July 12, 2016

Retail Chase Land in Collierville

By Nicky Robertshaw
– The Memphis Business Journal –

As Memphis and its suburbs have developed over the years, the pattern of retail following rooftops has repeated itself many times. A recent example is Cordova, which in 1995 and 1996 gained more than 2 million square feet of retail as stores and restaurants rushed into that thriving market. Now, Collierville, where the rooftops have been steadily gathering over the last decade, is getting ready to experience its own surge of retail development. Not only are shopping centers being developed along the Poplar corridor west of the central business district, bigger developments now being planned for several years out in the area south of Poplar will include significant retail components.

"We’re getting an increasing number of inquiries," says Fred D. Rogers, director, department of development, for the Town of Collierville. He adds that for some time retailers have been impressed with the figures and all the residential growth taking place there.

"Now, though, I think we’re getting to the point where we have sufficient numbers so that they are not only impressed, but ready to take some action," he says. As a result, "in the next three-five years we’re going to see a steady increase in retail," Rogers says. The Collection of Houston Levee, a 28,000-square-foot shopping center is being built on the NW corner of Poplar and Houston Levee. Huey’s has signed a lease to build its fifth location at the shopping center. The center is being developed and leased by Trammell Crow Co. Site work is under way, with a late 1998 completion date. Gallina Centro is a 400,000-square-foot shopping center at the southwest corner of Byhalia and Poplar, just west of the Collierville city limits. The center, which is being developed and leased by Boyle Investment Co., is set to begin construction this spring with a spring 1999 target completion date.

Another center, in the works on a 28-acre site at Byhalia near Poplar just behind the Walgreen’s at the northwest corner of the two roads. Although nothing has been announced, the center is said to be getting both a Home Depot and an Albertson’s supermarket.

A 207-acre multi-use project by developer Tom Hutton is in the works for the area between Byhalia and the realigned Collierville Road and between East Shelby and Nonconnah. About 50 acres of the land that fronts the reconfigured Collierville is going to be developed into shopping centers. Schilling Farms, a 450-acre, $350 million mixed-use planned development under way by Boyle, will likely have retail at the northwest and northeast corners of Winchester and Schilling Boulevard. Each of the corners could be developed into shopping centers in the 100,000-square-foot range, but that’s still a few years off, according to Fritz Mattern, director of leasing for the developer.

Boyle is wasting no time, however, in actively marketing the Schilling Farms outparcels along Poplar, which could accommodate as many as seven businesses. Price Farms, a 245 acre mixed-use development that Boyle is doing at Winchester and Nonconnah just south of the FedEx campus, also will include a retail component at some point in the future.

What’s happening with the population growth in Collierville is not going unnoticed by automobile dealers or by purveyors of entertainment. For example, Malco Theaters is breaking ground on a 12-screen movie theatre. A number of automobile dealers are kicking the tires on property with an eye to relocating operations near this growing population. Of course, it’s not like Collierville today is bereft of retail. In addition to a thriving town square filled with shops, restaurants and antique stores, there are also numerous chain restaurants that have opened for business in recent years along Poplar, including Applebee’s and Krystal. Area shopping centers include City Center Shopping Plaza, anchored by Payless Cashways, and The Market on Poplar, anchored by a Jitney Premier supermarket. All told, Collierville had 860,000 square feet in retail centers of 8,000 square feet or more at the end of 1996, but a relatively low occupancy rate of 81%, according to Weston Cos.’ most recent annual retail market report.

Those familiar with the area say occupancy is low because the available space doesn’t meet the needs of retailers, whereas the new development will.

The imminent wave of new retail development is being driven by the fact that a major part of the growth in Shelby County is going out to that area, establishing a strong retail base of customers, says Mattern. "Their customers are coming to this area to live," he says. What’s more, he believes Fayette County to the east is also going to experience strong residential growth that will further feed the Germantown and Collierville markets.

The growth of rooftops so far in Collierville has been impressive. During the last decade, between 300 and 750 new single-family dwellings have been sold in the Collierville area annually, with 596 single-family homes sold last year, according to Chandler Reports, a Memphis company that tracks new construction. Growth is continuing, as the extension of Nonconnah Parkway toward Collierville continues, making commutes to and from the area much quicker than in the past.  "People can live further out in the county and still get to work on time," Mattern points out. The parkway, now complete through Winchester and Bailey Station, is expected to be open to Houston Levee in a year, with Highway 72 right after that. So who’s buying all of these homes?  "It appears to be a mix of people from Memphis who want to be in an area where property values are escalating, so that they can resell the property easily," he notes.

Garner Chandler of Chandler Reports notes that for years Cordova and Collierville have been neck-and-neck in terms of growth in the number of new homes and the dollar volume. That’s true despite the fact that Cordova covers a much larger area. "Collierville is becoming more of an executive bedroom community, while Cordova is more middle-or upper-middle-class," she says. Her figures indicate that the average value of the homes being built in the Collierville area has grown to $235,946 from $136,332 in 1988.

At the end of 1997, Collierville had 470 homes that were either built or under construction but not yet sold, she notes. They are currently being marketed. While homes continue to be built in the area, observers note a few trends as 1998 gets underway. "I’d describe the residential growth as having leveled of," Rogers says. He points out that last year the city issued building permits for 500 single-family dwellings, compared with about 800 per year about three years ago. He sees a trend toward smaller lots-half an acre instead of two acres to five acres. Yet because home values have grown so much, the ones with half an acre sell for as much as the two-to five-acre lots did when they were first built. Rogers expects future growth to continue at a rate of about 500 single-family homes a year plus a several-hundred-unit luxury apartment coming on line every year or so.

Although residential growth is the main thing attracting retailers, another important element in Collierville’s development is the entry of large employers, which further enhances the area as a retail market, observers say. FedEx is building a 400,000-square-foot technology campus that will house 3,000 employees, while Baptist Memorial Health Care Corp. Is constructing a hospital and related offices. The office components of various multi-use developments also will add to the employment base when they are built and leased out.

A big concern among developers for the future is whether the Town of Collierville can deliver the necessary sewer capacity and other infrastructure to support all of the homes, shopping centers, offices and other buildings being planned. Rogers notes that the city is working hard to expand infrastructure. The city will complete $12 million worth of sewer improvements by April or May, including an interceptor that runs along the Nonconnah Parkway route, a second wastewater treatment plant and a pump station. "All of this will serve the southeast an northwest quadrants (of Collierville), which are the growth areas," Rogers says.