Haute Life 

Upscale,downtown: the RiverCrest on Front opens its doors.

The Big Muddy eases by a couple hundred yards away, and the streetcars rattle along a block over. A little farther away is the nexus of the hottest blues and coolest jazz in the area. A light breeze wafts with the aroma of some of the city's finest Southern fare. You sit in a comfortable courtyard surrounded by brick and a fleur-de-lis-topped iron railing.

No, you're not in New Orleans. You're in that other Mississippi River city, the one atop the bluffs. You're in downtown Memphis, right next to Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken, at RiverCrest condominiums on Front Street and East Pontotoc Avenue.

RiverCrest is the brainchild of Fred and Donna Dee Sliney and Don Morris of Horizon Construction. Donna Sliney of RE/MAX Elite pulls double duty, as she is also the real estate agent for the project. RiverCrest did not happen overnight, and as it has taken shape, the building has drawn a lot of attention from downtown residents, workers, visitors, and diners at Gus's. The chicken shack, once standing lonely between a parking lot and a field, now has a big brother.

"We have been at this for over a year," Donna Dee Sliney says. RiverCrest broke ground on May 30th, 2006. "We felt it would take one year to get the quality we wanted."

The owners not only took their time on the project, they also limited the size of the development. "We wanted to keep it at three stories with the rooftop [terrace level], and we thought that we could get more quality by limiting the number of units to 11," Sliney says.

The result is a building with units ranging in size from 1,860 to 2,700 square feet (and each style unit with multiple floor-plan options). With units having 10-foot ceilings, there's plenty of room to breathe. All units are loaded with windows, and the model is as bright as the summer day outside. Flats and

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townhouses on the second and third floors have private balconies. Top-floor units also boast private roof-garden terraces. Townhouses include 21-by-10-foot lofts.

The smallest units are still expansive. Each flat has two bedrooms and two-and-a-half baths. The master bath is almost sinful: a huge bath/shower combo. Bedrooms, which are carpeted, have two walk-in closets and a full bath each. The rest of the interior is either hardwood (the purchaser's choice of one of five Bruce "Natural Reflections" hardwood floors) or ceramic tile.

Condos also offer a full laundry, kitchens with stainless-steel appliances, including double ovens, and TV and wireless Internet provided as part of homeowner-association membership. In addition to hardwood-floor choices, residents can pick from six styles of granite countertops for the bathrooms and kitchen, the ceramic tile, carpet,

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cabinetry, interior wall colors, and an interior trim color throughout. An allowance is given to purchasers for interior fixtures.

Diane Gordon, principal designer of SEE the Difference Interiors, was selected to do the interior design for RiverCrest. "We were most impressed with Gordon, and we basically gave her free rein," Sliney says. Gordon's credentials are impeccable: In the Memphis Area Home Builders Association's 2006 Vesta Home Show downtown, Gordon won four awards: Best Interior Design, Best of Show, Best Lifestyle Appeal, and Best Kitchen, all for her work on CityHouse.

"I was selected to be the interior designer for the project, from picking out the paint colors to the cabinets to the granite, making the units have consistency and flow, and setting up the model," Gordon says. "Picking out colors is very important so there is consistency." Designing RiverCrest's

click to enlarge Donna Dee Sliney
  • Donna Dee Sliney
model, Gordon went through the same process she does for all her clients. "I go to High Point, North Carolina, and I make my own selections and purchase everything directly from the manufacturers: rugs, furniture, accessories, lighting, wall décor, bedroom suites, dining room suites, and upholstery.

"RiverCrest has a New Orleans flair to it, and to be able to come in and do an updated home furnishing on it really fit the style of the complex," she says. "I would probably call it a soft eclectic style. Everything in Memphis is 90 percent tradition, so when people come in, they're like, Wow. Every time you go to home furnishing stores and models, you either get that total modern, contemporary look, which is what a lot of downtown is going to, or you get kind of an eclectic look, which is basically matching different pieces from different vendors instead of everything being from the same company that matches up perfectly."

Gordon, a native Memphian in the interior-design business for about 12 years but who just opened her showroom in December in CityHouse, will be on hand to assist RiverCrest purchasers with the selection process.

One of the most coveted possessions downtown — covered, secured parking — is one of the amenities RiverCrest offers. Each unit comes with two secured, underground parking spots accessible from the entrance off Pontotoc. And there's not just an elevator that can take you from the garage to all floors. It's

click to enlarge Diane Gordon
  • Diane Gordon
furniture-friendly, ready for moving in. All entrances to the building, including the garage, are keypad secure. There are also individual, customized storage areas for residents.

A large courtyard graces the central/back portion of the building, evoking New Orleans in word and design. The landscaped area includes gas grills and picnic tables, perfect for escaping from it all — right in the middle of it all.

RiverCrest is the Slineys' first foray into downtown Memphis development. "It's been exciting," Donna Sliney says. "Downtown is alive. We think downtown is just wonderful, and that's why we chose to build RiverCrest here. We're just real thrilled to be a part of downtown.

"RiverCrest is not the typical residential building. It's for professionals and people who want to enjoy all the amenities of downtown," she says. "The upside of living downtown, and especially at the Rivercrest, is that you can walk to the Orpheum, you can walk to Beale Street, you can go to FedExForum, and with all the new restaurants opening, the lifestyle is great. From the rooftop you can see the river, and the view of downtown is just incredible. But there's dead silence in your unit." According to Sliney, units are soundproofed to the extent that you can't hear passing traffic on Front Street.

Units range from $389,000 to $559,000, and purchasers can be in their condo within 30 days, maximum. "They're all sheetrocked and ready for purchasers to approve," Sliney says.

For more information on RiverCrest, contact Donna Dee Sliney at 901-485-7970 or by e-mail: donnasliney@remax.net. Diane Gordon can be reached at 901-522-9696 or seedianegordon@aol.com.

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