Architecture, Inc. to Design Two Mixed-Income Multifamily Projects on 92 acres of Public Housing Sites

By Anuradha KHer, Online News EditorMemphis, Tenn.–Architecture, Incorporated is designing two massive multifamily projects in Memphis, Tenn., slated for completion by approximately 2012. University Place (pictured), situated on 52 acres on the site of the former Lamar Terrace public housing development, features a 112-unit seniors housing project; a 76-building, 287-unit mixed-income rental project; as well as up to 54 for-sale lots.The 40-acre Legends Park, situated on the site of the former Dixie Homes housing project, comprises 95 buildings of 357 mixed-income rental units as well as up to 54,000 sq. ft. of commercial and market-rate housing space. The two developments, spanning more than four city blocks in downtown Memphis, mark efforts by the city to create a new paradigm for multifamily housing to help break the cycle of multi-generational public housing.St. Louis-based developer, McCormac Baron Salazer has a 50-year lease to manage both projects. “The developer is involved in these kinds of projects across the country so they have developed a unit plan for each market,” David Schuermann, AIA, NCARB, Architecture, Inc., tells MHN. “We took those units and modeled the buildings around the neighborhood architecture.”University Place is now entering phase three of the project while Legends Park is just breaking ground. “This is such a huge project that everyone has a finger in this pie. There is no authority in Memphis that doesn’t have something to do with this project, so we had to negotiate between all these people and design our way around everyone. It offered a different kind of challenge, one that does not come with simply sitting down and designing a building,” explains Schuermann. Legends Park was originally home to several notable African-Americans, including W. S. Martin, who was founding head of Collins Chapel Hospital, owner of Negro League team, the Memphis Red Sox, owner of Chicago American Giants and president of the Negro Baseball League. Built in the early 1900s and known as Queen Bee Bottoms, the neighborhood contained about 81 buildings and 636 units until age and deterioration forced the demolition and relocation of families in the 1990s. University Place broke ground in 2005, and is now moving into the third phase of development. Both projects are receiving funding from local entities, including the HOPE VI program, which funds the redevelopment of public housing in creative, mixed-income neighborhoods.