media, news

Daily Memphian (February 23, 2019)
Michael Waddell

The Bartlett area enjoyed its best year of economic development during 2018, with an estimated $165 million in capital investment, according to a report from the Bartlett Area Chamber of Commerce.

The growth was fueled by the $60 million redevelopment of Bartlett High School, a variety of large retailers setting up shop in the city, and existing companies expanding and improving their spaces, the report said.

The previous high was in 2009 when capital investments topped $115 million. For 2017, the amount of capital investment for the Bartlett area (including Bartlett, Lakeland and Arlington) was $76 million.

Projects within the Bartlett city limits also set a record for 2018, with $129 million in capital investment activity. The numbers represent construction costs and may not include all of the furniture, fixtures and equipment.

“We’ve had a lot of redevelopment of retail spaces that started in 2017 with the redevelopment of the space where L.A. Fitness went in on Stage Road,” said John Dodd, the Bartlett chamber’s manager of economic development.

Across the street from L.A. Fitness, national chain Five Below opened last year after investing about $400,000 into its new store in the Bartlett Towne Center at 6025 Stage Road.

“In that situation, there wasn’t one space in the shopping center that was big enough for them, so the landlord or owner of the space got with the tenants who were already there and made a deal where they would move them around within that same shopping center so there would be two contiguous spaces for Five Below to go into,” Dodd said.

Also on the retail side, the Infiniti of Memphis car dealership made a $1.4 million investment in its property at 3060 N. Germantown Parkway.

“We expanded our parking lot back as far as we could, and then we added a 22,000-square-foot building to accommodate 12 extra service bays as well as a parts department,” Infiniti general manager Rob Walker said. The dealership opened in 2011.

Malco also invested $1.4 million last year to renovate its Stage Cinema Grill theater at 7930 Stage Road.

Bartlett uses Birmingham-based Retail Strategies to help with site selection and with trying to recruit new retailers to the city.

“We have been aggressive going after more retail growth, infilling some of the spaces that are vacant. That’s been a big effort of ours for the last three to four years,” Bartlett chief financial officer Mark Brown said. “We have quite a few prospects on the horizon. It will just take time finding the right site and then developing it.”

The city offers incentives for commercial development within the Bartlett Station area on the west end of Bartlett.

“There are parts of Bartlett that are large parcels of property where we would like to have them developed maybe as mixed use, with commercial, retail and residential. So there are all kinds of possibilities out here,” said Brown, who cited the 74-acre former Tennessee Baptist Children’s Home property that is for sale as one example.

Boosting last year’s numbers well into record territory were two educational projects: the $60 million renovation of Bartlett High along with the $4 million renovation of a nearby office building into the district’s new administration offices.

The life sciences and medical device industries in the Bartlett area also contributed heavily to the strong growth in 2018.

“We’re seeing a lot of the companies that were already here improve their spaces,” Dodd said.

Onyx Medical spent $11 million on construction costs for its expansion on Shelby Oaks Drive, while Engineered Medical Systems is pumping $10.5 million in construction costs at its facility in the Bartlett Corporate Park.

“They’re planning to double their size and square footage right next door to where they already are on the same property,” Dodd said.

Also considered part of the Bartlett area for purposes of the report, Wright Medical had $9 million in construction costs as part of its expansion in Arlington.

More than $30 million in capital expansions is underway in the Interstate 40 corridor, where five medical device companies are located.

Also contributing to the growth is an increase in Bartlett’s population, taking the number of residents to an estimated 59,000 and making it the 10th-largest city in Tennessee. When compared to its top 10 peers, Bartlett ranks second in median household income, second in per-capita income and fourth in population growth from 2016 to 2017, according to census data.