‘Game-changer’ homes showcased in Uptown

Published on: 23 June 2021

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Kenny Halt has lived about two months in Uptown’s new Malone Park Commons, where he steps onto the front porch of his rental home and can easily talk with surrounding neighbors on their porches.

“I’ve had conversations porch-to-porch,” Halt said Wednesday, June 23, during an open house for Malone Park Commons’ 11-house, first phase.

“I know my neighbors pretty well. We regularly run into each other,” Halt said. “… I’ve made friends with pretty much everybody I live near.”

Such potential for social interaction and neighborliness is just how developers Andre Jones and his brother, Curtis Jones, designed Malone Park Commons’ first section.

Several dozen guests of the open house mingled comfortably and intimately among the houses’ front porches, just like the first residents can do.

The houses don’t have to be spaced farther apart to accommodate driveways and garages. Parking and vehicle access are in the back.

The just-completed phase comprises 11 houses in two rows that face each other, divided only by a 20-foot common ground of grass and crushed-limestone walkway.

Malone Park Commons is on seven-tenths of an acre bounded by North Second Street, Saffarans Avenue, North Main Street and existing homes.

Andre Jones hosted the open house Wednesday, having already filled with tenants the homes lining the east side of the common space. He said he believes all the homes on the west side are already reserved by future tenants, who start moving in July 1.

“I feel very fortunate,” Jones said between his conversations with guests. He’s been at least thinking about and working on the project for years.

“And to have all these caring people help me and my brother, Curtis, make this happen, it’s an amazing feeling.”

He expressed gratitude for the support of the Downtown Memphis Commission (DMC), Community Redevelopment Agency, Memphis Medical District Collaborative and lender Financial Federal. “They all chipped in to make this possible,” Jones said. “I can’t thank them enough.”

Among the guests was Paul Young, the DMC president. He praised Malone Park Commons both for the type of “thoughtful” infill development it represents and as an example for other minority developers like the Jones brothers.

“It’s important to see minority developers be able to get a start in developing projects like this,” Young said. “So we’re really excited to see it happen.”

Much larger developments typically draw more attention from the news media, Young said.

“But these are the game-changers for the neighborhoods because they change the perception of what can be in a community,” he said. “And we haven’t seen a lot of this type of housing.

“This is the ‘missing middle’-type where you are building smaller units in a more dense fashion,” Young said. “But there are many people who like to live in these types of units. This is a great way to do infill.”

The first phase includes studio houses that rent for $600 a month, two-bedroom houses for $1,400 a month, and one-bedroom houses that rent for $1,050 monthly.

Construction of the 24-unit, second phase should start no later than Oct. 1, Jones said. That work should take about a year to complete once work starts.