July 22, 2015

Biotech Industry, FedEx Lure Center for Tissue Banks

By Jane Aldinger
– Memphis Business Journal –

The nonprofit network of eye and tissue banks will hire about 20 employees to run the 24-hour operation. Tissue Banks’ decision to locate in Memphis was largely based on FedEx and the growing biotech industry.

“Establishing the National Eye Bank Center in Memphis afforded close proximity to the worldwide headquarters of FedEx for the expeditious shipment of sight-restoring ocular tissues and to the area’s thriving medical and biotech communities,” says Kathleen C. Terlizzese, vice president of public information with Tissue Banks.

The center will centralize the screenings, evaluation and shipping of eye tissue recovered by member eye banks and other non-member eye banks for corneal transplant surgery and for ocular research.

Tissue Banks has leased 8,000 square feet at Moriah Woods office park to set up the center. Moriah Woods is 10 minutes from the main FedEx hub and the leased space required minimal renovations.

Staff members trained in the screening, evaluation and distribution of human eye tissue for transplant surgery and research will occupy the center. It will ensure that participating eye banks will be able to meet the increasingly comprehensive oversight requirements of FDA regulations.

“The National Eye Bank Center will also help us ensure a more uniform standard of quality, provide better operating efficiencies and allow us to make more tissues available for both transplant surgery and eye research, Terlizzese says.

Its network includes 33 U.S. locations and 42 members in the International Federation of Eye and Tissue Banks. The organization was founded with one eye bank in Maryland in 1962. It provides corneas and other eye tissue for sight-restoring transplant surgery.

Moriah Woods, located at Mt. Moriah and I-240, is a 155,138-square-foot office park owned by Boyle Investment Co. Boyle purchased the park in August 2003 and has implemented property improvements to boost leasing.

Boyle installed an eight-foot fence around the 15 acre property, replaced the roof on two buildings and added two wrought iron swing gates to provide enhanced security for tenants after hours and on weekends, say Tom Hutton, leasing agent and property manager.

The park is currently about 53% leased and its tenants include Worldwide Mortgage, Valenti Mid-South Management, the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Image Solutions.

Moriah Woods is a “hidden jewel” in East Memphis, says Boyle executive vice president Mark Halperin.

“(Moriah Woods) can provide tenants with a viable, cost-effective alternative to office space in the Poplar Corridor,” he says.

The park’s advertised lease rate is $13.50 per square foot. The average asking lease rate in the East Memphis submarket is $17.60 per square foot.