DSG plans to transform Edge District with live-work-play concept

New life is on the way for 10 acres within the Edge District as Development Services Group (DSG) has announced plans for $73 million in redevelopment along Madison and Monroe Avenues, that will include historic properties like the former Wonder Bread factory.

The project will feature a variety of new residential, office and retail space, as well as public greenspace. Plans include the adaptive reuse of more than 150,000 square feet of existing structures, some of which are more than 100 years old, as well as ground-up construction.

“The Edge District has experienced a gradual decline over the past two decades,” said DSG Vice President of Development Ethan Knight, who cites the fact that the area was originally known as “Auto Row” because many early auto dealerships were located there. “As the dealerships and maintenance shops moved to much larger lots further and further east, there’s been this hole between Downtown Memphis and the Medical Center area that’s really had trouble recovering.”

The last straw that dealt a major blow to the area was the Wonder Bread bakery closing several years ago.

“We view the Edge District as that next big opportunity for downtown to begin its expansion,” said Knight. “Connecting the solid downtown core with the Medical Center through a great live-work-play neighborhood is a strong move for the future of Downtown Memphis.”

DSG is seeking a 20-year PILOT incentive from the Downtown Memphis Commission (DMC) for the project. If approved, construction could get underway as soon as September, and the overall project is expected to be completed in less than two years.

PGK Properties owns all of the parcels under redevelopment, and DSG is the master developer (with SWH Partners co-developing the apartments at 400 Monroe Avenue). Worthington Hyde is the project’s investment partner. Looney Ricks Kiss assisted DSG with master planning.

The eastern section of the former Wonder Bread bakery at 400 Monroe Avenue will be torn down and converted into 286 market-rate, class-A apartments and a 480-space parking garage, while the more culturally-significant western section will be preserved and adapted into 75,000 square feet of new class-A office and retail space (possibly for a restaurant or grocery). The office space is expected to become the headquarters for a 120-employee financial services firm currently located outside of Memphis.

“The Cycle Shop” at 421 Monroe Avenue will be renovated for mixed-use that will include a new location for City & State and the offices of the Memphis Medical District Collaborative, among others. A2H is the architect and engineer, and ViktorHall Construction will be the contractor.

The 35,000-square-foot former glass factory at 435 Madison Avenue will be adapted into office and recreational space, and 411 Monroe Avenue will be restored into 17,000 square feet of class-A office space.

A second phase of the project will include the redevelopment of an abandoned rail spur, known as “The Ravine,” into new public greenspace, adaptive reuse conversions of 484 Union Avenue, 571 Marshall Avenue, 603 Monroe Avenue (formerly Kudzus) and 620 Monroe Avenue into new mixed-use properties, along with new construction on the surface parking lot next to 603 Monroe Avenue.

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Michael Waddell is a native Memphian who returned to Memphis several years ago after working for nearly a decade in San Diego and St. Petersburg, Fla., as a writer, editor and graphic designer. His work over the past few years has been featured in The Memphis Daily News, Memphis Bioworks Magazine, Memphis Crossroads, the New York Daily News and the New York Post. Contact Michael.