Apartment complex near DPDHQ moves forward; “Urban Merchant Center” is no more

The Herald Sun provides some new details on Education Realty Trust’s plans for the old Holiday Inn / “Urban Merchant Center” / school bus graveyard / murder scene / ???. The site had previously been owned by the estate of the late Ronnie Sturdivant who, as you may recall, also owned the “we want Oprah” building downtown.

Sturdivan’ts Urban Merchant Center in all its glory

EdR swooped in and grabbed the property in an auction last year, and given the structure’s state of disrepair it was no surprise when they indicated they would raze it and build something new. They also displaced the two quazi-legit businesses operating on the WCH corners of the block (a gas station and an… old car… thing), although I’m not sure they were in the same parcel as the Holiday Inn proper.

Anyway, to the delight of pretty much everyone (except perhaps the fabled urban merchants themselves), the UMC is now gone:

(if I had time to go over there, there’d be a picture of the vacant lot at this point, but since I don’t you’ll need to use your imagination)

EdR’s prior projects could be considered “boutique” or “upscale” student housing, and this one looks to be targeting a similar demographic of grad students who somehow have enough money to not live in abject squalor. The stated plan is 386 beds, with a mix of single and double bedroom apartments, and by my count there are five stories in the concept rendering.

My take? This looks incredibly promising, and not a soul is going to miss what it’s replacing. This is a primo location that might also be attractive to young professionals working at the ATC or downtown, so it seems to me that it would be smart to not focus exclusively on students.

Also, I’m sure Bill Fields will be ecstatic, since the property he’s been barely holding together directly across the road is going to look a lot more attractive now. Well, in a metaphorical sense; when using your eyes, it looks pretty terrible:

We love you too, Bill!

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