In a meeting held at city hall on Thursday afternoon, members of the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, Lakeland EDC (Economic Development Commission) Board members and city staff including City Manager Jim Atkinson met to discuss updates on the Lake District project. In attendance was Shawn Massey from The Shopping Center Group.
In what was described as a very productive meeting by Chamber President Wil Ashworth, the group received updates on the massive new mixed used project replacing the old factory outlet mall location. Mr. Ashworth said: “Shawn is an expert in the retail field and we are lucky he’s involved to make this project a success.”
The Shopping Center Group works directly with the project developer to find and recruit retailers for The Lake District. This includes large anchor stores, boutique shops, restaurants and much more.
In April 2016, California-based developer Gilad Development Corp. and local design firm A2H revealed plans for the 160+ acre Lake District. The presentation was made to a standing-room-only crowd at Stonebridge Golf Club. Yehuda Netanel is president of Gilad.
The project is one of the largest in the history of Shelby County and the dirt work alone (nearly 1 million cubic yards) will take 9 to 12 months to complete. Even with the size of the project, much progress has already been made and some major tenant announcements can be expected in the next 4 to 6 months. Some of these Mr. Massey expects to create major news for the area, including the high likelihood of a 30,000 to 40,000 sq ft. organic type grocery store that is currently not in the Memphis market. Ongoing discussions are also occurring with several upscale retailers, some of which are not in the Memphis market as well as several entertainment options. “I’m highly confident we will have a Cinema Cafe where you can eat a meal and watch a movie, something very unique to the area. ‘Dinnertainment’ is something we are focused on. I’ve also had great feedback from many local restaurants that want to come together as a cluster, meaning 4 or 5 together. They understand being together is better than being separate, much like you see at Overton Square.” A “programmer” will even be hired after completion to program events for the Lake District such as concerts, street festivals, lectures, etc. to continually promote and draw new crowds.
Those close to the project expect to draw a regional audience of which 60% will come from a 20 to 50 mile radius. Mr. Massey was adamant in saying Lakeland is a “good market that is growing and the recent bond issuance to build the school (and purchase the land for the high school) was a big draw to developers.” Why a draw? Mr. Massey answered by saying, “Because developers want to invest their money where others are investing money.”
Discussions are also ongoing with local builders and developers for the residential side of The Lake District where Mr. Massey expects homes to be in the $350,000 range. One “well known” coffee shop has already committed, and many other amenities including a day care center and special medical facilities that specialize in things like skin care should be part of the final tenant list.
Matt Wright, board member of the EDC, attended the meeting and came away even more convinced the TIF approval for The Lake District was the best decision that could be made. “When you see the current numbers we discussed in the meeting today, I’m reassured Lakeland’s in a strong position to be a serious player in Shelby County. Memphis is a hot market right now with over a billion dollars in construction and we’re going to take advantage of this market to create demand.” As Wright said, “this is not just good for Lakeland, this is good for Bartlett, Arlington and Lakeland. Germantown has Saddle Creek, Collierville has Carriage Crossing and now we’re going to give the Northeast part of Shelby County an upscale destination that positions us to attract even more residents and retailers as the next decade unfolds. It’s very exciting to say the least.”
Related Article: Why The Lake District Is Important By Mayor Bunker