January 4, 2016 10:35 AM, EST
TAG Truck Center Plans $20 Million Development at Former Mall Site

A Memphis, Tennessee-based freight truck dealership plans to build a $20 million center on the old Mall of Memphis property it recently purchased for $3.9 million.

TAG Truck Center will consolidate its four Memphis-area operations onto 40 acres bounded by American Way and I-240, company President Tommy Earl said Jan. 4.

The TAG operations' acreage will comprise the center portion of the 113 acres. The company plans to sell the rest of the land that can be developed, which is about 48 acres, said Earl, who founded the company with Chief Financial Officer Gary Dodson.

TAG sells Freightliner, Mitsubishi and Sprinter trucks. Dodson and Earl started TAG (which stands for Tommy and Gary) in 2007, when they bought four dealership locations from Barloworld Truck Center.

TAG now has 10 full-service dealerships in five states.

"We're a commercial truck dealer. It's like a car dealership except everything is bigger,'' Earl said.

If all goes to plan, construction will start this summer, and the center will open in 2017. TAG's 165 employees would move to the American Way address from facilities on Brooks Road and in West Memphis.

Those operations comprise a new-and used-truck sales site, a parts distribution center, a parts and service center, all on Brooks, and a body shop in West Memphis. Company headquarters is on  East Brooks Road.

The site plan for the new development includes positioning the retail center to front American Way, but having new trucks facing I-240, Earl said.

The site fits TAG's needs.

"I think it's going to be really good,'' Earl said. "We looked at sites on Brooks,'' where he said, all TAG's major competitors except one are located.

"We'll wander off on our own,'' he said of the future location.

TAG's new trucks sell on average for $145,000 to $155,000. Most new-truck sales are fleet sales.

The new facilities will include assessment bays in the service garage, and a "nice'' lobby, showers and other accommodations for drivers who may have to wait a few days on a substantial repair, Earl said.

The repair shop will be air-conditioned, which is uncommon in the industry, he said.

TAG's purchase of the property closed Dec. 29, according to the Shelby County Register's website. TAG bought the property from the would-be developer of speculative industrial buildings.

Huntington Industrial Partners-Atlanta and Johnson Development Associates in September sought a 15-year, $24.7 million tax break from the Economic Development Growth Engine Board to build industrial buildings on the site.

But the board voted to delay a decision because it had never issued a payment in lieu of taxes for speculative projects before.

The spurned developers made good on their warning to sell the property to a trucking business — which they did not identify at the time — if the tax break was not granted.

Johnson Development bought the 113 acres for $2.7 million in 2012. The mall was razed nearly 12 years ago.