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Memphis: Kress Building to become Marriott hotel

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Guest donaltopablo

New life for historic space

Kress Building to become Marriott hotel suites

Kate Miller Morton

Atlanta-based Summit Management Corp. is redeveloping the Kress Building at 9 N. Main into 46 hotel suites with meeting and retail space.

The Kress suites will serve as an historic annex to the adjacent SpringHill Suites by Marriott, which Summit also developed and manages.

"Because of our current operation here, the unique location of Court Square and the historic significance of the building, we think all of those things together will make it a feasible development," says Summit Management president Greg Averbuch.

THG Main LLC purchased the 50,000-square-foot building for $500,000. Averbuch, who also serves as chief manager of THG Main, says the redevelopment will cost between $5 million-$6 million.

"Anytime you do renovation and work with historic buildings there is a cost premium," Averbuch says.

The company plans to apply for historic tax credits and the Center City Commission's payment-in-lieu-of-tax program.

Although the Downtown hotel market remains soft, Averbuch says the double queen suites of the annex will offer a different product that will appeal to convention goers and travel groups. With just 46 suites in the building, the Kress annex will also offer wedding parties, family reunions and other groups the opportunity to take over an entire building instead of a single floor.

Built in 1927, the building has been vacant since late 1994 when McCrory Stores closed its last Kress store in Memphis. Once divided into two properties, the building was owned by 9 North Main LLC since 1998, when the Goodlett estate combined their half of the building with the half owned by the Grosvenor, Petree and Jeffords families.

Developer Henry Grosvenor, a partner in the No. 10 Main apartment building, tried to redevelop the Kress and Lerner buildings into apartments for some time, but was stymied by the lack of parking.

"We wanted to put parking in the basements of both buildings but couldn't make it work out economically," Grosvenor says. "That's when we started talking to Averbuch next door because they have plenty of parking, the hotels and the infrastructure."

Architecture, Inc., is a design consultant on the adaptive reuse of the project. Principal David Schuermann says the building's signature polychrome terra-cotta finish is in good shape and will require little work. The building's steel windows have also weathered the decades well and can likely be restored.

The Kress building is on the historic register, which could complicate some adaptive issues such as installing windows on the building's south side and building a connecting bridge from the upper floors to the rest of the SpringHill Suites.

"All of those things will be an issue, but I think they will be able to be solved successfully," Schuermann says.

Averbuch says the building's square footage can be used very efficiently for a hotel. The upper floors will be particularly easy to adapt because they were designed for storage and contain no interior walls.

Summit plans to begin cleaning and stabilizing the building early next year and hopes to begin construction in the spring. If all goes well, the annex could open in the spring of 2005.

Summit developed the SpringHill Suites in 2002 and the adjacent Sleep Inn in 1996. The company developed and manages three hotels in Atlanta as well as some multi-family and office property in Huntsville, Ala.

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