MDN: Downtown May Get New 12-Story Boutique Hotel
A plan to redevelop the former Tenoke Building into a hotel may be revived several years after a similar idea for the vacant Downtown office high-rise fell through.
Vibrant Hotels Inc., an affiliate of Batesville, Mississippi-based development company JVD Enterprises, is seeking a special use permit that would allow the conversion of the century-old Tenoke, located at 161 Jefferson Ave., and the adjacent one-story office at 191 Jefferson Ave. into an “upper-brand franchised full-service hotel,” according to an application filed with the city-county Office of Planning and Development in August.
The two properties, which were built in 1911 and 1935, respectively, occupy half an acre at the southwest corner of Jefferson and B.B. King Boulevard.
The Land Use Control Board is expected to vote on the special use permit at its Thursday, Nov. 10, meeting.
Renderings on JVD’s website show the redeveloped property branded as an Aloft Hotel, a boutique flag owned by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. Aloft bills itself as a “tech-forward” brand, with some of its 100 hotels worldwide offering features such as keyless entry systems, which allow guests to use their smartphone or Apple watch to unlock their room, and TiGi (“text it, get it”), an “emoji-only room service menu.”
The OPD staff report does not outline the number of rooms or total investment in the property conversion. However, the renderings show at least part of the single-story building replaced by a covered driveway and drop-off point in front of the hotel lobby.
The report recommends approval of the application with a few conditions, including ensuring dumpsters are screened from public view and that the property isn’t operated on an hourly rate.
However, the report does raise questions about daily traffic congestion in the area, specifically afternoon traffic associated with the Grizzlies Prep charter school across the street.
It also questions where hotel guests will park and suggests using the metered parking spaces on the west side of B.B. King Boulevard for valet parking.
This is not the first time Vibrant has pursued the idea of transforming the nearly 134,000-square-foot Tenoke into a hotel. The company sought a special use permit for a similar plan in 2007 and received approval from both the LUCB and Memphis City Council. However, the proposed hotel never materialized. The company’s current application seeks to reacquire the same zoning for the new project.
Aloft joins nearly 15 hotels under development Downtown.
In late September, California-based Wessman Holdings bought the former Memphis College of Art graduate school at 477 S. Main St., with plans to convert the five-story building into an Arrive Hotel, a boutique “lifestyle” brand targeting millennials. A mile north, Wessman is converting the two-story former Leader Federal Bank building at 158 Madison Ave. into a national-brand boutique hotel. Both projects are slated to open in 2018.
Hotel Napoleon, a boutique infill hotel, recently opened in the former Press-Scimitar building at 179 Madison Ave. And Central Station’s multifaceted redevelopment includes plans for a boutique hotel there.