August 03, 2015

New Class A Office in East Memphis Will Offer Plush Amenities, Finishes

By John Scruggs
– Memphis Business Journal –

Steel is on site and going vertical at the first Class A office project breaking ground in East Memphis. With five new Class A buildings scheduled for delivery over the next two years, the upper end of Memphis office space is about to change.

Though the skins of new Boyle Investment Co., Highwoods Properties, Inc., and Peck Investment Co. buildings will look similar to previous offerings, new office space in Memphis will offer a level of finish never before available.

Capping what will be 1.4 million square feet of office space, the first of Boyle’s two new Class A, 155,000-square-foot buildings is under construction and executive vice president Mark Halperin says tenants could be moving in by June 2008.

Aside from the obvious need for more Class A square footage in East Memphis, the new crop of buildings represents the next step in office design for the city.

Efficiency, high levels of finish and more flexible floorplates are central to building plans for what has been dubbed the SunTrust building, with Boyle securing the anchor tenant earlier this year.

“This building is going to be more efficient, using less power and less water than previous buildings,” Halperin says. “It will have more redundant HVAC systems and floor by floor control of separate heating and cooling units.”

Though exterior renderings and even a 3-D video presentation of the new buildings show actual details and realism that is unprecedented, Halperin says Boyle’s position as a developer and long-term holder of it’s properties manifests itself in designs and layouts that will stand the test of time. The bones of the new buildings will be as timeless as the old ones.

“We think about these projects as if we’re going to own them forever,” he says, noting that he helped move boxes into Boyle’s current headquarters building in 1973.

Boyle’s building, at 999 Shady Grove, will have 80 underground parking spots with about 550 total for six floors of office space. Granite and hardwood paneling will finish all common areas in the building and card access will control garage, lobby and floor entry.

Private floor to ceiling stalls in bathrooms and separate ventilation will also differentiate the building from previous offerings. The 25,000-square-foot, column- free floorplates allow flexible configurations for each floor. Hnedak Bobo Group designed the two Boyle buildings and Mid-America Construction Co. is building them.

On Poplar, backing up to Ridgeway Center, Highwoods Properties has announced its 150,000-square-foot Triad Center, and further east on Aaron Brenner Drive, developer David Peck has started work on Legacy Center adjacent to Renaissance Center.

Peck, former head of Weston Cos., says technology is a must for any new office development, but high levels of finish and amenities help market the properties, attracting and retaining tenants.

“I’ve always been a big believer in subtle details,” Peck says. “That’s something I take pride in from my time with Weston.”

Peck Investment Co.’s Legacy Center is paying special attention to common areas and bathrooms in particular. He describes them as five-star hotel restroom facilities with water closets and luxury finishes.

“In a speculative building, what I call a mystery building, you have to build in attractions to attract the greatest number of tenants while keeping your costs in line,” he says, adding that Legacy Center is already 85% pre-leased.

Common areas for each floor’s elevator doors feature polished stainless steel. Granite columns and floors and wood molding abound. Peck says amenities can prove challenging in today’s market with construction costs running high.

Peck estimates that construction costs may have gone up as much as 37% in the last two years, since the completion of Weston’s Briarcrest Professional Building. He expects delivery of Legacy Center between April and May of 2008.

Operating costs continue to be a factor in building design, and for both Boyle and Peck, HVAC controls and various thermostats with central computer controls seem to be the answer.

“We’re using a variable air box to control the two sides of each floor,” Peck says. “It can be challenging for corner offices during fall and winter with sun coming in on one side of the floor and the other side requiring heat.”

From the outside, landscaping can also cut operating expenses. Peck says over the years he has identified several low maintenance tree species that cut back on landscaping costs.

“We spend money on that up front, because, for me, it gives the building a lot more curb appeal.”