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‘Retail is not dead’: Expert talks Lakeland, U.S. market strength 

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‘Retail is not dead’: Expert talks Lakeland, U.S. market strength

By Michael Waddell, Special to the Daily Memphian
Updated: June 23, 2023 8:49 PM CT | Published: June 23, 2023 1:16 PM CT

Retail specialist Shawn Massey, a partner with The Shopping Center Group, highlighted the city’s strong position while speaking to the Lakeland Industrial Development Board on Thursday, June 22. He said Lakeland’s situation presents a positive outlook for the suburb as well as the overall market condition in the Mid-South.

“Retail is not dead,” Massey said. “Retail is very strong right now. In Memphis, we have a less than 3% vacancy rate. We don’t have enough properties for the retailers that are looking.”

U.S. retail vacancy rates have dropped below pre-pandemic levels. Massey said vacancies are the lowest “it’s ever been in Memphis,” and that the area is “in the Roaring ‘20s of retail now.”

According to Massey, last year the Memphis market absorbed more than 850,000 square feet of retail, while only 300,000 square feet was built. To meet some of that demand, there are 33 new projects planned or underway with retail space totaling 857,000 square feet.

He notes a paradigm shift in retail centers away from the big-box and large shopping mall concepts that dominate the nearby Wolfchase area.

There are currently 20 mixed-use projects underway in the Mid-South area.

“What we’re building now is what you’re seeing at The Lake District. What you will see at Ashmont. What you’re going to see at Hawthorne in Arlington, the Silo down in Southaven. A rise of mixed-use projects that is really going to change the way we shop,” Massey said.

Another trend Massey is seeing is the downsizing of some former big-box stores like Best Buy and Dick’s Sporting Goods.

“Best Buy used to be 50,000 square feet. The new stores are 5,000 square feet,” he said. “That’s a good thing for communities like Lakeland that don’t want big-box retail in their community.”

At the Ashmont mixed-use project within the Lakeland Gateway TIF district near the Interstate 40-Canada Road exit, Massey says around 80% of the available commercial space is in the Letter-of-Interest phase or further along.

“We’re very happy with it. We’re already moving dirt on the property,” he said. So far, no names of retailers or restaurants have been revealed for the project.

Massey is also working with The Lake District on the south side of the interstate from Ashmont to find tenants for numerous outparcels located along I-40.

IDB member Shaun Brannen wants to make sure the city has its infrastructure in place to handle the growth and things like traffic that will come along with it.

“I definitely support growth inside the city. I just would encourage it to be disciplined and planned. We’ve got to think through these different parts and pieces…because I would like to see some of the projects we’ve started actually get finished,” he said.

Mayor and IDB member Josh Roman noted that the city increased taxes last week to help with the costs of redeveloping the Lakeland Gateway area, including building a new YMCA and Shelby County Sheriff’s station.

“That was to focus on the redevelopment of the area that we’re hoping makes it more attractive and makes it more open and has some more users in the area that bring (the) community out into the open,” Roman said.

The redevelopment will include the demolition of the Relax Inn and Econo Lodge that have become magnets for crime and illicit activity in recent years. The city is in the process of acquiring those properties now.


Full Daily Memphian Article Here

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