Landmark and Legend
Memphis, TN
Here we note legends-in-their-own-time and landmarks as they transition into history

One of the buildings to be removed to make way for a new, bigger Kroger store in Poplar Plaza
Poplar Plaza Addition,
Prescott Street strip, northwest area

One of the first suburban shopping centers in the nation, Poplar Plaza is undergoing another major redevelopment. If you remember stores such as York Arms sporting goods, Western Auto (?), Poplar Plaza Barber Shop, Britlings Cafeteria, and recently Dollar Tree, GNC Nutrition, and Tasty Buffet, you will know the buildings that are about to be demolished. [Editor's note: a little research will be done in the near future to confirm and add to the store names that once were located in these buildings.]

Kroger wants a bigger grocery, so the buildings once occupied by the stores named above will be torn down and a new grocery built while Kroger continues to operate out of the building it has occupied for more than 40 years. The last occupants of the targeted buildings left in late February, 2012, and the demolition teams quickly began preparing to raze the buildings.

Poplar Plaza originally only fronted Poplar Avenue, which is now the southern most portion of the shopping center. The buildings to be removed for the new, larger Kroger store, the old York Arms, etc, were an addition north of city street Plaza Drive. That roadway still exists but apparently has become a private drive as it no longer has city street signage. It is not confirmed at this point when that addition took place, but perhaps around 1960. Further research on this will be conducted.

Poplar Plaza has had a very interesting history. Built in 1949, it was one of the nation's first suburban shopping centers and was the location of many upscale stores, including Lowenstein's "East", Franklin Simon, the Plaza Theater, Walgreen's, First Tennessee Bank, Union Planters Bank, as well as Woolworth's, J.C. Penny, Kroger, and McCory's. By the 1990s, though, most of the department stores had moved or closed and the shopping center was in decline with a lot of empty storefronts. As the '90s came to an end, however, the retail area experienced major revival and in the 2000s the retail and offices were nearly 100% occupied. In fact, Kroger's new building had to wait while leases expired for the many establishments that occupied the two buildings that are to be demolished.

It is reported the portion of the building that houses the current Kroger, used to house Poplar Plaza Bowling Alley below,
an optometrist's office on ground level, and perhaps the area that was originally occupied by Woolworth's, will be demolished to expand the parking area.

Because the scale is rather large, several wide shots of the buildings to be demolished are provided below.

The lastest photo taken June 28, 2012, shows the surface preparation in progress for the new Kroger. The site extends well to the east of where the old, now demolished, building along Prescott Street stood. This photo is oriented from southwest corner of the construction area to the northeast corner. You can see the existing Kroger sign and roof line just above the mound of dirt on the left.
Ground preparation for new Kroger. Photo taken June 28, 2012.

Demolition was underway as of April 14, 2012, shown immediately below, as heavy equipment takes down the building which once housed Britlings Cafeteria and most recently the site of Tasty Buffet on the east side and Momentum Physical Rehabilitation Center on the south. The building in the background will also be demolished.
Demolition underway April 14, 2012

Poplar Plaza buildings to give way for larger Kroger
Above you can see the two buildings which parallel Prescott Street which will be demolished. The existing Kroger store is in the building at the far right and will continue to operate there while the new store is built. It is reported, however, that once the new Kroger is open, the portion of the building housing the current Kroger will be demolished and the parking lot expanded to cover that area. The current Kroger not only occupies the area where that store first moved into that building, but it has expanded over the years to take over the area that was the bowling alley and, if memory serves correctly, an optometrist's office, and probably where Woolworth's used to be.

Poplar Plaza buildings to give way for larger Kroger
This is the "back side" or Prescott Avenue side of the same buildings, looking to the north. This photo is from the same approximate perspective as is the one above showing demolition beginning.

Poplar Plaza buildings to give way for larger Kroger
The far building which was occupied by Britlings Cafeteria originally and most recently by Tasty Buffet, will also be demolished but the building that housed the non-restaurant stores is shown here. This is where York Arms, Western Auto (that may be an incorrect recollection) were originally, followed in recent times by Dollar Tree, GNC, and other stores.

The new Kroger opened March 20, 2013. The new building replaces those described and pictured above. The building which housed the old Kroger can be seen at the far right. It is to be demolished to provide additional parking. Read more about the old building in our report on it.