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The coming 18-story River Market Tower

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In a couple of years, a squarely hit tennis ball will thonk within earshot of the River Market. Basketballs will bounce, hoops will swish.

The sounds will be coming from the rooftop over the parking garage for Moses Tucker’s newest venture: River Market Tower, an 18-story condo and retail building at Third and Rock streets.

The tower is just one part of the $80 million River Market Place development that Jimmy Moses and Rett Tucker hope to break ground on in May 2007. River Market Place will also include an eight-story hotel at Fourth and Commerce, new retail space in the Tuf-Nut Lofts along Commerce and on the ground floor of the tower, and a small park in the middle. And, of course, a tennis court and basketball court atop the tower garage.

The River Market Tower will house 150 “below-market” priced condos, Moses said, starting at $199,900 for a 750-square-foot one-bedroom. Two-bedrooms will top out at $500,000. The tower will include penthouses up to 5,000 square feet as well.

“We’re not selling a building, we’re selling a neighborhood,” Tucker said of the enterprise, the first of the firm’s projects in which it will be the lead investor. Are they going out on a limb, adding 150 new condos downtown that, while “below-market,” are still fairly pricey?

They don’t think so. Tucker said the move to downtown living is a phenomenon that’s “happening all over the country,” and that he and Moses are constantly being contacted by people looking for both residential and retail space downtown. In October, when the two sat down with a reporter about the plans, the firm had just sold nine condos in a week’s time at The Cliffs, which Moses Tucker manages. “There’s greater acceptance of the product,” Tucker said. He believes the tower will contribute to a “great urban neighborhood.” Metropolitan Bank is providing financing.

The hotel, at Fourth and Commerce, will be operated by the McKibbon group, most likely as a Hampton Inn and Suites. Parking will be in the Capital Commerce building deck on Third. Tower residents will be allowed to use a pool and fitness center in the hotel.

Five retail storefronts in the Tuf-Nut building will total 5,000 square feet; one will include a sample build-out of a River Market Tower condo to illustrate what the kitchen will look like and what building materials are available.

The condo tower will include 7,000 square feet of retail space on Third Street.

The entrance to the condo tower will be off Third in a “paseo” — a 35-foot-wide passage between it and the Tuf-Nut lofts that will widen out to create a 16,500-square-foot park between the hotel and the tower. “We think our buyers will like it,” Tucker said. The park will have a water feature and places to picnic.

To pull the development together aesthetically, designers are using what Tucker called the “River Market treatment” — brick paved sidewalks and ornamental lampposts. The hotel will have a brick façade and the tower will have brick bands as accents on its glass and concrete exterior. Rick Redden of AMR Architecture is the architect.

The firm will start pre-selling units in the tower before the end of November. The building is to open in January 2009.

— Leslie Newell Peacock

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