By JACK WEATHERLY
Luke Chamblee’s company built the Graduate Hotel in Oxford, which was designed to reflect the unique culture of the town.
Now LRC2 Properties has partnered with Loeb Properties to build a 100-room hotel to serve a burgeoning theater district in Memphis.
Loeb has rejuvenated Overton Square, which had fallen on hard times since it sprang up following the passage of a mixed-drink ordinance in Memphis in 1970 and revolutionized night life there.
With the legendary T.G.I. Friday’s closing its doors in 2003, the party was over.
Loeb Properties saw the potential for a rebirth.
Over a five-year period, the investors put $31 million into the district, according to the Memphis Daily News in 2016.
Now Loeb is wanting to invest $24 million in the hotel. A key part of the financing was advanced recently as a city board approved a 15-year fee in lieu of taxes agreement that will save $6.1 million for the developers.
Loeb wants a theater-theme hotel to reflect the venerable Playhouse on the Square, a professional-resident theater; Hattiloo Theatre, which produces African-American plays, and Ballet Memphis, which opened a $21 million facility last month where the French Quarter hotel used to be.
Enter Chamblee on the next stage of development, with MMI Hotel Group of Flowood as the managing partner.
Chamblee is co-owner of the Graduate with Chicago-based AJ Capital Partners, which has developed a chain of local-theme hotels.
“I think they like the energy of the Graduate,” Chamblee said of Loeb Properties.
“We are going through the steps with [architects and designers] to make sure they understand this location.”
An Ole Miss alum, Luke Chamblee understands Oxford, and so The Graduate thesis reflects university and town.
Chamblee, who moved from Flowood with the building of The Graduate, will open his second hotel there next month, a 93-room Hilton Home2 Suites.
It will be part of the $24.5 million South Lamar Court that will also feature a 37,000-square-foot office and retail building, all of which is leased and will open by March, Chamblee said.
Tenants include restaurants Soul Fish, First Watch and Uno Mas Tacos as well as Shed Fitness Group, Nextgear Solutions and Kendall Poole Event Planning.
The LRC2 portfolio also includes a Holiday Inn Express and Suites, Candlewood Suites, Stone Creek Place and Table 100, all in Flowood, and a Hotel Indigo to open in Hattiesburg.
And he said he has plans for a luxury hotel in the Delta but wouldn’t reveal the details.