Yesterday, WBIR ran a piece about downtown development that I thought was helpful, surprising in some ways and at least narrow in focus, if not biased in other ways. A very positive story, as one would expect from WBIR, and much of the news is exciting, but some of what they said left me scratching my head a bit. You can watch the entire video here.
The information was completely centered on an interview with David Dewhirst. His comments left no question that he thinks downtown is a special place. He said he is trying to expand the borders of downtown to connect to nearby neighborhoods and that certainly seems to be the case. One of the oddities of the story was that the reporter acted as if the Dewhirst projects were the only projects happening downtown, which obviously isn’t accurate.
She also said that the report would include some projects that they (WBIR) had previously mentioned and some that they had just learned about. I’m not sure which of these came as a surprise to WBIR. The most recent announcement was that the Standard Glass Building on Jackson would be an event venue, but Josh Flory reported that nearly two months ago. The venue should be ready for use later this spring, giving Jackson Avenue a different type of activity.
The main focus of the story, however, was on residential development, with a little retail thrown in. The Armature Building was prominently discussed. It’s just behind the corner of Gay and Jackson on Jackson. I’ve featured it before. Never mentioned was the Three Feathers Building which is on that corner and which will soon house Nouveau Classics. I’m not sure if they were including it in the Armature discussion or not. They did state that the Armature Building includes 80,000 square feet and that it will yield 76 new residential units and five retail spaces. The retail space portion of that surprised me and delights me. That’s five potential new businesses on Jackson Avenue. A completion date of May was mentioned.
Also mentioned was the White Lily Building which I featured here over a year ago. The report indicated the White Lily project will yield fifty new residences, but completion of these units is likely a year away. A final hurdle, however, was cleared just this week with an agreement worked out with the city council involving the project. This building does stretch the boundaries of what is considered downtown.
Of course, the Arnstein Building received some focus with Mr. Dewhirst announcing that the bottom two floors have officially been turned over to Urban Outfitters and the store should open, “a few months from now.” The upper floors will be divided between office space and residential.
So, with the Armature Building’s 76 new residences and the White Lily’s 50 new residences, that 126 new living spaces. The number for the Arnstein wasn’t mentioned, but the total coming online from Mr. Dewhirst was given as 160. Mr. Dewhirst stated that his company represents over 300 units downtown which are currently completely filled and people are “turned away every day.”
The reporter presented this as a total coming for downtown, but as I’ve mentioned here, there will be residences at 36 Market Square, there will be residences in Tailor Lofts and there will be something around seventy residences in the Medical Arts Building by the end of the year. This makes probably an additional one hundred units. Taken together with the 160 Dewhirst units, that means probably 600 to 750 new downtown residents – in new homes of which we are currently aware. For a small downtown population like ours, that is very significant and will have a retail ripple, as well.