December 01, 2016

Three CRE Firms Join to Improve Connectivity at Busy Poplar

The Daily News

Three Memphis real estate companies with significant assets in the Poplar Avenue/Ridgeway Road area are making plans to improve connectivity and walkability there.

Map of Memphis Overhead

Boyle Investment Co., Highwoods Properties Inc. and Loeb Properties Inc. are forming the Shady Grove/Ridgeway Business Owners Association (BOA), an advocacy organization focused on pedestrian/streetscape enhancements for the East Memphis business district, particularly at Poplar and South Shady Grove Road.

The area is comprised of office buildings, stores, restaurants, hotels and medical facilities, many that are owned by Boyle, Highwoods or Loeb.

“We want to make it easier for office workers in Boyle’s new ‘Class A’ office building at 949 Shady Grove or at Highwoods’ premier office buildings at Triad Centre to cross Shady Grove at lunchtime and dine at any of the restaurants in Regalia shopping center or at Grisanti’s at the Embassy Suites,” Boyle Executive Vice President and COO Mark Halperin said in a release.

The Poplar Corridor in East Memphis is one of the busiest areas of the city with more than 7.7 million square feet of office space. Office space in the East Memphis submarket is at a premium, with a vacancy rate of only 3.9 percent for Class A space.

The BOA first plans to address walkability in the area of South Shady Grove stretching from Briarcrest Avenue on the north and extending across Poplar to Park Place shopping center on the south at Ridgeway and Park Avenue.

Engineering consultant Kimley-Horn has conducted a review of the area’s traffic patterns and recommends medians and crosswalks to create a more pedestrian friendly environment.

The Shady Grove/Ridgeway BOA is coordinating with Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, Shelby County Commissioner Heidi Shafer and City Councilman Kemp Conrad to develop a plan incorporating Smart Growth concepts that could eventually result in the creation of a Business Improvement District.

But the group’s first priority is to implement streetscape enhancements and crosswalks, which will create connectivity in the busy commercial district.

“We are looking forward to working with Mayor Jim Strickland, County Commissioner Heidi Shafer and Councilman Kemp Conrad to develop a plan that would benefit all area stakeholders,” said Highwoods Memphis Division Vice President Steve Guinn.

The efforts by the new Shady Grove/Ridgeway BOA will further augment recent improvements made by the city of Memphis. In 2015, the city completed a crucial widening project at the Ridgway Center and Poplar Avenue exit ramp and installed additional sidewalks, which allow pedestrians to walk from Ridgeway Center across Poplar to Ridgeway Trace shopping center. The Shady Grove/Ridgeway BOA plans to expand on those improvements and deliver a more comprehensive effort by involving all area property owners.

“The underlying concept of the plan is that built environments, which promote and facilitate walking – to stores, restaurants, work, and amenities – are better places to live, have higher real estate values, promote healthier lifestyles, and have higher levels of social cohesion,” said Les Binkley, vice president of Boyle. “We think this effort will enhance the already vibrant East Memphis business district and provide the thousands of office workers in the area a more pedestrian friendly environment.”

All three real estate firms are active members of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) and are incorporating principles that ULI promotes, including enhanced walkability and a robust mixture of uses. These are the same principles that have been applied to various areas within Memphis including Downtown, Crosstown and the University District.

Binkley, a ULI Memphis board member and its chair of Mission Advancement, is working with Tommy Pacello, co-chair of ULI Memphis, to ensure that the plan for this area incorporates ULI tenets.