They said it couldn't be done: a high-rise condominium development in downtown Memphis? Two towers, 300-plus units, 16 floors? World-class amenities, unparalleled views, big bang for the buck? Not gonna happen, they said, because who's gonna buy it?
Well, what do they know?
That was the message at the recent groundbreaking ceremony for phase one of the Horizon, Memphis' newest upscale condominium development. Gary Garland, president of the Garland Company and the Horizon's development manager, summed up a common response over the last couple years to the project's prospects: "There were naysayers in Memphis, Tennessee, who said, 'Y'all will never get this done.'" And yet, there Garland stood on Novermber 8th, along with Memphis mayor Willie Herenton, Shelby County commissioner Mike Ritz, the Horizon's developer Steve Bryan of the Bryan Company, Center City Commission president Jeff Sanford, Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau president Kevin Kane, and other local heavy hitters.
Celebratory and a little defiant, Garland, Bryan, Sanford, and Herenton each took the podium, the golden shovels waiting nearby to make action verbs out of the promises touted by developers since the Horizon was first announced. "You'll be able to watch this thing come up," Garland said, his words reinforced by the sound of construction vehicles and a giant hole in the ground a couple dozen yards away. (The Horizon actually broke ground a few months ago.)
Herenton put his imprimatur on the event. "This is a great day in the history of the great city of Memphis," he said. "This is an exciting time in the evolution of downtown for a great Southern city.
"I know a little bit about development, and this was a great risk," Herenton said about the Horizon. But he added that the groundbreaking was a lesson about not listening to naysayers. He admitted he's had his share over the years.
"We will make possible what you, naysayers, have said wasn't possible," Herenton added.
Sanford looked into his crystal ball, saying, "The Horizon will be the queen, I predict, of this terrific downtown neighborhood."
The development's amenities certainly sound royal: a private movie theater, a climate-controlled wine cellar with space for personal storage, indoor and outdoor pools, a putting green, a fitness center, a party and activity room with a fireplace, a 24-hour doorman/concierge, a business tech center, a tennis court, and a rooftop patio with views of the Mississippi River. And those amenities are just for the Horizon's common areas.
"We decided we wanted to raise the level, and we're doing it," Bryan said of the vision for the Horizon. "We're not finished," he continued. "We have a long way to go.
"We're going to change the horizon of the Mississippi River and downtown Memphis in a very positive way."