The 23-story Lincoln American Tower, constructed in 1925, the five-story Lowenstein Brothers Department Store, constructed in 1885, and a five-story modern replacement of the former Court Annex building, lost to fire during construction, make up the 200,000 square foot, $58 million Court Square Center project with addresses on Memphis’ Main Street and on the historic Court Square in the heart of downtown Memphis. New Community Partners (NCP) partnered with Telesis Corporation and local partners, CGI Partners and Chandler and Chandler, to convert three architecturally significant buildings, one of which had been sitting vacant for nearly 20 years, into 37,000 square feet of office and retail space and 75 market rate apartments.
The Court Square Center project integrates Memphis’s architectural legacy with modern design and market preferences. The careful weaving of complementary design elements into the historic fabric is at the heart of this adaptive re-use. The Court Square Center project and a $600,000 investment by the City of Memphis has regenerated the beautiful Court Square Center Park next door, the historic center of Memphis, and was a fundamental building block of the City’s comprehensive redevelopment plan for downtown Memphis.
Two months after closing the financing for the project in 2006, the 70,000 square foot Court Annex building was destroyed by a dramatic fire which consumed the building in a matter of hours. NCP coordinated efforts to settle a major insurance claim and to restructure the complex New Markets and Historic Tax Credit financing for the surviving two buildings. After the insurance claim was settled a year later, a modern, LEED Gold replacement building facing historic Court Square Park was designed, approved by the National Park Service and built by the partnership to complete the project.
The project is now complete and fully leased. The commercial space is home to The Plough Foundation and local businesses, including Regina’s Cajun Restaurant and Kaleidoscope School of Memphis.
The initial project financing included public and private sources of funds, including New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC), federal Historic Tax Credits (HTC), a Section 108 loan from the City of Memphis, a Brownfields Economic Development Initiative grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, private equity from local and international sources and a private first mortgage loan. NMTCs were provided by Enterprise Communities and by National Development Council. The NMTC and HTC investor was U.S. Bank Community Development Corporation. Early development financing was provided by Wachovia Bank. The NMTC financing structure has since been unwound, with US Bank having exited as the project equity investor. The original leverage debt, provided by Enterprise Bank of St. Louis, MO, has been refinanced with an FHA 223(f)-insured loan arranged by Love Funding of Washington, D.C.
Court Square Center was awarded the J. Timothy Anderson Award for Excellence in Historic Rehabilitation by the National Housing & Rehabilitation Association in 2009.