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Lodgian Shuttering the French Quarter Suites Hotel in Memphis for Good;
Hotel Had Steadily Declined with Little Upkeep
By Cassandra Kimberly, The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tenn.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

July 12, 2008 -- Another landmark in Overton Square is closing next week.

On Tuesday, the Memphis French Quarter Suites Hotel is shutting its doors for good. The property on the northeast corner of Madison and Cooper in Midtown has been for sale for the past six months.

The 105-room hotel at 2144 Madison is owned by Lodgian Memphis Property Owner LLC, a division of Atlanta-based Lodgian Inc.

The property owners did not return calls Friday.

The hotel's shuttering is another hit on the efforts of Memphis Heritage Inc. to keep Overton Square intact, said June West, executive director of the nonprofit historic preservation society.

"We feel the fact that the owners aren't Memphians and aren't local, they don't realize the impact on that corner," she said.

Memphis Heritage recently listed Overton Square in the top 10 endangered properties in the city.

Lodgian, which owns more than 40 hotels nationwide, acquired the French Quarter hotel in the early 1990s.

Observers say the hotel, built in 1984, has steadily declined with little upkeep over the years, which has contributed to the shuttering of the property.

The hotel's announcement comes as no surprise to James Rasberry, co-owner of Rasberry CRE, formerly Lewis & Rasberry Real Estate, which handles leasing at Overton Square.

"Do we need an excellent boutique hotel in Midtown? Definitely. Do we have one? No," he said. "I think it's a great site with a lot of potential but there's an unwillingness to pay the money (for renovations)."

However, the French Quarter's closing won't be the last change to the 11-acre Overton Square development this year.

Rasberry CRE is planning a "multimillion-dollar project" on the 4-1/2-acre tract on the southwest side of the entertainment district.

"It's pretty exciting what is going on quietly in the area," he said.

"We're working with a couple of developers to redevelop the whole south side."

Recently, Bayou and Le Chardonnay moved across the street to the north side of Overton Square from the Palm Court building.

The restaurants join anchor tenants Bosco's Squared, Paulette's and Malco.

Residents and business owners shouldn't let all of the "for lease" signs scare them, Rasberry said.

"They see a vacant building, and they say the area is dying. They don't see the hard work that is being done for the bigger project," he said.

"I would anticipate seeing a lot more retail on the south side of the street."

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To see more of The Commercial Appeal, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.commercialappeal.com.

Copyright (c) 2008, The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tenn.

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