Earlier this week, the large majority of retailers and restaurants were ordered to close up shop for at least two weeks. But, that hasn’t stopped Gill Properties from moving forward with its retail-focused development on White Station Road.

Gill Properties executive Brown Gill said Thursday, March 26, he believes the economy will be back to normal in late 2020, which will put him in a good position to open the 27,000-square-foot development around March 2021. The development will stretch across the five parcels between the Orion Federal Credit Union and the Girl Scouts Heart of the South headquarters on the west side of White Station Road.

“I think developers have to take a longer view. … I hope I’m right,” Gill said. “I also have tenants ready to go that I need to deliver a building to.”

Trees on the site were being knocked down on Thursday, and Gill said he was hoping to have a building permit — which had a value of $1.5 million — in hand by the end of Friday.

Gill Properties has marketed the development to retailers and office users alike. Pre-pandemic, Gill said much of the interest was from regional and national retailers. He said he has a few signed leases with companies he wouldn’t name.

Gill’s expectation is that leasing will go cold for the next 3-6 months, while the economy struggles. At some point, though, he thinks the U.S. will “flip the switch” and come back “as strong or stronger than … three weeks ago.”

“I could be wrong [about the timing] … but in the long term, I’ll have brand new space on a great site,” Gill said.

The project is being financed by Bank3, which is headquartered a block south of the project. Thoda and Associates, which is headquartered around the corner on Wheelis Drive, is the architect. Grinder, Taber & Grinder Inc., which is located in a different part of East Memphis, is the general contractor.