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100 N. Main revitalization project in the works

The hope is to have a plan by late 2021/early 2022
Updated: Jun. 15, 2021 at 6:15 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - From a distance, the Memphis skyline is a picturesque sight.

Up close, however, its tallest building at 100 N. Main Street is a bit of an eyesore. The thirty-seven story structure has been vacant since 2015 and has quickly spiraled into a state of disrepair.

In late March, the Downtown Memphis Commission (DMC) stepped in to change that.

“If not us, then who?” said Brett Roler, DMC’s VP of Planning and Development.

DMC, along with their affiliate the Downtown Mobility Authority, purchased the property using the Pilot Extension Fund, which is a fund used to pay for public infrastructure.

It’s also a fund that requires city council, county commission, city mayor and county mayor approval.

“For the first time, we’ve got an owner through the Downtown Memphis Commission and the city and the county that care, first-and-foremost, about the public interest and what’s good for the community, and we’re not going to be looking at the deal the same way a developer would, who is profit-motivated,” Roler said.

On Tuesday, DMC sent out a request for proposal (RFP) to companies who may be interested in taking on a revitalization project.

Roler gave WMC a tour through ten stories of 100 N. Main and described what he and his team are looking for in a potential contractor.

“Show us that you have the ability to get the equity and the debt together to do a complex commercial project like this. Show us projects that you’ve done in the past. This is not a good project for a first-time developer. This is a complex, likely expensive project,” said Roler.

A project like this could easily cost $150 million, according to Roler, but he wouldn’t be surprised if it would go higher than that.

The project would also impact more than just the thirty-seven floor structure.

“The site is actually two full acres,” Roler pointed out. “It’s everything in between Jefferson, Adams, Main Street, and 2nd.”

Demolition was considered, where costs for that would range from $4-$10 million, but Roler said it’s dependent upon how the building is demolished.

“If it’s imploded, that’s likely to be cheaper,” said Roler. “If it has to be taken down in a more laborious, ‘hand-disassembled and dropped down the elevator shaft,’ that would take a lot longer to do and would likely be more expensive.”

However, Roler seemed to lean more toward preserving the building and seeing the true potential of this historic building.

“It could be all apartment, part apartments and part hotel. We really want to see the developers’ vision for activating not just the historic tower but all 2 acres of the property,” said Roler.

100 N. Main was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2015.

Proposal submissions are due by August 31, and Roler says his best case scenario is having a finalist selected and a preliminary plan drawn by late 2021/early 2022.

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