24. Texas Visionary Brings Development, Love to Oxford

    Blake Tartt III invests love and money in Oxford.
    Blake Tartt III invests love and money in Oxford.

    PureRyde, Starbucks, Mattress Firm among companies opening new stores in Oxford.

    Blake Tartt III is a fifth-generation Houston-based entrepreneur with a Texas-sized love for Oxford and Ole Miss. The nationally recognized real estate strategist and investor is a 1984 Ole Miss graduate who is throwing a high-energy party on October 11th. The Powerhouse-hosted event is by invitation only for Tartt’s closest Rebel, Aggie and Oxford friends prepping for the October 12th Texas A&M game.

    “I like to say I work in Houston and live in Oxford, because Oxford is much more than a town — it’s a way of life,” said Tartt who shared some great economic news during a recent exclusive interview with Hottytoddy.com. Tartt announced that a high-end fitness and cycling company he is associated with, PureRyde, would soon begin operations in a renovated studio in the Vieux Carré building on The Square.

    PureRyde’s mission statement offers “a truly functional, dynamic and engaging indoor workout. Much more than just a gym, PureRyde offers a full service fitness and lifestyle studio designed to empower clients to succeed on their journey to healthy living.”

    Blake Tartt III has felt empowered to love Oxford since making his first trip here in the spring of 1980 for Sigma Chi Derby Day. Tartt says he has embraced the southern charm and culture that makes Oxford unique.

    “In my opinion Oxford is one of the great American towns,” he said. “I have been successful as an innovator in regional planning, executing a vision for real estate development that fuses landscaping and environmental amenities that are distinctive and high quality. Oxford has all the advantages you could desire in a growing community — great education, health care, natural resources like timber and water, and most of all, wonderful people.”

    Tartt expressed his appreciation for city leadership. “Oxford really is a well-run city,” he said, adding that he is pleased to own property in his adopted hometown. “How many towns in America do you find the street-sweeping vehicles waking you up every morning? You don’t find littering, crime or bad streets. The Ole Miss campus is one of the most beautiful in America. The way Oxford and Ole Miss are cared for reflects the great pride residents and visitors have for this energetic town.”

    Tartt does not hesitate to put his money where his vision is for the future — back in Oxford and Ole Miss. He is CEO of New Regional Planning in Houston, Texas and his new investment vehicle for the “New South,” NRP-Oxford. He says Starbucks and Mattress Firm are part of development plans he is working on for the former Burger King on West Jackson Avenue.

    “I want to be part of projects that advance and preserve the quality of life and excellent image that Oxford holds around the country,” Tartt said. “Innovation and progress are part of that image — but so is the tradition and culture of this crossroads to Southern class, culture and cuisine.”

    Andy Knef, Managing Editor, HottyToddy.com

    –You can email Andy at andy.knef@hottytoddy.com

    4 COMMENTS

    1. Starbucks…Mattress Firm…projects that will definitely preserve the quality of life in Oxford, indeed. Of course, if one’s memory of Oxford is from Derby Day (which was the highlight of an alcohol-fueled Dixie Week, which is now gone (think: banned)), well, food and sleep may be the extent of one’s memory. But wait, no drive through liquor store? Tsk.

      • Not sure what the issue is chief…..Mr. Tartt also owns some buildings around the square that are leased to local businesses…. As for Starbucks, I guess you prefer an empty shell of an ex burger joint? Pure Ryde looks pretty cool concept as well….only one other in Austin, TX.
        One thing about Ole MIss ,is that it has always lured out of state students like Mr .Tartt. He gives back to the city he has grown to love and lives here half the time. What have you given back to the community sir? Besides your disparaging comments, I’m doubting nothing at all. So you also have an issue with Derby Day? That event that raises thousands for the kidney foundation every year? Go figure. My first visit to Ole Miss was also to Derby Day…that’s all it took for me. We may have indulged in a few adult beverages….but I guess you were above that……right, just what I thought… Drive through liquor store? Great idea..let us know when YOU invest and open one so we can tell everyone….. Always the buzz kill at the party too I bet.
        I am out.

        • Well, son…

          A business venture is not by mere definition alone “giving back” to a community, as much as some like to argue. There is an attitude in Oxford that “growth” by nature or definition is a positive thing. If one considers what linear growth truly means, takes the idea to its logical conclusion, such growth is not only unsustainable, but negative and destructive….at least for those who are left with the crumbling buildings, the overburdened infrastructures, the vast number of overpriced, empty “condos” and houses.

          What may have escaped your undeniable intellect is that I attacked the idea that a franchise and a mattress store were “….projects that advance and preserve the quality of life and excellent image that Oxford holds around the country.” They are just mere business ventures, not unique, and provide no killer wages for anyone, unless one takes into account the potential pay for the owner of such operations.

          But you really don’t know anything about Oxford; of that I am pretty sure.

          I’ve lived in Oxford since 1972. My first Derby Day was around 1978. I doubt you were a gleam in anyone’s eye by either of those dates. I also doubt you’ve given anything to Oxford other than paying your bar tabs and eating at local establishments. Oh, you may pay rent, and you’ve probably tossed some tuition money into Ole Miss’ coffers (I hesitate to presume you have a degree), but if tossing money into businesses and the local university is to be considered “giving back”, I have given far, far more back to Oxford than you, I am sure. And, I literally had my name on a bar in this town for more than a few years; I know a thing or two about drinking, if not being a drunk, as if that’s something to brag about. (It isn’t.)

          I knew the Hoka rather intimately – was there for its birth as well as death; drank at the Warehouse and the Gin; drank with Willie Morris, Barry Hannah, Larry Brown and others. I’ve cooked for John Grisham and family (Harvest Cafe and Bakery); I’ve known Oxford in its true glory (although some much older than I may argue that even I missed that), glory that did not include “condo” after “condo” and bar after bar, and West Jackson was a road one could drive down at most times of the day without too much frustration. One could rent an apartment without having to take out a loan.

          In many ways, Oxford remains a quaint town, but over the years, developers with a “vision…for the future” have come in, made some bucks, and left. Anyone who considers that good for Oxford is, well, as you say, ‘out’.

          • “Thank you Sir may I have another” !

            Also thanks for the lesson on economics and linear growth. I seem to recall that in ECON 404…..although I squeaked by I admit .
            I believe anyone who moves to Oxford and starts or builds a business and pays property taxes on highly visible and valuable properties should get a pass on criticism because any contribution to the local economy is good for Oxford.That includes you and your bar as well. I wish I had the means to do what Mr.Tartt has done and will continue to do. He is a “can do” guy.

            Granted I have not lived in Oxford since 1972 ( i wish but my career can’t be done from there) and I commend you for being a part of the community. However I have been very frequent visitor since 1976 and also spent many late nights at the Hoka, drank the overpriced rip-off drinks at the Gin in plastic cups, loved hanging at the original JW Forresters…while two of my room-mates bartended there. Can’t make the claim of hanging with Willie…although I did help carry him out of the Gin one night if that counts!

            I was at the same Dreby Day as you in 78…
            Who knows…we probably spilled a drink on each other.

            Oxford has both benefited and some would say suffered from its own popularity. I am sure living there can be frustrating with growing pains. But I would take it in a minute over Jackson. You are fortunate…… As for the condos
            ( the Eli effect) I am sure there is a glut but it was time for Oxford to come out of the dark ages and offer lodging outside of the Best Westerm on Hwy6, and the old Ramada.

            Thanks for pointing out my intellect….I forgot I had any…Must have been too many trips to local color in the day.

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