Poplar Plaza may be one of three shopping centers Finard Properties LLC owns in Memphis, but its history could possibly be the richest.
The Burlington, Mass.-based real estate company is in the midst of a multi-million transformation of the center, including the relocation of nine tenants to make way for a new 86,500-square-foot Kroger.
Not only is the project noteworthy because tenants Kroger and Gould’s Day Spa are getting new digs within the center, but also because both were among the center’s original occupants, which far precedes Finard’s ownership. It’s also a pretty telling picture of the transformation made by retail real estate over the past 60 years.
“We have (a copy of) the original Kroger lease, which I believe is dated 1952,” Smith said. “It’s three pages long. That’s so entertaining because nowadays, a lease with a large, big-box tenant is often 80 and 90 pages, especially with the exhibits.”
Today, Poplar Plaza sits on 28 acres and is home to more than 50 local and national tenants, including anchors Kroger, Old Navy, Petco and Mattress Firm. But that’s in stark contrast to the first phase of construction of the outdoor strip mall in 1948, when the intersection at Poplar and Highland was considered to be the rural outskirts of the city.
“A rural, large-layout shopping center – they just didn’t exist except in maybe Texas and California and a couple of other coastal states like that,” said Rick Smith, director of leasing for Finard’s Memphis office. “It was really very much one of its kind at that point.”