Retail is part of Madison@McLean apartment building

Published on: November 27, 2018

By Tom Bailey | Daily Memphian

The Madison@McLean apartments under construction in Midtown will include ground-floor retail space, the developers confirmed Monday.

The plans likely will be welcomed news to New Urbanism proponents who believe a mixed-use building will make the sidewalks in the heart of Midtown a livelier, more appealing place.

Developers Makowsky Ringel Greenberg (MRG) distributed a press release noting that construction has begun on the $14 million, 108-unit apartment building.

The five-story, 132,477-square-foot building designed by Fleming Architects is expected to be completed sometime in the last three months of 2019. It will rise across McLean from The Gilmore, another building with commercial spaces on the ground floor and apartments above.

Madison@McLean will front an entire block of Madison, from McLean to Idlewild. The retail space will total 1,000 to 2,000 square feet at the most visible spot, the corner of Madison and McLean.

The ground floor also will include covered, gate-controlled parking. Apartments will be on floors two through five.

The release also states that Madison@McLean will be built to energy-conservation standards that Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division calls “EcoBUILD."

The one- and two-bedroom apartments will have “sleek, modern interiors featuring stainless appliances, granite and other high-end finishes," the release states. “… Amenities include a well-equipped fitness center, bike storage and a pet wash room, designed to support an active Midtown lifestyle."

Retail was not cited as being part of the project in summer 2017 when Madison@McLean received Shelby County’s first Residential PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) tax incentive. But developers on Monday said retail was always part of the plan because it was required by zoning for that address.

“It makes sense for them to add that component," Danny Buring said of retail. He is managing partner of The Shopping Center Group, which is helping land commercial tenants for The Citizen, another mixed-use building under construction a block south at McLean and Union.

“Which is a very similar project," Buring said. “We’ve got 10,000 square feet of retail.

“I think for the right (retail) tenant that can take advantage of the people already on the property – a restaurant, something fitness-related – it’s a great amenity," he said of Madison@McLean.

“... Almost everything we’re seeing nowadays is mixed use."

Financial Federal Bank arranged construction financing for  Madison@McLean.

Madison is important in connecting Downtown Memphis with Midtown and Overton Square, and Madison@McLean will play a role in making Madison a greater street, indicated Brett Roler, vice president for planning and development at the Downtown Memphis Commission.

"Active ground-floors with storefront windows give the pedestrian something to look forward to and help break up the monotony of walking block after block with little to no visual interest," Roler said in an email response to the Daily Memphian. "I’d personally rather walk 10 blocks in a vibrant urban downtown than one block across a strip mall parking lot."

Downtown's most successful commercial streets have active ground floors that make pedestrians feel most comfortable, he said.

"With projects ranging in size from the adaptive reuse project at 149 Madison, to the full renovation of the Hickman Building (now known as The Commonwealth), the western end of Madison Avenue in Downtown Memphis is ripe with new investment and exciting development," Roler said.

"The new construction at the intersection of Madison and McLean is exciting because of its potential to help knit together the commercial activity you see elsewhere on the street," he said.

"With Fuel Café, BBQ Shop, and Blue Nile to the west and Fino’s and Huey’s to the east, this segment of Madison has the potential to be an even stronger node of retail and commercial vibrancy," Roler said. "Adding new infill development with an active ground-floor will help fill in the gaps of the urban fabric and make this section of Midtown even stronger.

Meanwhile, construction is to start sometime during the first half of next year at MRG’s even bigger Midtown project flanking the intersection of Sam Cooper and East Parkway, the developers announced. That apartment community, originally called Overton Gateway, will have 176 units.

“We’ve owned both of these properties for several years and have long hoped that we’d be able to build nearly 300 new apartment homes in this vibrant, high-demand area," Gary Makowsky, MRG’s chief development officer, said of the Midtown sites. “We’re excited both projects are moving forward."