What The Future Holds For Peabody Place Mall

(Memphis) Peabody Place was once considered the premier retail and entertainment center in downtown Memphis.

Years after closing its doors, the downtown mall, which once even housed WREG’s Live at 9 satellite studios, is now a vacant place.

But the Center City Revenue Finance Corporation Board, a state-chartered industrial development board, took a small step to help the mall’s owners with refinancing today.

Paul Morris is president of the Downtown Memphis Commission.

“The Center City Revenue Finance Corporation Board this morning approved the refinancing of the Peabody Place Center,” Morris said.

Jay Campbell is counsel for the Center City Revenue Finance Corporation Board.

“It’s like refinancing your house. A new bank is in place providing financing to the project,” Campbell said.

So, what’s the future for this now empty building, which is located on prime real estate right behind the Peabody Hotel and near FedExForum and Beale Street?

Board members didn’t tackle that issue Tuesday, but they’ve heard the different ideas for redevelopment.

“People have suggested possibly turning it back into retail. Well, I’d be for that, but unfortunately the national market says enclosed malls are completely out of fashion.”

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton is proposing a new plan. He’s been discussing the possibility of turning the mall into a convention conference center.

“This is a new idea that would distinguish Memphis from a lot of other cities and we’d have this modern boutique conference center that would be able to host other conferences, big conferences, Autozone and others,” Morris said.

A few years ago there was also talk of the mall being converted into luxury Peabody Hotel suites. However, Belz Enterprises stopped construction on the $74 million project during the recession.

But some think a convention conference center is what’s needed for Memphis.

“That would drive more business to Memphis and more tourists Memphis and provide more jobs, more service sector jobs,” Morris said.