Downtown Memphis Commission
Sugar Services (top) could get a makeover and 101 Main Street (bottom) could be the new, temporary home for the Blue Suede Brigade.
Sugar Services could get a whole new look and a new feel for pedestrians as a proposal for the South End industrial site would help blend it in with its residential surroundings.
The South End Alliance (SEA) has requested $23,6000 from the Center City Development Corp. (CCDC), a board of the Downtown Memphis Commission (DMC), for a project that would “better screen the industrial use [at Sugar Services] and improve the pedestrian experience on adjacent sidewalks” around the corner of Tennessee and G.E. Patterson.
Sugar Services was founded in Downtown Memphis in 1969. The company creates sugar products for soft drink manufacturers, bakeries, dairy companies, ice cream manufacturers, and cereal makers, according to its website. It also delivers its products to its customers from three distribution sites, including Downtown Memphis.
SEA has partnered wth the DMC before on projects to add public art around the South End and add pedestrian lighting to two underpasses in the area. The group now wants to extend an existing privacy fence along the western edge of the Sugar Services site, paint all of the perimeter fencing, and commission an artist to install a mural on the building at the northwest corner of the site.
The CCDC will vote on the proposal during its net meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 21.
DMC staffers approve of the project, according to DMC documents, “as a way of strengthening pedestrian connections and improving walkability in the neighborhood.”
“The Sugar Services property is not only adjacent to residential development, the site is prominently visible by pedestrians traveling to and from the Bluff Walk, South Main businesses, and the Memphis Farmer’s Market,” reads the staff review of the project. “The Tennessee Brewery redevelopment and the new Malco Theater are also in the vicinity.”
A section of the Sugar Services website called “your Downtown Memphis neighbor” says it is working with the DMC “to be the best neighbor we can be in the ever-evolving and changing residential Historic Main Street Arts District.”
In 2011, it says, the company spent $1 million to install a new, quieter sucrose conversion system, fences, and flower beds around its site.
“We have repainted our facility and are committed to making additional improvements to be the best Downtown Memphis neighbor we can be,” reads the site.
The DMC wants to temporarily turn the vacant storefront at 101 South Main into a “multi-use space” that could be the home base for the Blue Suede Brigade, a space for pop-up retail, and more.
The DMC proposes to lease the space, which sits just across Main from Aldo’s Pizza, for four months. The Brigade could use it to welcome visitors and distribute information about Downtown restaurants, businesses, and attractions.
The space's most-recent tenant was Peacock Travel.
It could also play host to a brown-bag, lunchtime concert series. Also, retailers could install temporary shops in the space. Local groups could also use the space for concerts, black box theater, art shows, and stand-up comedy.
The price tag to rent the space is $10,000 and the DMC staff recommends the project as it is a “relatively low-cost, but aggressive way to activate a vacant storefront along a key section of the Main Street Mall.”
“Besides providing a well-positioned location for our fall and winter programming, this space also allows the DMC to test the idea of a stationary location for the Blue Suede Brigade and the DMC’s hospitality program,” reads the project’s DMC application. “Moreover, having the space available for pop-up retail will serve as an invaluable learning opportunity should the DMC wish to use pop-up shops in the future as a strategy for addressing vacancy in the Downtown Core.”
CCDC members will vote on the project Wednesday. Should they approve it, DMC staffer project opening the space in October and closing it in January.