WAYNE RISHER | THE COMMERCIAL APPEAL
Two cocktail bars, a restaurant and a redevelopment of the historic National Biscuit Company building won incentives from a Downtown board Wednesday.
The Center City Development Corporation, an arm of the Downtown Memphis Commission, approved:
- A $25,336 grant for exterior improvements at 115 Union, where owner Tyrone Burroughs plans to open a cocktail bar named The Pocket, perhaps by April.
- A $100,000 exterior improvement grant for 1 South Main, which owners of the Madison Hotel plan to convert to a full-service restaurant, a speakeasy-style bar and a one-chair barber shop.
- A $100,000, low-interest development loan and $44,941 exterior improvement grant for Doug Carpenter & Associates new home at 11 W. Huling, a more than century-old building that was an early distribution point for Nabisco products.
Burroughs renovated the five-story, 117-year-old building at 115 Union in 2012, aided by a tax abatement incentive from the Downtown agency. The Lofts at 115 Union's apartments on upper floors are fully occupied, but ground floor retail has remained vacant. The grant, matched dollar for dollar by the owner, will pay for lighting, gates and other exterior improvements.
It will advance the cause of Downtown by helping put a viable business in the space, the commission’s vice president of planning and development Brett Roler said. Interior construction, kitchen and bar equipment and furnishings are completed in the 6,200-square-foot space. Burroughs also is a partner in the South Main restaurant Rizzo’s.
Owners of 1 South Main are investing in the building at the corner of Madison and South Main as part of their upgrades to the Madison Hotel. They’re replacing Sam’s, a deli, and a check-cashing business with the restaurant, bar and barber shop. The three-story building, built in 1935, has residential units on the two upper floors.
The board’s approval came after Christopher Reyes, who identified himself as a building resident, asked for a vote to be delayed. Reyes said he bought his unit as a condominium 25 years ago but is now fighting eviction. Board attorney Charles Carpenter said the legal dispute had no bearing on the board’s decision.
Hotel owners plan a $250,745 facelift of the building. It's in an area of Main Street where the board has approved several exterior improvement grants for other buildings in the last year or so, Roler said.
The Madison shut down Eighty3 restaurant and its bar, Twilight, in January, to make way for a renovation and rebranding of hotel food and beverage offerings. The hotel was purchased in 2016 by Chicago-based Aparium Hotel Group and G4, a New York equity partner.
Board members praised Doug Carpenter’s redevelopment of 11 West Huling.
Carpenter bought the former Woodliff Photography studio and residence last year and moved his communications firm’s offices there. He’s opening an Airbnb and space for community gatherings, meetings, photo shoots and other events.
Sharon Leicham said the event space is a particularly welcome feature of the $144,941 project.
Carpenter said he’d already gotten a half dozen inquiries from organizations interested in using the space.