My review of downtown apartment buildings

People are always e-mailing me and asking me where they can find a good place to live in downtown Memphis. So, in this post I will review all of the major downtown apartment complexes. I have friends all over downtown and have been in almost all of them. I will try to note how familiar I am with each place. Note that these are just my opinions and just facts; your mileage may vary. I will review from north to south. I’m not reviewing apartments on Mud Island or anything east of Danny Thomas; if you can’t walk or take the trolley to everything downtown, I don’t consider it true downtown living. Here we go…

Greenlaw Place

one block north of Auction between Second and Third

Brand-new apartment complex that caters to Memphis residents who earn 60% or less of the median income for the city. Brand new apartments with a pool and a W/D in each unit. I’ve been there for a pool party and have toured a sample unit.

My only gripe with this place is not something the apartments themselves can fix. They’re looking at servers and bartenders downtown as a target market – “take the trolley to and from work!” Well, on weekends the trolley stops running at 1 (WAY too early in my opinion), and the bars don’t close until 2 or later.

Overall though, very nice for the money. The neighborhood around it is in transition but the worst seems to be over. Recommended.

Uptown Square

north of Exchange, near Lauderdale

This is the old Lauderdale Courts, where Elvis once lived. They were once housing projects, and look like it on the outside. However, they’ve been completely renovated on the inside and are VERY nice. Clubhouse, pool, balconies/patios, and I think every unit has washer/dryer. Reasonable rent for downtown. They’re looking into getting wireless Internet for the entire community. A good chance to experience downtown luxury living without the luxury rent. I know one of the people putting this community together, and they’re very serious about recruiting tenants at a variety of income levels, stressing diversity and encouraging neighbors to become friends and learn from each other. Very very cool. I’ve been in the clubhouse and toured a sample apartment. Recommended.

Claridge House

corner of Main and Adams

Very nice hi-rise at the northern end of Main Street Mall. On the trolley line, with restaurants downstairs and a grocery across the street. I know many of the tenants and like all of them. One of them showed me her apartment last year and I was impressed. I believe they have laundry rooms rather than W/Ds; ask about this. They have a pool and party room. Rents are cheaper than in most other downtown buildings. Recommended.

99 Tower Place

Main between Adams and Jefferson

I know several people who live here or used to. There are some positives: among the best views downtown, balconies, near restaurants and grocery stores, on the trolley line. But, from what I’ve seen, the building is in a constant state of disrepair – at least one elevator is usually out, and the hallways I’ve seen look like they’re in process of being remodeled, except that they’ve looked that way for a long long time. This is not a terrible place to live, but not among the best either. Not recommended.

Number 10 Main

Main just south of Madison

This is where I currently live, and I love it. On the trolley line. A Walgreens and an excellent coffee shop (Empire Coffee) are nearby. Full size W/Ds in each unit, big apartments, two restaurant-quality grills and a hot tub on the rooftop, very nice gym in the basement, very nice neighbors. On the downside, rents are higher than most buildings, and you have to pay $80/mo to park in the garage across the alley (sometimes they have specials though). If you look here tell them Paul in #1307 referred you. Recommended.

Exchange Building

Second at Madison

I’ve never been in this building, and have heard mixed reviews. Some people I’ve talked to love it, others complain about the state of repair and the quality of tenants. Rents are probably the cheapest downtown. Laundry rooms rather than W/D in units. I’m neutral on this one; if the combination of central downtown location + cheap rent is what you’re looking for, this is perhaps the place for you. Otherwise, you may want to look at some of the nearby alternatives.

Shrine Building

Front at Monroe

Very nice building, great rooftop with hot tub, very nice neighbors. I’ve been in a couple of the units and on the roof. Can’t remember if they have W/D in the units or a laundry room. Overall, a very good place to live downtown. Recommended.

Echelon at the Ballpark

I lived here from February ’02 to February ’03 and vacated as soon as my lease was up. My advice is to check out and read tenants’ reviews. The walls were thin, and there wasn’t a security guard in the building at night. Based on my experience there, not recommended, but I give them credit for trying to improve recently. Several friends of mine have moved in recently and like it. Use your own judgment.

Gayoso House and Pembroke Square

Front/Main at Peabody Place

On the trolley line, grocery store downstairs, a short walk to most downtown attractions. Very nice apartments, good rooftop deck. I’ve had friends in both Gayoso and Pembroke and have been impressed with both buildings. The downside is that this is right in the heart of downtown which can mean traffic jams getting in and out on weekend nights. One of my top picks downtown. Recommended.

Mulberry Square

Mulberry between Talbot and Huling

I have friends that live here, and am impressed – brand new apartments, beautiful garden area. W/Ds in units. Friendly neighbors. Walking distance to the South Main arts district and to Raiford’s. Recommended.

Hotline Lofts

Main at Huling

Have never been in these, and don’t know anyone who lives there. No rating.

Central Station

Main at G.E. Patterson

I’ve heard mixed reviews about this place too. Several people I have known have loved it there, but more recently I have heard complaints about getting repairs done in a timely fashion. Right in the heart of South Main, on the trolley line. Rents are about average for downtown. I’m neutral on this one.

The Lofts

Tennessee at G.E. Patterson

The people I know who live there love it. I have toured the model unit and it is quite nice. Exposed brick, hardwood floors, big open loft space that you can set up any way you want. Pool and community area on roof. Parking garage across street with covered entrance. Among the priciest apartments downtown, but you may feel the price is worth it after seeing them. Recommended.

South Bluffs

Entrance at G.E. Patterson west of Tennessee

Gated community with a feel similar to Charleston, Savannah or Mud Island. Above average prices and amenities for downtown. I find it a little off the beaten path, but females who have safety issues with some of the more centrally-located places might want to look here. Pools, balconies and all the usual amenities. I’ve been in a couple of units and they’re quite nice. Half a block from the riverfront trolley loop. Recommended.

The Rivermark

On Riverside Drive south of downtown

Hi-rise with balconies overlooking the river. Used to be a hotel and has changed ownership several times. Have not been in this building since it became apartments, but most of the people I know who have lived here have liked it. Still, it’s just too darn far away from everything for me to recommend it – it’s a quarter mile even to South Main and the trolley loop. Average prices for downtown. Neutral, but if a great view of the river is your #1 criterion for downtown living, you should look here.

In summary…

Best location, if you like being where the action is


Shrine Building

Number 10 Main

Best location, if you want to live away from it all

South Bluffs

Mud Island

Must luxurious

Number 10 Main

The Lofts

Pembroke Square

Best value

Claridge House

Uptown Square

Exchange Building

Places I’ve heard the most complaints about

99 Tower Place

Echelon at the Ballpark

Exchange Building