Sold Out 

Longtime businesses to be forced out of Highland home.

"Whatever" seems to be the attitude the owners of an established Highland Avenue head shop by the same name encountered when they tried to confirm rumors it would be evicted from its 42-year-home in the University of Memphis area.

Toward the end of August, Whatever owners heard from owners of the Super Submarine Sandwich Shop next door that the entire building at the southeast corner of Southern and Highland had been sold. They immediately reached out to the property managers at commercial real estate firm Palmer Brothers, Inc.

"We had to call the property manager over and over and over. They wouldn't call us back. After about a week and a half, we finally got them to tell us the property had been sold. Really, all we know is that the building has been sold and will be torn down and redeveloped," said Luke Sexton, manager of Whatever. "As far as I know, we still haven't received a [formal] letter."

Other businesses affected include the Southern Meat Market, which had a similarly difficult time reaching Palmer Brothers, and the Super Submarine Sandwich Shop, better known to regulars as the "Chinese sub shop."

"We found out through rumors," said Randy Stockard of the Southern Meat Market. "We're not getting told firsthand."

According to Sexton, these three businesses have been given a six months' notice, a tentative date of March 2013, to move out.

"We're glad for the move, but it would have been nice to have the option to buy," Sexton said. "We would have bought our [space] and probably would have bought the entire building. We were ready to make improvements. Actually, we were just about to knock out a wall and start expanding when we heard the rumors."

As for how the property will be developed, rumors are swirling; some have heard speculation that the property will become a McDonald's.

"All that I'm at liberty to tell you is the property is under contract to be sold. The buyer and seller have both signed," said Kathy Young, bookkeeper for Palmer Brothers. Young would not disclose the name of the buyer, and owner Marvin Palmer could not be reached for comment.

The owners of Whatever are already looking at another location at 555 S. Highland, the space that once housed the Double Deuce's dance hall. Both the Southern Meat Market and the Super Submarine Sandwich Shop are trying to stay in the area, but neither has found a space on Highland.

"We want to stay here," said Jun Hua, owner of the sub shop. "But we just don't know. We've been looking. It's hard to find a place."

"We definitely want to stay on Highland," said Sexton, who is concerned this push to sell and redevelop the current building is part of a larger redevelopment project in the area.

Governor Bill Haslam was in Memphis in July to announce a $529,436 federal grant for the revitalization of Walker Avenue near the University of Memphis.

"I think they're trying to develop the area, and I just hope they keep the rent down so other mom and pop places and independent places can get started," Sexton said.

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