Developer proposes Poplar Arts Lofts in Midtown

By Published: December 05, 2018 10:06 PM CT

A developer proposes to demolish Poplar-fronting buildings being sold by the Memphis College of Art and erect a six-story, 120-unit apartment building there.

Other applications to the Land Use Control Board include two infill subdivisions in Midtown.

Poplar Arts Lofts would front Poplar between Tucker and Rembert, with five levels of apartment units above ground-level parking for 132 vehicles, according to a zoning application filed with the LUCB.

The development on nearly eight-tenths of an acre is proposed by Vince Smith, doing business as Poplar Arts Lofts LLC.

The connected buildings at 1935 Poplar, 1949 Poplar and 165 S. Rembert total 22,766 square feet, according to public records.

The buildings are among about a dozen properties Memphis College of Art has been selling as it prepares to close after its last graduating class in May 2020. The private art school is still headquartered north of Poplar in Rust Hall inside Overton Park.

The developer seeks approval for a planned development. As the property is now zoned, certain zoning provisions and bulk regulations limit opportunity and prohibit the best use of the property, the developer states in the application.

The buildings were erected as spaces for retail and apartments in 1920 and 1929, records show. Memphis College of Art has been using the space for student housing and administrative offices.

Poplar Arts Lofts would offer a pool, fitness facility, executive business center and rooftop terrace, the application states. In addition to the 132 ground-floor parking spaces in the podium-style building, another eight parking spaces would be on-street parking, the document states.

The proposed development reinforces “the Midtown District by facilitating new construction that is progressive, yet sensitive to the existing urban form, the scale, and the character of the neighborhood,’’ the letter of intent states.

Another developer seeks permission to redevelop the old Christie Cut Stone property, 2.4 acres at 2029 Elzey in Cooper-Young, into 18 lots no smaller than 3,200 square feet each.

The stone company had used the land to store stone, rock and concrete, the application states. The site has been vacant 10 years.

Elzey Partners, with an email address of, seeks approval for a planned development at the site, which is 334 feet west of Tanglewood. 

And Memphisfixerupper LLC seeks permission to redevelop 1.4 acres on the south side of Avery, just east of East Parkway, into 11 single-family lots of no less than 3,200 square feet each.

The site now has a vacant house and borders the elevated CSX rail tracks.

The 11 houses would be 2,100 to 2,500 square feet each, and each would have an enclosed garage, the document states.

“There is a proposed 15-foot landscape plate along Avery Avenue and two internal common areas to be utilized for neighborhood activities,’’ the application states. The development and its cul-de-sac would be private and maintained by a property owners association.

The Office of Planning & Development “has supported the redevelopment of existing large lots within the I-240 corridor as an appropriate approach to revitalizing the city to counter the effects of sprawl development,’’ the application states. “We feel this property to be a perfect candidate for infill developments.’’

The planning board will consider the proposals when it meets at 10 a.m. on Jan. 10 at City Hall.


Commercial Real Estate Land Use Control Board multifamily
Tom Bailey

Tom Bailey

Tom Bailey covers business news for The Daily Memphian. A Tupelo, Mississippi, native, he graduated from Mississippi State University. He's worked in journalism for 40 years and has lived in Midtown for 36 years.

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