Car-centric Southaven on Tuesday celebrated the groundbreaking of Silo Square, the suburb’s planned community that aspires to blend businesses and housing in a way that is easy, even pleasing, to walk around.
“This is going to be a game-changing development for our city,” Mayor Darren Musselwhite told about 75 people gathered under a tent near the old, concrete farm silo from which the development draws its name and branding for quaintness.
Musselwhite likened the 228-acre district — south of Goodman Road, west of Getwell and east of Tchulahoma — to Midtown Memphis’ Overton Square, where visitors park their car only once and walk to a variety of restaurants and entertainment spots.
More apt comparisons might be the 443-acre Schilling Farms in Collierville or even the still-planned, 160-acre Lake District in Lakeland.
The city and developer Brian Hill of Lifestyle Communities LLC organized an event befitting the expected impact: The DeSoto Central High marching band played; a feast of chicken, fish, pork and vegetables with ice tea was served; and Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann participated.
Yes, the $200 million project will generate millions of dollars in investment for Southaven, Hosemann told the crowd.
But the bigger benefit is the people who will come to live, work and shop at Silo Square and send their children to DeSoto County schools, he said.
“It’s the people that make the community,” he said.
As festive as the groundbreaking was, the event was not merely ceremonial. Backhoes and other heavy machinery were stationed on site ready to start work.
“The response to the development in its entirety, commercial and residential, has been overwhelming,” said Hill, the developer and owner. “We’re having people call us from out of state wanting to move their businesses here. We’re having people from Memphis wanting to move their businesses here. It’s just been crazy the amount of calls that we’ve received.”
Hill described the construction sequence for Silo Square, in order: Develop the infrastructure providing access to the entire commercial district this year; start building commercial buildings by the end of this year or early 2019; start building housing — units connected to the commercial buildings on the east side near Getwell and traditional houses nearer Tchulahoma Road — “hopefully” by Thanksgiving.
The goal for Silo Square is to create a rich atmosphere like the town squares of Oxford and Collierville. But the weathered character of those places matured over a century.
“There is no way, obviously, to emulate Collierville Square or Oxford Square or anything like that,” said Bob Dalhoff, whose Dalhoff Thomas Design Studio created the site plan for Silo Square. “All you can do is come close to it and pull in some of the elements that make up that fabric of those squares.
“So that’s what we’ve tried to do with the two-story architecture: Living above, working below, along with amenities such as hotels and things like that for the other people in there. So it becomes an active place 24 hours a day. That’s what it’s all about in creating ‘place.”’
Loeb Realty Group’s Barry Maynard and Frank Dyer III are handling all the commercial leasing and sales for Silo Square’s buildings and outparcels.
They declined to name any businesses that are lining up to get into Silo Square, but Maynard said, “We’ve got contracts, LOI’s (letters of intent) with banks, retailers, restaurants and hotels in the works … We’ve got some under contract now that we’re not going to announce (now), but a lot of exciting things are coming.”
Interest from businesses has been “fantastic,” Dyer said. “When the website went up, I think he got 1,500 hits the first day. Incredible.”
The plan calls for: 304 gated, residential lots with houses costing from about $225,000 to $400,000-plus; six retail outparcels; one bank outparcel; two hotels; 16 mixed-use lots; three office lots; a 2.6-acre farmers market; 10 acres for 128 loft apartments; and 64 acres of open green space.
The “downtown” area of the plan blends residential, commercial and public uses around a Main Street lined with two- and three-story buildings.