The long-vacant building at 100 North Main may have a new future as the city's convention center hotel with at least 500 rooms, meeting spaces, restaurants, retail, and more.
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland announced Thursday that he signed a letter of intent with Loews Hotel Holding Corp. and THM Memphis Acquisitions LLC to develop the building and some of the properties around it.
“This project, if realized, would be two major steps forward — both with a new convention center hotel and the reimagining of a historic property,” Strickland said in a statement. “This could represent a major investment in Downtown — which means a major investment in all of Memphis with new jobs and more economic growth from which all Memphians will benefit.”
A more formal agreement is expected between the parties in the coming months.
However, the private partners requested the city pay for a portion of the project. To get there, the partners want local officials to seek a tax increment finance (TIF) deal from the state and to get some of the city’s funds from an existing Tourism Development Zone (TDZ).
Developers also want a 20-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes deal with the Memphis Center City Revenue Corp., a board of the Downtown Memphis Commission (DMC).
The developers also want to develop a parking garage at 80 N Main and want a long-term, low-interest lease from the Downtown Parking Authority, also a DMC board, to build it.
As for the hotel itself, here’s all the letter says about it:
“The hotel shall be built to meet, and shall be, designated as an official convention center hotel for the city of Memphis and shall maintain a major flag reasonably acceptable to the city,” reads the letter.
That “flag,” would be Loews, a luxury hotel brand with 24 hotels in the U.S. And Canada. The closest to Memphis is the upscale Loews Vanderbilt Hotel on Nashville’s West End.
The developers also asked in the letter to build and maintain a model hotel room in the Cook Convention Center to be used as a sales office. The letter also requests that the city not relocate the convention center for at least 15 years.
Developers said the Hospitality Hub, the nonprofit that helps the homeless, would likely be displaced from its current location at 82 N Second. The partners want city officials to help them move the nonprofit to a space at 247 Washington.