Profile #5 in StoryBoard’s look at progress in historic preservation over the last decade
Built in 1911, the old Central police building at 128 Adams Avenue was designed in the Neo-classical style by prominent architects Charles Pfeil and George Shaw, who also designed the Tennessee Trust building, now the Madison Hotel. Along with the construction on the fire station next door, Mayor E. H. Crump wanted to make it clear that, for the first time in the city’s history, a group of majestic buildings would elevate the status of both the police and fire departments, upon whom he had relied to keep him in office. In 1959 an annex was added to the back of the building.
Vacant since the 1980’s, it was sold by the City of Memphis to the NCE Realty and Capital Group, LLC in 2016 for $2 million, with plans for an upscale boutique hotel, but their plans never succeeded in getting past the design stage.
In October of 2019, Loews Hotels purchased the building from NCE for an undisclosed purchase price. They plan to add it to their construction of a 17-story, 500-room hotel on the Mid-American mall, facing City Hall. Alex Tisch of Loews said “The footprint of the hotel gets much bigger and now the hotel is going to have on-site parking, which alleviates one of the concerns that we all had going into this project.” Tisch and city officials said the part of the police headquarters fronting Adams will be preserved.
The City of Memphis will transfer ownership of the land to the Center City Revenue Finance Corporation, could then gran a PILOT for a 32-yer term to Loews. Loews would also receive Tourism Development funds for the project. City officials believe that the ongoing $200 million renovation of the Memphis Convention Center, combined with the new hotel, will stimulate convention bookings, which have lagged far behind Nashville and it’s new $750 million facility.
Loews’ new design, which includes the recently-purchased police building, was approved by Land Use Control Board, the Memphis City Council and the Downtown Commission’s Design Review Board in January. <>
Editor’s update, 6/15/2022: In July 2020, Loews’s hotel project was put on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic. In May 2021, the company narrowed the project’s scope and removed the historic police headquarters from its plan. In February 2022, Loews officially pulled out of its plan to build a skyscraper hotel near the Convention Center. As of today, the property is listed for sale by Crye-Leike for $4.95 million.
This is fifth profile in our series on progress in historic preservation over the last decade. To read more in this series, please visit the main article here.