Food 'Renaissance' Cooking On Highland Strip

One new restaurant opened this week and three more will soon serve food on the Highland Strip near the University of Memphis.

"Before the renaissance we had the same restaurants for 20 years,'' said Tk Buchanan of the University District. "Food has arrived in abundance.''

Those four new restaurants within Loeb Property's newly renovated Highland Strip are in addition to three restaurants that opened in recent months just a block north in the Highland Row development as well as the debut of a popular new fast-food restaurant a few blocks south of the Strip.

"The goal when you plan any community is to create opportunities to live, work and play as close to your home as humanly possible,'' said Buchanan, who is community liaison for the University District. "... That yields quality of life. When I have to leave this district for anything I act like it's killing me.''

Read more in the Commercial Appeal

Highland Strip music venue announces opening date

After an extensive renovation, the Highland Strip is ready to reveal its newest occupant.

The Bluff, a concert hall meets sports bar located at 535 S. Highland St. and adjacent to the new Newby’s, will open its doors Monday, Jan. 9, at 5 p.m.

Nickle Smith, Hudson Chadwick and Austin Wallace — owners of The Bluff — signed a lease for the tenant bay in April 2016 from Loeb Properties Inc. Chadwick also owns Rafters in Oxford, Mississippi.

Since signing the lease, the trio has transformed the space into an 8,000-square-foot venue complete with three bars — about 100 total linear feet of bar, to be exact — two outdoor patios, a main stage and more than 30 TVs for sporting events. One of the three bars is located on a mezzanine level overlooking the stage.

Read more in the Memphis Business Journal

Five Things to Look Forward to in 2017

1. “Sun Records” premieres: What could be the most significant made-in-Memphis television series, about the rise of Sam Phillips’ Sun Records and the Memphis portion of the birth of rock 'n' roll story, premieres on CMT on Feb. 23. It will be followed by a couple of notable Memphis music anniversaries: the 60th birthday for Stax Records and the 40th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death.

2. Crosstown Concourse opening: In a period of big projects from Bass Pro Pyramid out to Shelby Farms Heart of the Park, I’m not sure anything is as interesting, unlikely or potentially impactful as Crosstown Concourse, the “vertical urban village” at the former Sears building on Cleveland. It throws out the welcome mat on May 13. Some, though, are already moving in.

3. ServiceMaster moves Downtown: When ServiceMaster announced early last year that it would relocate its corporate headquarters to the empty former Peabody Place mall in Downtown Memphis, work began at the site pretty much immediately. Though no exact date has been set, they’re expected to move in this year, and bring more than 1,000 new employees into the Downtown core.

4. Highland Strip reborn: There was a lot of construction and activity on Highland in 2016, but 2017 looks to be when the redevelopment University of Memphis district main drag is ready for its close-up, with new businesses (bar/music venue The Bluff, Insomnia Cookies, a new location of local restaurant Petra Cafe), more apartments and streetscaping in concert with ongoing development around the university.

5. The North, the South and the West: ServiceMaster is a big deal at the heart of Downtown, but 2017 is shaping up to be a potentially transformative year for wider Memphis Downtown, with the beginnings of a mammoth and long overdue redevelopment of the Pinch to the north, the continuation of a recent surge of activity around the South Main Arts District and the Civic Commons project transforming Downtown’s “Fourth Bluff” to the west.

Read more in the Commercial Appeal

Highland Strip Looks to 2017 as Renaissance Year

2017 is shaping up to be a big year for Highland Strip, near the University of Memphis.

Millions of dollars in investments are revolutionizing the area and bringing in new businesses and excitement.

One of the newest additions to the strip is not open yet, but owners said it should be open in the next few weeks. The Bluff, a Cajun restaurant, sports bar, and live music spot will soon be open at 535 South Highland. “We kind of go for a more industrial, rustic feel,” general manager Jamie Irby said.

Gone are the dirt floors and baby blue walls that used to occupy the space. “We want to make this more of a destination for people--give them other options besides going downtown, besides going to Overton Square,” Irby said.

Read more at WMC-TV

See Inside: Highland Strip's new music venue

The Highland Strip is about to get a new music savvy tenant with an affinity for a good drink. The Bluff, a music venue/restaurant/bar combo will open at 535 S. Highland St. by mid-January.

Nickle Smith, Hudson Chadwick and Austin Wallace, owners of The Bluff, signed a lease with Loeb Properties Inc. for the tenant bay this past April. Since that time, they have transformed the empty shell into a concert hall complete with a mezzanine level, outdoor patio and 100 total linear feet of bar.

“We will have bands three to five nights a week,” Smith said. “[There will be] TVs everywhere. You will be able to see multiple TVs from every angle in here.”

Bands that perform at The Bluff will have their own greenroom and private bathroom.

“We definitely have had a lot of people contact us, but we haven’t booked anybody yet, just due to the fact that we haven’t set an opening date,” Smith said.

Read more in the Memphis Business Journal

City Council Vote to Focus On Highland Strip Project

Memphis City Council members vote Tuesday, Oct. 18, on an economic impact plan for the Highland Strip area that sets the stage for the tax increment financing district to finance infrastructure changes in the private development hot spot.

The council meets at 3:30 p.m. at City Hall, 125 N. Main St. Follow the meeting @tdnpols,, for live coverage and updates from committee sessions earlier in the council day.

The TIF area collects an increment of the increase in property taxes paid in a specific area through the increase in property value and dedicates that amount to public infrastructure improvements.

In the case of the University Neighborhood District, the area is 601 parcels along and near Highland Avenue on the western border of the University of Memphis campus. The property tax increment comes to an estimated $83 million going back into the district over a 20-year period, according to Mike Keaney, president of the University Neighborhood Development Corporation.

Read more in the Memphis Daily News

Cookie Delivery Service Coming to Highland Strip

Loeb Properties announced today that Insomnia Cookies, a company specializing in cookie and ice cream home delivery, will set up shop on the Highland Strip between Newby's and the upcoming Petra Cafe. Insomnia Cookies will offer delivery between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m..

According to multiple sources, several demurred, sleepy responses of, "Sweeeeet" could be heard from various students at the University of Memphis as word of the cookie chain's impending arrival traveled around campus. 

Read more in the Memphis Flyer

Petra Cafe coming to Highland Strip

The redeveloping Highland Strip is adding yet another restaurant, Petra Cafe.

Loeb Properties announced the Mediterranean restaurant will add a second Memphis location at 547 S. Highland. Petra Cafe now has a restaurant in Carrefour at Kirby Woods, 6641 Poplar.

At the Highland Strip, Petra Cafe will inhabit a 1,015-square-foot bay that is two doors down from Newby's pub bar. Construction is about to start and the restaurant should open by early next year, according to the landlord.

"They have a great reputation as a quality, longstanding Mediterranean restaurant,'' said Aaron Petree, vice president for brokerage at Loeb Properties.

"The appealing part is that they do a very heavy lunch business, which we'd like to see more of at the Highland Strip,'' Petree said.

Read more in the Commercial Appeal

Revitalization efforts to help Highland area

Construction, hiring signs and a newly opened restaurant make it clear, Highland Street appears to be growing.

"For someone my age, it's just nice to see this area coming back. It was really thriving at one point," Becky Amos told WREG Tuesday. It`s a revitalization effort being pushed by The Economic Development Growth Engine for Memphis and Shelby County.

The initiative means the Highland Strip will operate using redevelopment plans until 2037. For residents, that means constant growth throughout the next few decades. "We drove up and we are amazed at how much building and new stuff is going on."

John Colmer lives in Germantown, but decided to have lunch at Char, the new restaurant along the strip that just opened on Monday. "We are here to eat at Char. We wouldn`t have come otherwise."

Amos works at the University of Memphis and said bringing shopping, dining, and living together and packing it all into a one stop shop is a major draw for her campus.

Read more at WREG-TV

Memphis council committee OKs Highland Strip plan

A plan to boost development west of the University of Memphis campus received preliminary approval Tuesday from a City Council committee.

The Economic Development & Tourism Committee voted to endorse a plan to make the Highland Strip area a tax-increment financing (TIF) district, allowing a specially created corporation to collect additional property taxes for reinvestment into the district.

The resolution could receive final approval from the council Oct. 18.

The TIF district would capture an estimated $83.4 million over 20 years, 22.8 percent of which would be reinvested in the district by the Economic Development Growth Engine, according to a presentation to council last month. The rest of the money would go to the city and the county.

Read more in the Commercial Appeal

New restaurants coming to the Highland Strip

Vacant lots and empty structures currently dot the Highland Strip. Buildings sit uninhabited and sidewalks have fallen into disrepair.

“They could put more stores aimed at college students and clean it up,” Katheryne Wilkerson, sophomore pre-nursing major, said.

The University of Memphis recently supported an application by the University Neighborhoods Development Corporation to utilize tax revenue for improvements to the Highland Strip.

Some of the vacant lots will soon be filled with new restaurants including a fast-casual burger joint, a bakery that delivers cookies until 3 a.m. and a new music venue.

Read more in the Daily Helmsman

Israeli burger restaurant to open on Highland

Yesterday, it was all about the cookies. Today, it’s burgers.

A building permit was filed Wednesday, Sept. 14, for a new Insomnia Cookies location in the U of M area.

Thursday, Loeb Properties – developer of the Highland Strip – announced that it had signed Burgerim, an Israeli-based burger chain that sells mini burgers by the box.

Burgerim was founded in 2011 and has since spread around the globe. Customers can by a duo, trio or party box with 16 mini-burgers. Burgerim is known for its “always more than one” concept. Burger patties are 2.8 ounces each.

Read more in the Memphis Business Journal

Forget Big 12, Memphis may be in running for college cookies

There's about 90 of them in the U.S., including one on Cumberland Avenue in Knoxville, on Lamar in Oxford, on Cotton Mill in Starkville, on Chimes in Baton Rouge, on 11th in Birmingham, on University in Tuscaloosa, and on Hardy in Hattiesburg.

And now Insomnia Cookies has filed for a building permit that indicates possible plans to locate at 545 S. Highland on the Highland Strip.

That site cozies up to the University of Memphis just like those other Insomnia Cookies operate near the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, University of Mississippi, Mississippi State, LSU, University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of Alabama and University of Southern Mississippi.

The Memphis space is next door to the venerable Newby's pub.

The 16-year-old Insomnia Cookies was founded by offering students at the University of Pennsylvania a warm, sweet guilty pleasure for their late-night study breaks.

Read more in the Commercial Appeal

U of M trying to capitalize on Highland development

The University of Memphis is hoping to use increasing tax revenue from the area surrounding its campus to fund road and infrastructure improvements.

With new developments going up along Highland, the University of Memphis is working to turn the area into a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district.

Read more in the Memphis Business Journal

Improvements are coming to the Highland Strip

The University of Memphis is supporting an application by the University Neighborhoods Development Corporation that would improve the areas along the Highland Strip.

You can read the U of M proposal here: 

“It’s kind of dodgy,” sophomore Maya Benson said. “As you go on the other side of Highland and Southern, things get sketchy.”

The areas surrounding the university are full of empty lots and sidewalks that have fallen into disrepair. Some students agree the area would benefit from a facelift while others do not believe it’s decrepit or dangerous.

“It could definitely be better,” junior sports and leisure management major Stephen Rose said. “But they’re getting it where it needs to be.”

UNDC proposes that the redevelopment would attract new businesses and industries, which would increase property value and economic activity. Increased property taxes from such activity would fund future improvements to the university area with the remainder of the taxes going to the city and county.

Read more in the Daily Helmsman

County commissioners look at Highland Street project

Plans for the Highland Strip Improvement Project were presented to the Shelby County Commission on Wednesday by officials with the University Neighborhood Development Corp. and University of Memphis President David Rudd.

The project, which will eventually need Memphis City Council and commission approval, would utilize TIF or tax-increment financing, and garner the city and county $64 million over 20 years, Mike Kenney, UNDC chairman told the commission’s economic development and tourism committee.

Commissioners were supportive of the TIF project, which funds the ongoing development through increases in property tax revenues.

The development, Rudd said, enhances the university and makes the area more walkable and safe for students.

Read more in the Commercial Appeal

Highland Strip seeking aid to growth

Highland Strip boosters want to establish an economic development zone funded by property tax growth generated by the area's ongoing resurgence.

The University Neighborhood Development Corp. proposes to include 601 tax parcels on or near Highland between Poplar and Park in a University District-Highland Row tax increment-financing or TIF district.

A TIF district, which would require Memphis City Council and Shelby County Commission approval, would divert a portion of increased city and county property taxes into improvements within the  district.

The Economic Development Growth Engine of Memphis and Shelby County has scheduled an Aug. 17 public hearing on a proposed economic development plan supporting the University District-Highland Row TIF. EDGE published a public notice about the TIF this week and has a map available at its offices.

"We think we've got a compelling case, especially with the University of Memphis behind us and working in concert with the university and the surrounding neighborhoods," said development corporation president Mike Keeney.

Read more in the Commercial Appeal

Storied University of Memphis Railroad Right Of Way To Become Safer, Greener

"When classes resume at the University of Memphis in August, the unofficial campus tradition of crossing the railroad tracks along Southern Avenue will change. Students on foot will no longer be able to cross just anywhere along the 2,000 feet of track between Patterson and Zach Curlin.

There will be a five-foot high iron fence on both sides of the Norfolk Southern right of way and three new pedestrian and bicycle crossings. They replace six existing, outdated and largely forgotten pedestrian crossings.

“The students will no longer be able to just freelance across the track like they’ve been doing since 1912,” said landscape architect Ritchie Smith, whose firm designed the $1.8 million project. “The students will be guided and funneled into these three crossings.”

Read more in the Memphis Daily News

Loeb Looking to Build Homes Near University of Memphis

"Loeb Properties has a piece of University of Memphis-area land under contract for purchase and the eventual construction of single-family homes.

The vacant land faces Ellsworth Street between Midland and Central avenues and was intended for townhomes as part of the Highland Row project.

Indiana-based developer Milhaus Ventures planned 35 townhomes on the west side of the development to complement the 354 apartments and 32,000 square feet of commercial space. Milhaus gained approval from the city-county Office of Planning and Development to build the townhouses but never broke ground. Construction of the greater Highland Row development is expected to continue into next spring.

Single-family construction is a departure for Loeb Properties, a local developer that many associate with the vibrant retail and entertainment areas.

Matt Prince, senior vice president of brokerage and development, said that Loeb was drawn to the site because of the hot residential demand in the area."

Read more in the Memphis Daily News

See Inside: The Bluff on the Highland Strip

Extreme makeover Highland Strip edition is in full swing, and one of its future tenants plans to bring a piece of the Big Easy to the Bluff City.

In April, news broke that a new music venue and Cajun-inspired restaurant titled The Bluff had signed a lease at 535 S. Highland St., and now the owners are serving up their plans.

“When I came here, I was looking for another concept,” said Nickle Smith, one of the three owners of The Bluff. “I thought the space was so cool; me and Hudson [Chadwick] linked up; and here we are today.”

Smith, Chadwick and Austin Wallace are the three people behind the future music hall, restaurant and sports bar mashup. Chadwick also owns Rafters Music and Food and The Corner Bar in Oxford, Mississippi.

Read more in the Memphis Business Journal