February 29, 2016

Cousins Joins in Collierville Mall Venture

By Jane Aldinger
– The Memphis Business Journal –

Montgomery, Alabama based Jim Wilson and Associates Inc., and Atlanta based Cousins Properties, Inc. have joined as equal partners in the long awaited $100 million Collierville retail project, now called The Avenue at Carriage Crossing.

The developers are negotiating contracts with several new retail tenants to occupy space in the mall, including fashion retailer Parisian, a newcomer to the Memphis market. Dillard’s and Parisian have been named as the department store anchors. Other tenants include Barns & Noble, Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle Outfitters, Ann Taylor Loft, Banana Republic, Bath & Body Works, The Buckle, Cache, Express, Gap, GapKids, BabyGap, Gould’s Spa & Salon, Hollisters, Limited Too, Linens ‘N Things, Reed’s Jewels, Talbots and Victoria’s Secret.

The Avenue is a brand of Cousins properties and has been developed in the Los Angeles and Atlanta markets. But the Collierville Avenue project, sitting on 138 acres, will be significantly larger than other Cousins’ Avenue ventures that range in size from 169,000 – 425,000 square feet.

The Collierville mall will be an open-air lifestyle center containing 810,000 square feet of fashion center space and about 220,000 square feet of big-box retail space, separately titled Carriage Plaza.

The land is jointly owned by Memphis based Boyle Investment Co. and the Morrison family, and Boyle was originally named as Wilson’s partner in the venture. But when Wilson brought Cousins on board, Boyle stepped aside, says Cary Whitehead, senior vice president at Boyle.

“It was a judgment call,” Whitehead says. “We thought it was going to be a great project, and we were excited about the opportunity to be involved. We felt Cousins would be good for the project, and we couldn’t both be in. We had to watch after the best interests of the Morrison family first and our interests second.”

The land is located off Bill Morris Parkway at the Houston Levee exit, and the mall will be bordered to the north by Houston Levee Road, to the east by Collierville Road and Nonconnah Parkway and to the west by East Shelby Drive.

According to preliminary site plans, Parisian, located on the southeast corner of the development, will occupy 124,303 square feet on two levels and Dillard’s located on the northwest corner, will occupy 200,000 square-feet on two levels.

Will Wilson, vice president of development for Wilson and Associates, says the Avenue lifestyle center will be constructed first, followed by the construction of the Carriage Plaza center. Construction has been delayed, but Wilson says he hopes to get the legal requirements completed “as soon as possible” so the partners can acquire the land and begin construction. A tentative opening date listed on Cousins’ and Wilson’s Web site is scheduled for fall 2005.

Kevin Polston, vice president of development leasing for Cousins, says his firm does not typically close on the land until construction is ready to begin, and “we have not closed on the land as of today (March 3), he says.

Cousins had been looking in the Memphis area for several years before getting involved with the Carriage Crossing project, Polston says. New houses, young families and household wealth are components Cousins tracks for its developments, and the Collierville location satisfied those requirements.

“We’ve been very interested in the Germantown-Collierville corridor,” he says. “That’s where the concentration of income is and where the highest growth in Memphis is located, and that’s generally what we follow in the market.”

Polston says the two developers were introduced through a mutual retailer and Wilson and Associates’ plans fit well with what Cousins saw in the market.

“They thought we had a lot in common, and we wound up seeing the market the same way they did,” Polston says. “With the two companies’ strengths combined, we thought it would be stronger. It is a good team to tackle the project together.”

“We just think they (Cousins) do a great job in what they do, and they have a lot of money, too,” Wilson says.

The developers will try to preserve a pedestrian-friendly element with the Carriage Crossing project. Polston says the lifestyle center will have parking located along storefronts, but will also have satellite parking lots to handle over-flow.

The center is being designed to fill a niche in the Memphis retail market, providing shoppers both the convenience of storefront parking and the satisfaction of larger-scale department store needs, Polston says. He expects to have some tenant overlap between Carriage Crossing and Saddle Creek in Germantown.

Trip Trezevant, president of Trezevant Enterprises, which has developed Abbington Center, Sloane’s Square and three phases of Shops of Collierville, doesn’t think Carriage Crossing will adversely impact his retail centers in Collierville or Saddle Creek.

“The mall would be a good thing for convenience, and it would be a good thing for the tax base,” Trezevant says. “Now Collierville isn’t going to have to go anywhere.”

The open-air concept is appealing, Trezevant says, because it serves as a deterrent for teenagers and young adults using the center as a “climatized babysitting environment.”

“It’s really going to attract the true shopper and not the person who just wants to hang out,” he says.

Cousins Properties founded in 1958, was qualified as a real estate investment trust in 1987 and its current portfolio consists of interests in 13.9 million square feet of office and medical office space, 2.5 million square feet of retail and more than 280 acres of strategically located land for future commercial development.

Other Wilson and Associates retail ventures include the 2.4 million-square-foot Riverchase Galleria in Birmingham, Ala., the 1.3 million square-foot Mall of Louisiana in Baton Rouge, La., and the 900,000 square-foot Edgewater mall in Biloxi, Miss.