MEMPHIS BUSINESS JOURNAL | MEAGAN NICHOLS
One of Downtown Memphis’ “Dirty Dozen” has been sold and is being evaluated for redevelopment.
In September, Walk-Off Properties LLC, a private investment group led by Michael Cook, bought the long-dormant Hickman Building at 240 Madison Ave. from Hickman Properties LLC for $1 million.
Walk-Off also bought the adjacent property at 251 Court Ave. from the Shelby County Board of Education for $130,000.
John Stemmler, an attorney with Bass, Berry & Sims PLC and Walk-Off Properties' registered agent, said the properties were acquired for the sole purpose of determining how they can be revitalized to benefit the investors and the city at large.
“Due to the status of the Hickman Building as it relates to its tax position and state of neglect, I saw a unique opportunity that could be an asset to Downtown real estate and commerce,” Cook said. “While I will have no active involvement in the development process, I have hired the best in the business to explore what the potential of this building may be and look forward to their future findings.”
To determine the property’s best use and highest value, Walk-Off has hired Looney Ricks Kiss, project consultant Scott Bojko and Doug Carpenter & Associates.
“This team will be responsible for the design, historic tax issues and visioning for the building, as well as branding and marketing,” Stemmler said.
Built in 1926, the eight-story neo-gothic-style Hickman Building has been listed on the Downtown Memphis Commission’s “Dirty Dozen” of boarded-up properties that it would like to see rehabilitated.
The Hickman, most recently the Medical Arts Building, has about 100,000 square feet of space since tenants vacated it in 1971.
Before the Walk-Off acquisition, the building was headed to a tax sale auction, and was at rick of remaining abandoned.
“We have all looked at the property with a great sense of wonder for what it could be,” said Frank Ricks, co-founder and principal with Looney Ricks Kiss. “With the recent renovations of AutoZone Park, Visible Music College, up-and-coming Edge District, and overall Downtown renaissance to and through the Medical District, we look forward to uncovering the greatest value for this building’s use.”
“The adjacent property creates an opportunity to address blight on that entire block between Madison and Court, which is especially nice for Downtown Elementary School,” said Rob Norcross of Looney Ricks Kiss. “With both properties on the drawing board, we will explore mixed use, commercial, residential, and other uses to find the right combination that creates a thriving asset.”
LRK, Bojko, and Doug Carpenter & Associates worked together as the original development team that reimagined the Sears Crosstown project.
“Walk-Off Properties LCC is committed to not only add value to the investment, but to also rediscover and reintroduce a vibrant future asset to the Downtown landscape,” said Doug Carpenter, principal of Doug Carpenter & Associates. “This building’s acquisition marks the intersection of business and civic interests.”