The Grove at White Station: New mixed-use development planned by Tom Bailey

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Plans for a new East Memphis office-and-retail development -- The Grove at White Station -- will be submitted Monday to the Office of Planning & Development, the developer said.

Gill Properties plans to erect the nearly 27,000-square-foot, one-story development on 2.66 acres now encompassing five properties from 701 to 657 S. White Station.

The chance to be part of an enhanced larger, commercial district -- anchored by Clark Tower and bordered by Poplar, Mendenhall, Sanderlin and White Station -- motivated Gill Properties to pursue the development, vice president Brown Gill said.

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"It really is one of the most absolutely dynamic blocks,'' Gill said. "I"m hopefully adding a little more office and retail to this block, and we're getting rid of the last single-family house on this block.''

A MemFix plan to establish better, more appealing pedestrian connections within the district got Gill's attention. The district includes Whole Foods and Kroger groceries, the Malco Paradiso movie theater and other restaurants and shopping centers.

"It was not until I saw the pedestrian plan that I saw how dynamic this area is,'' Gill said. "I saw a potential office and retail site.''

Gill Properties has had the five parcels under contract to buy since June 1, and plans to submit its application to modify existing planned development to the Land Use Control Board.

Those originally were houses on the west side of White Station, between Orion Federal Credit Union and an office development that includes the Girl Scouts and the Williams McDaniel law office.

Four of the five houses are already being used commercially:  Two are residential rentals, one is an insurance office, one is an art gallery and one remains an owner-occupied residence.

LRK Architects designed The Grove at White Station. Gill said an inspiration for the building's design will be Germantown's Saddle Creek South shopping center, which he admires.

Gill said he's still working on where to put the curb cuts, but the building will be set back from the street in part to save the existing big oaks.

He first approached the five property owners -- collectively -- 1.5 years ago. Negotiating with them as a group is better because "nobody feels like the other person is getting a better deal,'' Gill said.

The group did not like his first offer and "kicked me out,'' so he focused for a year on Gill Property's developing 58-acre TraVure mixed-use project in Germantown. He eventually returned to the property owners and made an offer they accepted.

Over the past month, Gill said he's been meeting with surrounding property owners to inform them and try to allay concerns. All property owners to the west along Brookhaven Circle seem supportive, Gill said, in part because all those properties have already converted from residential to commercial uses.

The property owners to the east, across White Station, are "super important,'' Gill said, adding, "There are concerns.'' He has been addressing their issues about the effect on property values, light spill-over, increased crime and more traffic.

Gill said the Grove will be of a quality that increases surrounding property values. His firm has learned much about controlling lighting in the TraVure development, and will apply those lessons at The Grove. The center will use the security company Security One.

With so many restaurants, groceries, offices and other activities in the area, "if it was planned better for the cars and the pedestrians, I think it's truly one of the most dynamic blocks in all of East Memphis,'' Gill said.

"There are no other blocks in East Memphis that has that many uses on it that are walkable.''

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