Redesigned TraVure project back for inspection in G’town by Jane Roberts

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Germantown will get its first look Wednesday at a revised $90 million development that would bring in a five-story office building — the tallest structure in the city — plus two hotels and a bevy of retail.

The suburb's Smart Code Review Commission will walk through changes to the TraVure project, planned for the southeast quadrant of Kirby and Poplar, in a public meeting at 5:45 p.m. at 1920 Germantown Road.

"We do see the major strides taken by the development team to address the concerns of the planning commission and to mitigate the concerns of residents," said Cameron Ross, economic and community development director.

While neighbors still have unresolved issues with the 10-acre, dense development, Ross expects the planning commission will vote on Phases 1, 2 and 3 on Nov. 3. If approved, construction of the road into the development and other infrastructure elements would begin immediately.

In late August, developers Ray Gill and Desai Hotel Group asked for time to redesign the project, largely because it would have required 12 code variations. Planning commission members said that was unprecedented in Germantown and warned that rejection would mean a six-month wait before the plans could be resubmitted. The developer withdrew them.

The plan the public will see Wednesday calls for one departure from code for the hotel complex, a four-story building at the center of the project that will house a Hilton Garden Inn and Home 2 Suites.


In 2013, Germantown worked with property owners in the "western gateway" — the 56 acres along Poplar that form the suburb's main entry from Memphis — to shape what growth in that small area might look like. Developers who adhere to the rules, for instance, can build five stories up instead of the two permitted in the current zoning. They may also build denser developments.

In this case, nearly all of the 10 acres will be developed. Under the old rules, only 30 percent could have been developed.

TraVure in French means a "portable bridge for crossing gaps."

"We chose it for several reasons, but the primary reason is TraVure connects the older, conventional Germantown with the developing, urban Germantown of the future," Gill said.

For the landlocked city to grow, it has to capitalize limited open space, growing up and in much denser tracts than typical suburban growth. For developers, the challenge is creating dense growth that is palatable to neighbors and still within the confines of the code which, for instance, requires buildings to abut streets.

The largest problem with TraVure initially was light from the parking garage, which is to be situated to the west of the Nottoway subdivision. Neighbors complained that light from headlights and the structure would be streaming into their bedrooms at all hours of the night.

The developers restructured garage walls so headlights on even the highest vehicle will be behind cover. It has also decreased the height of horizontal openings and tucked the building's light fixtures behind structural elements.

They have also added 25 feet of landscaping, including a meditation garden, along the border. Now, a total of 50 feet of green space and a new fence will separate Nottoway from TraVure.

Residents and elected officials were both concerned that a separation wall on the Poplar side, originally to be built in phases, could present problems. The plan now includes it in the first phase.

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