Two Hilton-brand hotels will be coming to Downtown Memphis as part of the sweeping $1 billion The Walk on Union project.
The Walk will feature Tempo and Embassy Suites hotels, said Dave Dlugolenski of the Memphis Walk LLC development group. The two hotels, along with more than 700 apartments, make up part of the $376 million first phase of the development.
Located within walking distance of FedExForum, Beale Street and AutoZone Park, the site is at the heart of Memphis’ entertainment center.
“It was important for us to kind of create a destination, a place, kind of a district within the city that draws people and brings people together,” he said. “The strategic location just lent itself to a hospitality component.”
Dlugolenski said the team expects to break ground on the hotels in early 2022. The hotels are expected to open in 2023. Between the two, there will be 349 guest rooms and more than 4,600 square feet of meeting space.
The project is also slated to bring office and retail space, hundreds of apartments and open space to Downtown on 29-acres of blighted land along Union Avenue, west of Danny Thomas. Construction work will begin on the apartments in the fall. Dlugolenski said the development team was negotiating leases with prospective commercial tenants and announcements could be made later this year about the restaurant and retail options The Walk on Union will host.
“It will be a good mix, local restaurateurs but also maybe some regional and national restaurateurs as well,” he said. “We’re just trying to make sure to be very deliberate… Those are big commitments because they are… it’s our front door, it’s what everyone sees.”
‘It caters to everyone’
The Tempo by Hilton Memphis Downtown will have 166 rooms, a state-of-the-art gym featuring Peloton equipment and a bar and restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating. The lifestyle hotel brand, launched by Hilton last year, has a location in Louisville and several others in the pipeline, including in Boston, Seattle, Rotterdam and Mexico City, according to trade publication Hotel Online.
The hotel will sit at Union and a new street, Fifth Street, which will be created as part of the project.
The Embassy Suites by Hilton Downtown, which will sit at the corner of Union and Fourth Street, will have 183 two-room suites, a pool and fitness center and two restaurants: E’terie Bar and Grill, a full-service bar with fast-casual dining, and Brickstone, described as a contemporary American-style restaurant.
Dlugolenski said both hotels, like the entire The Walk on Union project, are not only for visitors but for locals, too. The restaurants and public spaces will cater to Memphians looking for a place to meet with friends or a staycation. Both are full-service hotels but won’t have luxury hotel prices.
“I think it caters to everyone. And that’s what I think Memphis is all about,” he said. “We want to make this attainable and attractive to everyone.”
John Koshivos, vice president and managing director of development for Hilton, said the two hotels will appeal “to a variety of travelers in and to this vibrant city.”
“We are thrilled to expand our footprint in Memphis and to partner with The Walk on Union and Sagestone Partners to add to the soul of this historic city with the addition of Tempo by Hilton and Embassy Suites by Hilton,” he said.
In August, developer Kevin Adams told The Commercial Appeal the project formerly known as Union Row was back on track after delays due to COVID-19.
Adams worked with New York-based Turner Construction to review the project’s budget last summer and consulted with architects and designers to make small pandemic-inspired changes to the plans, including contactless doors and improved air filtration systems.
Those changes, he said last year, have made for a better overall project.
Adams is developing the project with Florida-based Third Lake Capital and Texas-based Sagestone Partners. LRK is the design firm on the project.
The project was approved for a $185 million Tax Increment Financing (TIF) incentive in 2019, but last year went back to the Downtown Memphis Commission to ask the body to rescind the TIF and approve a 30-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) incentive instead.
That PILOT request was approved as was a request to use money from a hotel surcharge collected in the Downtown Tourism Development Zone.
Corinne Kennedy covers economic development, soccer and healthcare for The Commercial Appeal. She can be reached via email at [email protected] or at 901-297-3245.