Germantown bets on live-work-play with $200M town hall project

Atlanta-based developer Carter USA has the initial green light from the city of Germantown to move forward with its proposed $200 million 33-acre walkable mixed-use development that will go up to the west of Saddle Creek on the south side of Poplar Avenue.

“A development like what the Carter group has proposed is really a generational changing type of town center or town village,” said Germantown Mayor Mike Palazzolo of the development, which is billed as a live-work-play project.

“I think it’s going to be real game changer for the city. We’re seeing a lot of new and younger families coming in, and they want options. They want areas that are safe and inviting where they can bring their kids.”

Carter USA’s plans call for 254,500 square feet of retail, including a 40,000-square-foot theater; 56,400 square feet of office space; a 130-room hotel; 302 apartments and more than 2,000 surface and structured parking spots.

“We’re pretty much a 12-hour city, open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and I think the community would like to see it become a 15-hour city, open from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., with some options in the evening like some forms of entertainment, shopping and dining,” said Palazzolo, who envisions the project as similar to Overton Square, with the potential for jazz playing in one of the center’s public realms on cool evenings or a pop-up ice skating rink in the winter.

“There will be programming 250 to 300 days per year, so there will always be activity there.”

The center will have indoor and outdoor dining options with early renderings showing warehouse-style rolling doors for opening up the restaurant and shop spaces, and there will be a pedestrian connection to the nearby neighborhoods with green space and a pond on the western side of the development as well as connectivity to the adjacent Market Square and Saddle Creek areas.

The project fits in with Germantown’s heavily citizen-influenced Vision 2020 and Forward 2030 long-term strategic plans, which focus on New Urbanist practices like mixed-use and how to get the most out of limited commercial parcels.

“Germantown is fully annexed - it’s exercised all of its reserve area, so there’s no more land,” said Palazzolo. “The city is very much a bedroom community with about 85 percent of the land mass is residential, and that’s not going to change.”

The remaining 15 percent is zoned commercial with much of that total in the central business district.

Memphis-based The Reaves Firm handled the engineering, planning, and landscape architecture on the project. Creating the drainage system for the property was critical in the design process. A combination of a wet basin and three underground tanks will “hold” excess runoff, according to Paul Bruns of the Design Review Commission.

If all goes well, construction could get started in the next eight to 12 months, and the center will be built all in one phase.

Read more articles by Michael Waddell.

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.
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