Partial re-development planned for Poplar Plaza, some neighbors worried


MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The owners of Poplar Plaza Shopping Center at Poplar and Highland are planning retail and apartments on the southeast corner of the property.

Poplar Plaza has called Poplar and Highland home since 1952.

Businesses have come and gone, and what was originally Lowenstein’s Department Store, the anchor for the once thriving busy shopping center, now sits vacant.

Now, owners of the property want to demolish part of the shopping center to make way for retail, parking and apartments.

The concept gets a thumbs up from Nathanael Smith, who lives nearby.

“I do think a ‘mixed use’ space is really valuable,” Smith said. “I’m thinking like the Crosstown Concourse is a really nice space, and we enjoy going there. So, it would be great to have something like that near our house, rather than an empty building that’s ‘for rent.'”

Smith voiced his support for the project at Thursday’s meeting of the Memphis and Shelby County Land Use Control Board.

Smith also says he sees no reason why developers shouldn’t be allowed to build to a height of 78 feet, 30 feet higher than allowed in this commercial mixed-use zone.

The Land Use Control Board approved the “special exception” by a unanimous vote.

But homeowners in the Red Acres neighborhood east of the shopping center say the project raised a couple of red flags.

“Whenever there is a zoning issue, we . . .that always gets our attention, whenever someone wants to do . . . is seeking to do something that is not in keeping with the current zoning,” said Jim Taylor, Red Acres Neighborhood Association president.

Taylor says while folks here aren’t opposed to new retail and apartments, there are big concerns about the traffic it will certainly bring.

“Right there across from where these buildings will be,” Taylor said. “Our concern is that will potentially add to the cars on the road here that are cutting through the neighborhood.”

The Land Use Control Board approved the special exception by a unanimous vote.

We reached out to the owners of Poplar Plaza for a comment, but they’ve not yet returned our calls.

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