August 03, 2015

In the Spotlight: Lesley H. Binkley III

By Alan Howell
– Memphis Business Journal –

Les Binkley began his career in commercial real estate at CB Richard Ellis in Memphis. After moving to the west coast, Binkley landed in the Portland, Ore., office of CBRE. With the career goal to be a developer, he took advantage of his locale and entered the Center for Real Estate at Portland State University where in the evenings he studied development through the lens of Portland’s progressive land use planning systems, urban infill initiatives, environmental design requirements and public / private partnership methods. With the urge to build a better Memphis, he returned to the Bluff City in July 2007 to take a job at Boyle.


Age: 31

Hometown: Memphis

Education: B.A., University of Mississippi; Graduate Certificate in Real Estate Development, Portland State

First job: Laid sod in Doug Dickens’ developments for $20 a palate, which I think was a good deal. Most importantly, it sparked my interest in being a developer.

Family: Single

True confessions

Like best about job: Place making

Like least about job: Current economy and lack of general demand in our town

Pet peeves: Litter, sprawl, EIFS, Bradford Pear trees and cell phone earpieces worn while not in use

Most important lesson learned: Listen

Person most interested in meeting: Leon Krier, Frank Lloyd Wright or Buckminster Fuller

Most respected competitor: Henry TurleyCareer goals: Improve the built environment, repair the existing fabric and enhance the public realm.

First choice for a new career: Major League Baseball (front office or on the field)


Favorite quote: “What good is a damn cake if you can’t eat it!”

Most influential book: The Great Gatsby, The Modern Gentleman or The Devil in the White City

Favorite status symbol: Old leather

Favorite movie: From January-November, The Bourne Series. In December, it is always “A Christmas Story.”

Favorite restaurant: Peter Lugar’s or Shake Shack. Locally, 5 Spot, 1912, Los Tortugas, Iris and Jerry’s Car Wash & Sno Cones — We all miss you Mrs. Clifton!

Favorite vacation spot: So far … New Zealand

Favorite way to spend free time: Outside and among friends

Favorite stress reducers: Walk 9, steam, Houston’s; Little Lebowski’s Urban Achievers kickball games; an early evening bike ride or really any change of scenery.

Favorite musicians: Too many to list, but really anyone who doesn’t play new country.

Vehicle: 1988 Cannondale SR500

What do you know

When do you think commercial development will turn around?

Memphis should be able to rebound quicker than other regions, although expect the pace to be quite modest due to lack of demand. Underlying land values still need to fall and land and inventory will not move until they do. The metro area is, of course, overbuilt on the retail front, but that is mainly a result of our tax structure and current land use policy. Office product is in a bit better shape, so with a little job growth and absorption, some speculative development could enter the pipeline. Although Memphis is currently oversupplied in the industrial market, industrial activity is usually an early sign of economic growth so when demand for industrial product picks up, this may be a sign that we are beginning to come out of the hole.