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Memphis: New Downtown Westin

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A number of new hotels have opened or expanded in downtown Memphis in the past 3 or so years--the Madison, Marriott, Marriott Suites, Springhill Suites, Residence Inns, Hampton, etc., but this is the first downtown Westin. Memphis is trying to land the NBA AllStar game for 2008 and one drawback has been the lack of downtown hotel rooms since most metro hotel expansion has focused on Tunica with its 8,000 rooms.

It's odd, too, that the focus of this article is on the adjoining parking garage. Still, good news. The site (Lee's Landing) is across from the Smithsonian Rock and Soul Museum and the Gibson Guitar Factory and just south of Beale St. and west of the FedExForum.

From http://commercialappeal.com/mca/business/a...3624090,00.html

"Hotel and garage join boom

Several minority investors will own more than 25 percent of $40 million Westin and 50 percent of $9 million garage

By Jane Roberts

March 16, 2005

Financing is complete on a 525-car parking garage and neighboring Westin Hotel on the doorstep of FedExForum, ushering in more construction Downtown and, for the first time in recent history, significant minority investment.

Developer Performa Entertainment Real Estate will break ground in May on a $9 million garage in Lee's Landing, now surface parking between Second and Third behind Beale Street.

The project is named for Lt. George W. Lee, the black Memphian who received the French Croix de Guerre medal for bravery in World War I and was the "political boss of Beale Street" from the early '20s to the early '50s.

"We named the project for him because he was such an important figure in the development of Memphis," said John Elkington, head of Performa.

Later this year Nashville-based Senate Hospitality will begin building a $40 million, 202-room Westin Hotel, backed by Memphis financiers J. R. 'Pitt' Hyde III and the Kemmons Wilson family.

The first floor of the garage will include 14,000 square feet of retail, including the Ground Zero Club, a Clarksdale, Miss.-based juke-joint and eatery partly owned by actor Morgan Freeman.

Elkington has promised investors a return in eight years they can't find on Wall Street.

"Beale Street draws five million visitors a year and with 141 events at the Forum and each drawing an average of 10,000, let's just say the investors are going to do real well."

"And then we have the 'Perfect Storm' weekends," said Janet Pfaff, vice president of operations at the Center City Commission. "With events all the same night at the Forum, Beale Street, Muvico, the Orpheum and AutoZone Park, we're bursting at the seams."

Symbolically, Lt. Lee lends his spirit to one of the largest black investments Downtown. More than 25 percent of the Westin and 50 percent of the garage will be owned by minority investors, including P. J. Benton, who owns Outback Steakhouses in Memphis, and Dr. Kenneth Williams, who owns Alliance Health Care System in Holly Springs, Miss., the only minority-owned hospital in the nation.

The idea to pursue significant minority investment belongs to Elkington, who drew a page from his work on Beale Street, which he designed to showcase Memphis music and a place where "black and white people would socialize together.

"We certainly achieved that goal," he said.

"We have $2 billion worth of construction going up Downtown and not $1 million is being done by minority owners," he said. "If we are ever going to increase the wealth in the African-American community, we have to have to develop an investment class there."

--Jane Roberts: 529-2512

Terrible rendering:

16c1c_e.jpg

Site of the new hotel--parking lot with the tents and RV's:

medium.jpg

Aerial shot of the site (Lee's Landing):

original.jpg

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Well . . . . thanks!

But the way Memphis moves its dirt around--you know, through the maze of grand juries, crooked judges, felonious developers, and so forth--perhaps it would make more sense if I could leave your generosity as a bequest in my will to my 14 yr. old son. :)

And til then, there is always the on again, off again, semi-derelict Best-Western across from the Peabody. With its semi-annual plan of reorganization every so often from the bankruptcy court, it's not too bad. You just need to catch the place on an upswing. When the rooms are bad, I've just written a nasty letter to the bankruptcy judge. lol

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This looks like pretty decent infill. That's definately a top notch location for a hotel. I'm very impressed by the quality urban development taking place in Memphis. I may have missed it, but any idea on when construction will begin.

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"Later this year" is when the article states construction begins.

I first heard about this hotel a good six months ago, with "construction to begin in 2004".

It sounds to me like they've lined up financing and are probably being honest this time around.

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Do they need a new hotel in town?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

That's the only reason I could think of why Westin would build one.

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Despite what some of you in nashville think, Memphis is a thriving city; not the sleepy little river town you envision. Within 100 miles of Memphis lives almost 3 million people. Several Fortune 500 Companies are headquartered here, including FedEx, AutoZone, International Paper and ServiceMaster. It's home to the state's three largest banks, the state's largest and most prominent law firm, a burgeoning biotech industry and a world-class medical center. It's the country's number one distribution center, has the world's busies cargo airport and is a Northwest Airlines hub. And over 8 million people visit Memphis each year. Over $2 billion is being invested in Downtown Memphis alone...apartment towers, restaurants, shops, condo buildings, light rail, and yes, hotels. I've read all of your arrogant postings on some of these boards and it's ridiculous.

Nashville is a manufactured city. It stole a little bit from other cities it aspired to be and copied it. Example: Your common reference to nashville as nashvegas. Memphis is steeped in culture, history and innovation. Don't even try to compare 2nd avenue to Beale Street, because, as the name implies, it's second. Beale Street and Third in Downtown Memphis is the crossroads of American music. It's where blues, jazz and gospel all thrived and where rock-n-roll was born. Additionally, the other cultural amenities in Memphis are phenomenal! The world-class zoo with pandas (one of only 5 zoos in the US with pandas), broadway productions at The Orpheum, a symphony and opera that dates back to the 1880s and the collection of art galleries and studios that make up the South Main Arts District. And we're home to an NBA franchise that's doing VERY well here. There's a certain something about Memphis that you just don't get in nashville. There's intrigue, mystery and an energy that just draws you in when you walk around Downtown Memphis, which by the way, has the largest collection of properties on the Nat'l Historic Register per capita in the US. In nashville, all you see is the gawdy souvenir shops peddling their country crap. I'm a young marketing professional that could move to any city in the country and get a job with any company. But, I choose to stay in Memphis. And I'm part of a new movement of young professionals moving to Memphis, working at great companies, living downtown and enjoying all downtown has to offer. Just like the 25,000 other residents that live downtown. Memphis is a world-class, 24-hour city. Sure it doesn't have the sleek skyscrapers, but it certainly has a one-of-a-kind character. And that's what I love about it.

What I meant was, was the tourism climate asking for a new hotel, or the business traveler climate?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

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Nashville and Memphis are both great cities in a great state and I'm not sure what the obsession with tearing one down and building the other up is with everyone. I'd agree with most of what you say about Memphis, Mike.

I would however strongly disagree with your characterization of Nashville as a "manufactured city." The term "nashvegas" has nothing at all to do with the city...its just a playful term locals like to use and has no bearing on whether or not Nashville stole everything about it from other cities. I'm not sure what you think Nashville stole from other cities to "manufacture" its identity. People from both cities seem to be proud or maybe even arrogant, as you put it, about their hometown, but both cities are uniquely great.

I think the prevalent idea is that Memphis has had to go through an extended transition phase from important port city on the Mississippi to a more well rounded economic base which hurt it for several years. Meanwhile, Nashville had the luxury of avoiding such a severe downturn and was able to catch up to Memphis in size and prosperity. I would add that both are doing very well right now and growing at an amazing pace.

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Mike, whether any of that about Memphis and Nashville is warranted or not, I found your post a overreactionary backhanded way to insult us here in Nashville. It's an odd way for a young, upwardly mobile, professional marketing person to speak of another city and culture.

You must have skipped the class the days they discussed protocol. Maybe you can get a rebate.

I'm curious, though. In this thread, what exactly was it that doorman said to set you off?

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For me, it's like two people in Kansas arguing over which is better, Topeka or Wichita. No one else cares and for most outsiders the two cities could be tweedleedum and tweedleedee.

I plan on retiring to a cabin on a little lake in northern Minnesota for the summer and a little condo in New Orleans for the winter. As long as you have a job--or don't need one as in retirement--New Orleans has it ten times over Nashville and Memphis in terms of urban living. Why settle for less.

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Despite what some of you in nashville think, Memphis is a thriving city; not the sleepy little river town you envision. Within 100 miles of Memphis lives almost 3 million people. Several Fortune 500 Companies are headquartered here, including FedEx, AutoZone, International Paper and ServiceMaster. It's home to the state's three largest banks, the state's largest and most prominent law firm, a burgeoning biotech industry and a world-class medical center. It's the country's number one distribution center, has the world's busies cargo airport and is a Northwest Airlines hub. And over 8 million people visit Memphis each year. Over $2 billion is being invested in Downtown Memphis alone...apartment towers, restaurants, shops, condo buildings, light rail, and yes, hotels. I've read all of your arrogant postings on some of these boards and it's ridiculous.

Nashville is a manufactured city. It stole a little bit from other cities it aspired to be and copied it. Example: Your common reference to nashville as nashvegas. Memphis is steeped in culture, history and innovation. Don't even try to compare 2nd avenue to Beale Street, because, as the name implies, it's second. Beale Street and Third in Downtown Memphis is the crossroads of American music. It's where blues, jazz and gospel all thrived and where rock-n-roll was born. Additionally, the other cultural amenities in Memphis are phenomenal! The world-class zoo with pandas (one of only 5 zoos in the US with pandas), broadway productions at The Orpheum, a symphony and opera that dates back to the 1880s and the collection of art galleries and studios that make up the South Main Arts District. And we're home to an NBA franchise that's doing VERY well here. There's a certain something about Memphis that you just don't get in nashville. There's intrigue, mystery and an energy that just draws you in when you walk around Downtown Memphis, which by the way, has the largest collection of properties on the Nat'l Historic Register per capita in the US. In nashville, all you see is the gawdy souvenir shops peddling their country crap. I'm a young marketing professional that could move to any city in the country and get a job with any company. But, I choose to stay in Memphis. And I'm part of a new movement of young professionals moving to Memphis, working at great companies, living downtown and enjoying all downtown has to offer. Just like the 25,000 other residents that live downtown.  Memphis is a world-class, 24-hour city. Sure it doesn't have the sleek skyscrapers, but it certainly has a one-of-a-kind character. And that's what I love about it.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

well i'm glad you're proud of memphis, you should be. but by attacking nashville because someone said something bad about memphis (still don't know where you got that from) you are putting yourself in the same position as that person. both are great cities and have plenty to offer. before making broad generalizations, please make sure you know what you're talking about.

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well i'm glad you're proud of memphis, you should be. but by attacking nashville because someone said something bad about memphis (still don't know where you got that from) you are putting yourself in the same position as that person. both are great cities and have plenty to offer. before making broad generalizations, please make sure you know what you're talking about.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

This is going to be great for memphis, i cant wait to see it!!!

Check out my website : http://www.tournashville.net

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