Barreling down Madison Avenue in a black corduroy blazer and a pert, pink pocket square, Bob Loeb seems distracted. Then I realize: he’s editing. Move that tree, put a mural there. Tear that down, build that up.
“What do you think, and be honest,” he inquires. “Put the ballet over there, on the corner? Or across the street, next to Hattiloo?”
For most people, it would be idle speculation – but not for Loeb. Although he didn’t own the land Ballet Memphis ended up buying, he does own 12 acres in the immediate vicinity. Over the last five years, he’s transformed them into some of the most valuable real estate in the city.
Lately, it seems like Bob Loeb is everywhere. Among other accolades, he was named Memphis Magazine’s 2014 Person of the Year for his multimillion-dollar effort to revive Overton Square. So it’s easy to assume that this boyish 61-year-old has always been on top of the world.
In fact, it has been a long and winding road. Along the way, Loeb has built a small empire by making shopping centers feel more like neighborhoods. Maybe more importantly, he has developed a system for listening to community stakeholders and weaving their input into the fabric of his developments.