CarreFour gets initial endorsement on plan that could revise Germantown's western border

By Published: October 03, 2018 2:19 PM CT

Redevelopment of CarreFour at Kirby Woods near Germantown’s western gateway received its initial blessing from the suburb’s Planning Commission this week, setting in motion a possible new look to the city’s border along Poplar.

The project – a large mixed-use infill development – will include upscale street-level retail, restaurants and entertainment, along with premier Class A office space, under the plans submitted by Cannon, Austin & Cannon, the owners of the property. 

To allay the fears of some residents, applicants emphasized no apartments are included in the plans.

“If all goes well, we’re hoping to possibly be under construction by summer of 2019,” said Nelson Cannon, the company’s vice president. “The shopping center for a long time has been in functional obsolescence.” 

The Kirby Woods Mall opened as an enclosed mall in the early 1970s with tenants like Casual Corner, Wolf Brothers and JoS. A. Bank. By the late ‘80s, the mall was struggling and was sold to what is now Cannon, Austin & Cannon in 1989. The new owners redesigned the property to a more open shopping center and brought in Borders Books as an anchor tenant.  

“The update was very successful until our last recession, which coupled with the continued rise of e-commerce, has altered the retail landscape, especially for the brick-and-mortar format,” said Cannon. 

Since 2013, the developer has worked on new designs for the center on the southwest corner of Poplar and Kirby Parkway, and it has undergone several changes. 

“Based on market and political conditions, we feel the proposed outline plan (Tuesday night) best fits the current market conditions,” said Cannon. 

The proposed CarreFour at the Gateway is envisioned with 100,000 square feet of retail space, including 25,000 to 30,000 square feet for dining options along with 430,000 square feet of office space, two 120-room hotels, and more than 1,400 parking spaces consisting of both surface and structured parking. 

The site also would have a 16,000-square-foot civic space for activities like black-and-white movie nights, ice skating, seasonal events and live music. 

The commission unanimously voted to approve the outline plan. 

“I think this is a good project for the city,” said Chairman Mike Harless. “It’s based on our 2030 forward plan and continues to support the need to keep our taxes low and keep our city safe.” 

The commission’s site plan approval essentially applies to the phasing of the plan and the positioning of the buildings in relation to the city’s Smart Growth code. 

“The outline plan is the first step for any large mixed-use development moving forward within our Smart Growth areas,” said Cameron Ross, Germantown economic and community development director. “This is same process that we followed for Thornwood and TraVure, as well as for other projects that are no longer moving forward.” 

CarreFour is located in the city’s west Poplar Avenue gateway area and sits within a 58-acre commercial area. In 2014, the property was rezoned as T5 and T6 under the city’s new Smart Growth codes, allowing for a mixture of uses and structures reaching up to 10 stories high. 

Last month at a neighborhood meeting held at the shopping center, a contingent of citizens expressed their concerns over the possibility of apartments in the project. 

“That’s not going to happen,” said Cannon. “Everything is driven by market and political conditions. Like with the project’s office component, we can’t build it unless we pre-lease a large part of it.”  

Germantown is currently in the midst of an 18-month moratorium – which runs until next summer – on multifamily development. 

The only opposition to the project voiced at the Planning Commission meeting came from two citizens against installing a traffic light on Kirby Parkway between Poplar Avenue and Poplar Pike. They believe the signal will cause more traffic issues in an already busy area. 

The one-story portion of the shopping center currently facing Poplar Avenue will remain in place and receive façade improvements. Phase 1 construction will concentrate on the site’s northeast corner, where Macaroni Grill sat for many years before burning down in 2014. 

The redeveloped center is expected to generate nearly $1 million per year in property taxes. 

Cannon does not anticipate any changes to the plan before final approval. 

“Under T5 and T6, there are a litany of uses that are allowed within the code itself that (the developer) has the opportunity to use depending on the market conditions as they see those when they come in for final plan approval,” said Ross, who believes the Poplar Avenue corridor from Interstate 240 the Germantown city limits is poised to be similar to the thriving Peachtree district in the Atlanta/Buckhead area. 

The developer will go before the Board of the Mayor and Alderman for concept approval later this month or in November.  



Germantown Smart Growth CarreFour at Kirby Woods Planning Commission
Michael Waddell

Michael Waddell

Michael Waddell is a native Memphian with more than 20 years of professional writing and editorial experience, working most recently with The Daily News and High Ground News.

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