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Murray Journal

What’s the best use for the old Best Buy location?

May 07, 2024 12:43PM ● By Ella Joy Olsen

An emerging trend, the shuttering of big box stores making way for new residential and mixed-use development. What to expect with The Point @ 53rd which will be redeveloped and will include new residential restaurants and retail businesses. (Ella Joy Olsen/City Journals)

Best Buy is now closed, and changes are afoot for The Pointe @ 53rd. 

Gary Howland is the principal and owner of Howland Partners, which is the managing member of The Pointe @ 53rd.  They were also the original development team when Best Buy and Barnes & Noble were built, in about 2000.

“I want the community to know that I am from Murray, and I love the city. Many developers would maximize the use of an A+ site like this and sell,” Howland said. “But this property is in an irreplicable location, and I would anticipate it never being sold during my lifetime. It has transit nearby for a walkable livable community, so I want to do what is needed to update the center and bring new business to the area.”

To note, Howland did not develop and does not own the Starbucks, Chick-fil-A and Chipotle properties, however he has been working with Chick-fil-A to improve their drive thru lanes, allowing them to encroach onto his property to alleviate the exit traffic. 

Will it be for the Best (Buy)?

Up for development is the 12-acre site that currently houses the shuttered Best Buy, Barnes & Noble, Mimi’s Cafe and other commercial properties.

In 2021, the entire property was rezoned to CMU (Centers Mixed-Use) and now will be developed as such, with a combination of commercial and residential uses.

The hope is that a mixed-use property will allow for more access to housing while retaining commercial space for tax revenue. 

In a 2021 Facebook post Howland claimed, “If successful, the revenue brought to the city from property taxes will far exceed what The Pointe currently generates.” He later explained, “Because the current property valuation is around $40 million, and we anticipate the new value to be in excess of $150 million.” 

As rumored, Barnes & Noble will also be torn down as part of the redevelopment. However, book lovers need not fear, as the bookstore has entered into a letter of intent to move to another Murray site in or near the Fashion Place Mall. 

Other buildings on the site will be remodeled but not removed.

Have a say

Howland indicated that plans for the development will likely be submitted to the city planning department by early April. After the planning commission is comfortable with all requirements, design criteria and setbacks, Howland plans to make the plans available to the public. Focus groups to meet with residents to take questions and suggestions will be planned. 

“When we were approved [for the zoning change] we promised the citizens that we would include their input, and strictly adhere to city requirements.” Howland wrote on a resident’s Facebook page, later adding. "It is difficult to develop a property of this size by committee, but we plan to take seriously the comments and appease the residents to any extent possible.”

Murray resident and community advocate Clark Bullen said of the proposed development, “If you remember, there was a fervor of community pushback when the zoning was changed. We continue to be worried about density and developers replacing historic buildings.” 

“But here’s what I hope,” Bullen continued. “I hope they don’t go to maximum density or height. No one wants a huge tower over the park, changing the dynamics and sightlines. People already feel a little overwhelmed by the seven-story development on Vine.” 


Zoning for the site allows for 529 apartments, but Howland envisions building somewhere between 360 to 400 housing units, with a mix of micro, studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom dwellings. 

“Being so close to the hospital, there is some market interest in micro-units of about 400 square feet, which is what would land us in the dwelling count of the low 400s,” Howland said. “Think about a traveling nurse who works evenings, who wants to be close to the hospital, that’s who would like a micro-unit.”

“The structure we plan to build is called a five-over-two podium,” Howland explained. “You cannot build over five stories high with wood construction, so there will be five levels of living over a two-story concrete parking structure, and ground-level townhomes in front of the parking so it doesn't look like a parking garage.”

So basically, the building will be a total of seven-stories, but there will be setbacks and leveling, and Howland indicates he could build much higher based on the zoning allowances, but he doesn’t want to overwhelm the site. 

Also, with the intent of creating a livable community and not overwhelming the nearby park and rec center amenities, the complex will have its own workout facilities, business rooms, pickleball courts, swimming pool, rooftop firepits and barbecue amenities. 

They’ll also have indoor and outdoor dog runs, and even a dog grooming business within the development itself. “Citizens indicated they didn’t want a housing development full of people with dogs to overtake Murray Park,” Howland said. “So that’s why we plan to include the dog amenities.”

Howland is applying to make this a HUD financed project, so units will only be available for rent initially. But he added, “We will look to see how many units can be viably worked in as affordable housing, based on citizen feedback we’ve already received about providing affordable living for the community.”

Restaurants and Shopping

Construction on one-of-three planned new restaurants will begin within the year, a collaboration between Bonefish Grill and Outback Steakhouse. The new structure will be 10,000 square feet of shared dining space, where customers can dine in and order from either restaurant’s menus.

After construction is complete, The Pointe @ 53rd will no longer be “one long shopping center” but will have two separate apartment buildings with traffic flow through the middle, including a pedestrian walkway accessing the retail, dining and courtyard areas.

Employees and residents will be required to park in the garage structure located behind the shopping center, which will boast 1,300 new stalls, leaving room for the restaurants and retail in front, facing west toward State Street.


“Traffic will make or break how people feel about this project,” Bullen said. “Traffic on 5300 is close to Hillcrest Jr. High, and at certain times of the day can be extra busy. It would be awful if a student was clipped by a car.”  

According to Murray City code, the project requires a traffic study. “Traffic flow is paramount,” Howland agreed. “Anything I do must pass the traffic study and will dictate parameters of the project.” 

Howland guarantees that none of the traffic will be funneled into the park. There will be no direct access for vehicles. “We want to make sure cars do not drive through the park as a shortcut to get to Vine Street.” 


Howland is aware of the form-based code being considered for the downtown block, which will be a codified effort to create a consistent look and feel for the downtown Murray area.

“We’d be happy to look at the new aesthetic plan if the city feels like they’d like us to meet the design guide,” he said. “But we already intend to stay with the brick-look already present in Murray, as much as possible.”

Bullen agreed. “In a perfect world the development will match the historic look and feel of Murray’s downtown Block One. But I also realize that demonizing and fighting a developer is a fruitless endeavor after the zoning has been changed. It’s best to work with the developer for the best path forward, because they are the ones ultimately making the design decisions.”λ