. Lanetta Anderson. “She’s amazing,” Bullock said. “Her word is her bond. She follows through and does everything beautifully. She met me at the building, and they took the whole building.”
The practice’s physicians have been talking about making a move for 10 years, but finding 10,000 square feet inside of Memphis is a challenge, Anderson told The Daily Memphian.
The turning point came when she saw Bullock’s name posted at another Gill property and called her.
“Just being inside the 240 loop was very important for me,” Anderson said. “I have patients from Whitehaven, from Mississippi, from Arkansas. They all deliver out East but they live elsewhere. And we wanted to be accessible for any patient population.”
She described the White Oak center as “the most peaceful spot to have a business in this busiest part of Memphis.”
The new center is less than a quarter-mile north of Poplar, and stands on 2.7 acres where single-family homes were demolished.
The landmark Clark Tower hovers a few blocks west of the center. But White Oak faces homes and mature trees directly across White Station. “It doesn’t feel busy,” Anderson said.
The Lash Lounge will open in early October, franchise owner Dallas Embry said.
“I wanted to have a good, neutral spot to pull from different neighborhoods,” Embry said. “This is on the cusp of Cordova and Germantown, but you can still pull Midtown and East Memphis, and it’s within a 10- to 15-minute radius for everybody.”
The White Oak center, designed by Thoda & Associates and built by Grinder Taber Grinder, “is beautiful,” Embry said.
Ray Gill said he’s not surprised that White Oak is nearly 100% leased, despite the pandemic and the big momentum of e-commerce.
“I expected this site to be a winner,” he said. “… We didn’t sign any leases in all of 2020, but I said, ‘Don’t worry about it. We’ll be fine.’”
Gill based his confidence on the prime location.
“You can’t beat Poplar Avenue between… Perkins and Germantown Road,” he said. “Inside this (240) loop, there’s an energy, a reason to be there. That diminishes the farther you go from this corridor.”
Plus, by starting construction in early 2020, Gill saved 25% to 30% in construction costs that skyrocketed soon after.
“When the herd goes one way, you go the other,” Gill said. “The conventional isn’t always great. We’re thrilled to be where we are.”