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Restaurants may anchor commercial space at The Citizen (Memphis)

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Updated: October 03, 2018 6:58 AM CT
There’s no mystery upstairs. Apartment dwellers will occupy the upper floors of The Citizen, the $35 million, mixed-use development being built at Midtown’s most prominent intersection.

But the front, ground floor cavity already created by construction workers on the corner of Union and McLean is like a blank space waiting for an answer to the question:  What businesses will occupy the space?

No lease has been signed, no deal completed, things could still change, and possible leases are still being negotiated. But, letters of intent involving two different restaurants are in the works.

That’s the word from Danny Buring, managing partner with the commercial real estate firm The Shopping Center Group.

The two restaurants are so different that they would not compete much with each other.

If those restaurants come in, The Citizen would still have room for another commercial tenant or two.

The place is to be ready to occupy by spring, Buring said.

The Citizen will offer 173 apartment units. Some units will be housed in the former, adjacent hotel that contractor Montgomery Martin is renovating for co-developers Belz Enterprises and Harbour Retail Partners of Atlanta. Most the other apartments will be on the upper floors of the newly constructed building at the corner.

About 10,000 square feet of the ground floor is reserved for commercial leases.

“It’s the best intersection in Midtown,’’ Buring said.

Decades have passed since such a mixed-use building has been erected in Midtown.

The existing, mostly underground parking structure is being renovated. Seventy-five of the spaces are being reserved for the retail customers, and the rest for apartment residents.

The retail spaces are ‘’ground-level-ish,’’ Buring said of the split-level parking garage.

Among the retail leases of smaller, non-big-box spaces that have been signed in Memphis recently, restaurants and fitness centers are leading the way, Buring said.

“While we used to pursue dress shops and whatever used to be called ‘traditional retail,’ right now a ton of our activity is with restaurants and fitness users,’’ he said.

Medical and service-related tenants are also strong.

Restaurants may have among the highest failure rates, but they keep coming, Buring said. New restaurants are often filling spaces where failed restaurants had closed.

“I think the restaurant business is stronger than ever,’’ Buring said. “Some of what we’re doing now is re-leasing the space to a restaurant that we had leased to another restaurant two or three or five years ago. We continue to see local, regional and national brands wanting to grow and coming to Memphis.’’

The Shopping Center Group has brokered at least 15 leases with restaurants this year alone, Buring estimates.

LRK Architects designed The Citizen, which will have a façade of light-colored stucco with wood-veneer accents.

Original article appeared here.

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