December 17, 2015

Boyle Sees Opportunity in East Memphis

By: Amos Maki
Memphis Daily News

Memphis-based Boyle Investment Co. hopes to break ground next year on a new office building at its Ridgeway Center complex near Poplar Avenue and Shady Grove Road, according to company officials.

“We’re talking to prospects now,” said Mark Halperin, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Boyle. “We’ve had a couple of close calls, and we hope we’ll be able to start it in a reasonable period of time.”

Halperin’s comments come as the availability of Class A office space in East Memphis shrinks. The vacancy rate for Class A space in East Memphis ended the third quarter at 2.9 percent, according to CB Richard Ellis Memphis.

“Basically, all the Class A space is occupied,” said Halperin. “The true Class A buildings are very tight, so it’s a simple supply-and-demand issue.”

Boyle has a 7-acre site at Shady Grove Road and Briarcrest Avenue that is cleared and ready for development. Halperin said plans call for a 175,000-square-foot office building there.

Meanwhile, Boyle hopes to begin construction early next year on a roughly 52,000-square-foot office building inside its Schilling Farms community in Collierville.

Collierville-based Helena Chemical Co.’s Southern Business Unit would occupy half of the two-story building, which will also contain around 5,000 square feet of retail space, at 270 Schilling Blvd., just south of Helena’s existing 100,000-square-foot headquarters in Schilling Farms.

“This is a chance to put more Class A office space on the Collierville market, of which there is very little to none available,” said Halperin.

The Collierville Board of Mayor and Aldermen is scheduled to vote Dec. 8 on $222,537 in tax incentives for the Helena expansion. Helena moved from Memphis to Collierville in 2001 and employs around 275 people in the Memphis suburb.

Boyle’s Schilling Farms has been buzzing with activity.

“Helena’s expansion puts in place another piece of the emerging mixed-use core of the 443-acre Schilling Farms, Collierville’s premier district for corporate headquarters,” said Russell E. “Rusty” Bloodworth, executive vice president at Boyle.

The Helena expansion site completes the southern village core of Schilling Farms, which includes additional retail and Carrington West, a 125-unit multifamily community slated to begin construction in the first quarter of 2015.

Carrington West follows on the heels of the recently completed The Carrington at Schilling Farms, a 112-unit apartment community that began occupancy in June. The Carrington at Schilling Farms was Boyle’s first apartment project in more than 30 years. In addition, Makowsky Ringel Greenberg LLC is building The Signature at Schilling Farms, a $28 million, 251-unit apartment community.

An “abomination.”

That is what a local business organization is calling Bank of America’s decision to close a branch at one of the city’s most prominent intersections, Young Avenue and Cooper Street, the very heart of the Cooper-Young Historic District.

After recently signing a 20-year lease extension at 945 S. Cooper, Bank of America notified property owner Joan Ryan earlier this month that it planned on closing the banking center Feb. 20 but would keep the existing drive-thru open.

Michael Frick, Memphis market president for Bank of America, did not return a phone call seeking comment.

“Shuttered windows and doors at the corner of Cooper and Young is, to say the very least, insensitive to our growth,” said Tamara Cook, executive director of the Cooper-Young Business Association, in an email to supporters. “It is an abomination that the Bank of America would even consider this action.”

Cooper-Young has been riding a wave of success since the early 1990s, when residential and commercial real estate development there really settled into a groove following years of painstaking work by neighborhood stakeholders, and Cook and others feel the bank’s looming abandonment of the key intersection could be a significant setback.

“If they want to leave, fine,” said Cook. “But don’t cripple us with a closed building in the heart of our district.”

Cook has launched a petition on urging Bank of America to close the ATM if it follows through with plans to shut down the walk-in branch.