Apartment and townhome phases endorsed at Union Depot

by Michael Waddell, Daily Memphian
Shapiro & Company Architects

New apartments and townhomes, designed by Memphis-based Shapiro & Company Architects*, could be under construction later this year at the $162 million Union Depot mixed-use project in Bartlett.

On Tuesday, Jan. 3, the Bartlett Municipal Planning Commission unanimously endorsed construction plans, final plans and a site plan related to the next phases of the project on U.S. 70 north of Stage.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen must review the plans approved Tuesday.

The apartments will become some of the few available in the suburb, and the first built in Bartlett in roughly 15-plus years. The last previous apartments were at Quail Ridge Highlands and The Preserve at Bartlett.

“I think that the majority of the people I’ve spoken with in Bartlett feel like we need additional housing for our residents,” Planning Commissioner Casper Briggs said. “This has been my stance the whole time; that this offers another option, especially with the way that the housing market is right now.”

Phase 1B will include 336 flats or apartments, named The Westerly, and will include a clubhouse, pool, and vehicle charging stations. Phase 2A will include 4.8 acres subdivided into 48 townhome lots ranging from 1,800 to 5,600 square feet.

“Our plan is to start a lot of the site work probably in April or May,” said Keith Grant, who is developing the 74-acre property, which sat vacant for several years under his Blue Sky Communities banner.

Commissioner Jim Lamb asked how soon the public would see evidence of construction on the site.

“I think the public is going to be more comfortable when they see something happening besides dirt moving and calling it the new Grand Canyon,” Lamb said.

Grant assured Lamb and the commissioners that construction of the apartments should be evident by August or September.

“The flats will take probably two and a half years to complete everything,” Grant said.“Then the townhomes will probably start by the end of the year.” 

In recent months, extensive grading and groundwork has been in full swing at the highly visible site.

“I know there are a lot of people upset seeing that site, and they’re mad at the city about the project going in. But the bottom line is it was the Baptist Children’s Home that decided to sell the property, not the city,” Jack Young, the suburb’s vice mayor and a member of the Planning Commission, said.

He points out that mixed-use developments planned or recently built in Arlington, Lakeland, Germantown and Memphis are successful.

“That’s the new development trend,” Young said. “It maximizes the various opportunities for people to live on a site. I just think it’s going to be a real asset for our city when it’s completed.”

Two different underground wastewater tanks holding 590,000 gallons of water will be installed in June or July.

The Bartlett Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved a special use permit for Union Depot in December of 2021, making it the first project built under the city’s new mixed-use ordinance approved in 2019.

“I think it’s a positive thing for the city,” Briggs said. “I think if we want to continue to serve our population and attract additional residents, it’s necessary that we try to make progressive steps forward.”

A master plan for Union Depot was approved in June of last year and includes an estimated 600 residential units with three commercial lots, all built in six phases. Overall plans include the 336 flats, 70 townhomes, and 161 single-family homes, along with 55 lofts above retail and an additional 6 acres of retail for a total of 85,000 square feet of commercial space.

Young is happy with the phasing of the project.

“They’re going to have people living there before they do the commercial aspect,” he said. “That will give those moving into the commercial spaces a target audience already living on site, so it will enhance the ability to bring in more quality commercial tenants.”


*Editorial Addition by Huntington Maddrey with Shapiro & Company Architects