$225M One Beale riverfront development to open with hotel, apartments, dining

Plans for the One Beale riverfront redevelopment project have changed many times over the past 15 years as developers adapted to construction challenges and unstable economic conditions.

With the addition early last year of a critical piece of property, the historic Ellis Machine Shop at the west end of Beale Street, developer Carlisle LLC revived the $225 million project and now plans to start construction by early next year.

“We’ve tried to keep it neighborhood friendly and skyline changing,” said Chance Carlisle, CEO of Carlisle, LLC. “It certainly will be dramatically different.”

The $130 million first phase will include a 227-room Hyatt Centric hotel, 227 apartments, two signature restaurants with riverfront views, retail space, and a 475-spot parking garage. The second phase will include the development of 200,000 to 400,000 square feet of Class A office.

Carlisle’s late father, Gene Carlisle, began redeveloping the riverfront area nearly 40 years ago with what is now the MLGW Garage at 236 South Front Street, which was originally named the Beale Street Landing Garage.

“Through multiple iterations and decades, we’ve always thought the sports and entertainment district should connect to the riverfront,” said Carlisle.

The land acquisition from Ellis & Sons increased the project’s size from two acres to 5.5 acres, dramatically changing the overall design. Now, the new hotel will sit atop the bluff sloping toward the river, with the office space, residential buildings and a restaurant planned for the adjacent land below and to the west.

Plans for One Beale date back to 2003, when a straight line wind storm known as Hurricane Elvis demolished what was then the Carlisle Landing office buildings on Front Street.

“That really jumpstarted the redevelopment of the property,” said Carlisle.

The original proposal around that time called for a large mixed-use, 1 million-square-foot tower with a subterranean parking garage on one acre. Seismic requirements resulted in multiple design phases, pushing the timeline to 2007. By then the market had changed, so project designers went back to the drawing board to create a mixed-use twin tower concept with a residential condo component.

Then the Great Recession hit.

“We were fortunate to not be under construction when hit by the Great Recession,” said Carlisle. “So we mothballed the condominiums as the housing crisis set in, and then we mothballed the whole development when we realized we going to have a hard time keeping the hotel full.”

By 2011, the project was renewed as an apartment tower with some office space that still resembled a twin tower design. The seismic bug struck again, however, and by 2015 it was decided that the site seismically could not safely support a Type A1 podium concrete development with subterranean parking.

Carlisle took over redevelopment of the Chisca Hotel during that span, so the One Beale project was again mothballed until last year when the Ellis family decided to sell their property, which they had owned since the mid-1800s. The biggest impediments to the project in years past had been that the Ellis family still owned and operated their business from the buildings near the project's proposed site.

That acquisition allowed the developer to master plan the site and paved the way to have parking above-ground yet hidden from site from the riverfront.

“What has always snake bit us was the parking solution,” said Carlisle. “It’s just prohibitively expensive to build subterranean parking in downtown Memphis. People always asked ‘what’s the density look like?’ or ‘what’s the skyline changing features?’ because our twin towers had gone away. While it’s true that they are mid-rise structures now instead of high-rise buildings, it’s a bit deceiving because they’re there to hide the garage, which no one wants to see on the bluff.”

Carlisle will develop mixed-use residential apartment component with 227 apartments, 15,000 square feet of office space, and 10,000 square feet of riverfront restaurant space, where local restaurateurs Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman will create a riverfront restaurant.

The full-service, four-star Hyatt Centric hotel will include 15,000 square feet of conference and meeting space on Beale Street, and will include the renovation of two of the buildings of the Ellis Machine Shops into part of its conference center.

"It's really a hotel that caters to people who want to explore the city," said Mark Weaver, principal at HBG Design and lead architectural designer for the hotel at One Beale. "The mission all along has been to create a unique project for Memphis. So we're trying to incorporate history and context for the site that we're on, which is the old Ellis Machine Shops."

The new nine-story Hyatt hotel will also include a signature restaurant with a view overlooking the river and bridge, an outdoor pool plaza and a rooftop bar with views of Downtown and the Mississippi River.

"It will be unlike anything in Memphis currently, with great panoramic views of the river and Downtown," said Weaver. "The hotel is a bit scaled down from previously, but this building will still be very prominent on the skyline at the foot of Beale Street. We're excited to see the project move forward."

Hyatt Hotels will be a 50 percent joint venture owner of the hotel and manage the hotel through a long-term management agreement.

The hotel was separated from the multifamily units to make way for an office tower, which will be developed as part of Phase 2 by Highwoods Properties. Plans call for 200,000 to 400,000 square feet of Class A office space, and Highwoods

Memphis-based HBG Design created the hotel designs, and Studio Architects handled the multifamily designs for the project. General contractors will be selected by end of this year. Completion of the first phase is expected by late 2020.

Highwood Properties will develop the office building in the second phase, and the developer is working with the Memphis Chamber of Commerce and Carlisle to secure an anchor tenant.

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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.