Poplar Avenue / US 72 and West Avenue
Germantown, Tennessee

By the late 1980s, the ever-evolving retail scene in America was poised for substantial change. The fully-enclosed shopping mall format had reached market maturity. Mall building binges of the 1970s and '80s slowed considerably following the 1987 mini-market crash and savings & loan crisis credit crunch.

Studies seemed to show that consumers no longer had the time to wile away hours at the typical, mega-sized mall. According to these reports, patrons wanted to park close to where they were going to shop and not spend a lot of time doing so.

In May 1981, the Poag & Thomason Development Company was formed in 
Memphis, Tennessee. The firm started out by building supermarket-anchored strip centers. Eventually, Kroger, their primary tenant, opted out of any further participation in their endeavors.

G. Dan Poag, Junior and William H. Thomason, the company's founders, devised an entirely new plan for shopping center development and gave it a Madison Avenue spin. The new retail format would eschew traditional department store and supermarket anchors and be tenanted exclusively by upscale boutiques and restaurants.

This new age retail venue would be open-air in configuration. It would feature grand architecture, fountains and high-quality landscaping. Moreover, shopping centers would be small, only in the neighborhood of 100,000 to 200,000 square feet, and be located in affluent communities.

Terry McEwen, well-known in the retail leasing field, was brought into the company in 1984. Plans for the first new-style "specialty center" were soon underway. A 9.9 acre tract was acquired. This was located 13.1 miles southeast of center city Memphis, in suburban Germantown.

THE SHOPS OF SADDLE CREEK opened for business in the spring of 1987. The single-level, U-shaped complex encompassed a modest 74,800 leasable square feet and housed stores such as Polo Ralph Lauren, Laura Ashley and G.H. Bass.

A second phase, known as SADDLE CREEK SOUTH, was built on an adjacent 4.1 acre plot, situated southwest of the original complex. It enveloped 39,900 leasable square feet and contained retailers such as Eddie Bauer, Gap Kids, Talbots, Harold's, James Davis Clothing and Hemming's Restaurant. 

Stores opened during 1989, with the original (circa-1987) structure being renamed SADDLE CREEK NORTH. By this time, the company was developing a second shopping center. ONE PACIFIC PLACE, in Omaha, Nebraska, would commence operation in September 1989. 

At this time, a new corporate moniker was instituted, which reflected the marketing focus on "today's busy lifestyle"; Poag & McEwen Lifestyle Centers. By the mid-1990s, "lifestyle center", a term devised by G. Dan Poag in 1989, had become the buzzword in the retail industry.

SADDLE CREEK WEST, a third -and final- installment of THE SHOPS OF SADDLE CREEK, opened between August 4th and 15th, 1995. The 22,800 square foot structure was situated on 2.5 acres, located northwest of, and adjacent to, SADDLE CREEK SOUTH. 

The new building comprised 4 stores; Talbots Petits, Britches Great Outdoors, Structure Men's Wear and Eddie Bauer Home. With its completion, THE SHOPS OF SADDLE CREEK encompassed approximately 137,500 leasable square feet and contained 40 stores and services.

By the turn of the century, lifestyle centers had opened, or were being developed, across the United States. Among the more prominent of these were MIZNER PARK (1990) {Boca Raton, Florida}, CENTRE AT POST OAK (1995) {Houston, Texas}, CORONA DEL MAR PLAZA (1998) {Newport Beach, California}, STREETS OF WOODFIELD (2000) {Schaumburg, Illinois} and BROOKSIDE SHOPS (2003) {Acton, Massachusetts}.

In 2002, there had been 30 lifestyle-format shopping centers. This number had increased to 140 by 2004. By 2008, the Poag & McEwen firm, itself, had been involved in the development of 12 such facilities. 

Poag & McEwen sold THE SHOPPES OF SADDLE CREEK in December 2003, with Chicago's Heitman Capital Management becoming its new proprietor. Heitman hired Fort Worth's Trademark Property Company in May 2011. They would manage and lease the complex and oversee a major renovation.

Phase 1 got underway in mid-2014. SADDLE CREEK SOUTH was given a face lift, with new facades, lighting, signage and landscaping installed. 20,000 square feet of retail area was added. The second phase of the renovation was centered on SADDLE CREEK NORTH and WEST. These structures were also given face lifts, with the former being expanded by 5,000 square feet.

The refurbishments were completed in late 2016. The official name of the retail hub was shortened to SADDLE CREEK. 18 new tenants had been signed, with the total GLA of the shopping center being expanded to 173,000 square feet. There were now 53 tenant spaces.  

Sources: (Poag & McEwen Lifestyle Centers)
Shelby County, Tennessee property tax assessor website