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The Lake District: News, Updates & Insights

Yehuda Netanel walks along the front of phase one retail locations in The Lake District on July 21, 2021. File photo.

by Matt Wright

Yehuda Netanel was sitting under an umbrella outside the Starbucks at The Lake District seeking shade from the hot Lakeland sun. I met Mr. Netanel, the developer of The Lake District, for a property tour and update on the expansive mixed-use project this morning, July 21, 2021.

“Enjoying relaxing out here on the patio?” I asked. “It’s only temporary,” the developer quipped. He is always on the move around the property, either walking or driving, so seeing him sitting down was unique, but yes, only temporary. He said the more they get along in the massive project, the more he sees what needs to be done. And that’s what makes The Lake District special according to Mr. Netanel. “Even though we were fighting innovation and creativity every step of the way from some of the leaders in Lakeland, not all, but a couple of them, we persevered.” He’s happy he pushed past those issues so the development can come to fruition as he envisioned it saying, “as you can already see, this is special.”

Unique lights along with plenty of patio dining area (seen here outside the future Villa Castrioti) are small examples of what makes The Lake District so special according to the developer.

To provide an example of creating something so unique in Shelby County, Mr. Netanel said they are bringing in special Magnolia trees later this month that have yellow, pink, and red blooms, instead of the traditional white. “That’s just a small way to symbolize what’s original and refreshing about The Lake District,” he said.

Retail Updates

“We are officially 98% leased for Phase One,” Mr. Netanel told me. “We have one bay left for Phase One and we are talking to multiple businesses about that location,” he added. Some of the latest businesses that have signed leases include some wellness related businesses and Mr. Netanel hopes to make announcements about that shortly. He also said The Lake District is close to announcing a new furniture store that will be located in the development. “It’s a very upscale furniture store and it will be the only one in Shelby County,” he said.

Inside Gloss Nail Bar.

As we toured the property buildings, Mr. Netanel pointed out how nice the outside of the buildings are, but he made a point to say the interior of the shops and restaurants will be just as stunning. “The inside of Villa Castrioti is an amazing design, it will be just as nice, if not nicer, than any of the upscale restaurants in downtown Memphis.” While touring the inside of the future home of Gloss Nail Bar, he pointed out the delicate construction work already being performed. “Gloss will be the largest and most luxurious nail salon in Shelby County,” said Mr. Netanel. He said they will have close to one million in construction costs to complete the inside of the nail spa. Even The Stock Market, the upscale grocery store in The Lake District, will be first-class according to Mr. Netanel. “There’s $650,000 of mechanical work under the concrete in The Stock Market alone,” he said.

MLGW Delays

As we toured the property, Mr. Netanel’s frustration with MLGW (Memphis Light Gas and Water) was apparent. “We’re delayed because it takes so long for MLGW to complete the work we need.” He said he submitted a request for a simple water design 4 months ago, essentially a drawing of where a water line will go on the back of the property, but MLGW has not responded as of yet. “That stops us from beginning work on certain areas of the property,” Mr. Netanel said. He also said there’s still no power or water run to the existing retail buildings which has delayed most retailers from starting construction inside their bays. “The ones that don’t want to wait anymore have to use generators to power construction equipment inside the buildings,” Mr. Netanel said. While some MLGW employees were out working on the property today, others were resting inside their trucks for the time we were on location. Mr. Netanel claims that is a daily occurrence. “Sometimes they get pulled off for an emergency, which I understand, but many times there’s no work performed and no explanation is given.” Frustrated he said, “I don’t want to rock the boat (speaking about MLGW), I want to sink it.” Lakeland Currents reached out to a media support email address for MLGW with questions but as of the writing of this story, we have not received a response.

An MLGW employee rests in his truck at 10:45am. Mr. Netanel expressed frustration with MLGW delays.

Next Steps

Dirt work on the section for The Willows Townhomes is nearing completion and Mr. Netanel hopes to start trenching for the plumbing and electrical on the first cluster of homes sometime in the next couple of weeks. A “cluster” of townhomes will be 4 to 6 units and the first cluster will all be model homes with different stylings. He also hopes curbs will go in soon on that section of the property. He pointed out a large section of trees that were brought in to start creating a buffer between the townhomes and the retail section of the development. “We’ve brought in 700 trees already and planted them around the property, but when we are complete it will be six times as many.”

The future site of The Willows Townhomes at The Lake District.

Work to create the large lake that will run thru the property is also underway. There are currently three small lakes on the property but when the work is complete it will become one large lake that is much wider and deeper than the existing lakes on the property. “The lake will be beautiful when complete,” Mr. Netanel said. He talked about a hotel overlooking the lake and his dream of making The Lake District the wedding event center of Shelby County. “We will have a beautiful hotel overlooking a lake, restaurants, shopping venues, everything needed for an event like a wedding,” he said.

Work to connect three lakes on the property to make it one large lake is underway.

The Lake District’s Number One Fan

As I was leaving, Mr. Netanel pointed out a small SUV parked in the gas station overlooking the development. He said, “Do you see the man in that SUV? He’s our number one fan, he’s here every day. You should talk to him.” I took Mr. Netanel up on his advice and drove over to the SUV and knocked on the window. I explained I was with Lakeland Currents and that he’d been recognized as the number one fan of The Lake District. The man, both embarrassed and surprised at the same time, said his name was Larry Godwin. Mr. Godwin said he started coming almost every day “just to kill time” when the project started. He told me his wife is in a nursing home and this was a good way for him to kill some time and he enjoyed seeing the progress.  

I hope Mr. Godwin gets to enjoy a nice meal at The Lake District this fall for being such a loyal “customer” already.

Larry Godwin comes most every day to watch the progress of The Lake District.