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Local developer plans apartments, retail, hotel for Fairgrounds site

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The City of Memphis announced Tuesday the team that will be working to redevelop the Memphis Fairgrounds with retail, a hotel and possibly hundreds of apartment units.

The mixed-use project will be led by local developer and former University of Memphis football player James Maclin of M&M Enterprises and Belpointe REIT.

“We’ve been working on this project for a while now, and I’m so pleased to have local talent stepping up and helping the City to transform this important piece of property,” Mayor Jim Strickland said. “The underutilized Fairgrounds will be reimagined into a unique sports and entertainment destination for both
Memphians and visitors.”

The team will be focusing on an 18-acre area along Central Avenue north of Tiger Lane and Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. In this section, the team will build a 30,000-square-foot retail space and a hotel with at least 80 rooms to meet the needs of those visiting these attractions.

Maclin, who responded by email Tuesday, said there could be anywhere from 150-500 apartment units at the Fairgrounds, depending on market and phasing.

"This project creates yet another opportunity for us to create another great 'place' for Memphians to learn, live, work, and play. This is about 'place-making,'" Maclin said. "In addition, the better and more 'places' we have, the more attractive the city becomes to other employers and employees from other areas."

Maclin's company also is involved in developments along Madison, Broad Avenue and at the former Racquet Club.

He said the Fairgrounds redevelopment will be similar to other projects in the city that are benefiting the community by increasing home and business values, which leads to more property tax revenues and jobs, allowing local government to provide more and better services for the citizens.

The city said this part of the Fairgrounds project will be privately funded.

In a separate project, the city said they will be developing a new sports and events complex that will focus on indoor sports such as volleyball, basketball, cheer, gymnastics, wrestling and indoor track and field. That facility is set to open in 2021.

"The point of the private development at the Fairgrounds is to provide retail, hotel and restaurants in support of the youth sports complex the city will be developing on the southwest portion of the Fairgrounds site," said Mary Claire Borys, project manager with the city's division of Housing and Community Development.

"Hopefully some new funding will emerge that will allows us to either remodel, re-purpose or re-something with the Coliseum," she said.

Borys said the city intends to own the section of the Fairgrounds, and work with private developers on "some sort of ground lease or long-term lease."

The full investment will total $150 million, including private and public funds.

The Fairgrounds is part of what's called an Opportunity Zone, where investors can receive certain tax incentives. It includes sections of Orange Mound and areas around the University of Memphis.

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