July 12, 2016

This Land is Their Land

By David A. Fox
– Business Tennessee –

Chief among the Founding Fathers’ justifications for tying property ownership to suffrage was that it ensured voters had a vested interest in seeing their governments well managed and fiscally restrained. Of course, issues of fairness won out, and by 1850 all states had extended the voting franchise to non-property owners.

Still, in this election season it is especially interesting to find who has invested the most in Tennessee property and arguably has the most financially at stake in the continued good governance of our state.

To do this, Business Tennessee turned to Nashville-based real estate data publisher InfoCode, whose RealtyEyes.com Web site contains property tax records, aerial photos, tax and GIS maps, and sales and mortgage data on all 95 Tennessee counties. We used all those resources and more to compile our list.

Because we relied on tax records, only private, for-profit property owners are included. So that excludes entities like Vanderbilt University, whose not-for-profit holdings easily exceed $1 billion. Also, our figures are based on assessed or appraised values, which usually are below-often well below-market prices. And finally, discovering a company’s properties when there are numerous and differing corporate and partnership names is a tricky task, and one that in some cases resulted in understated totals.

Caveats aside, the following list reveals the names of 20 companies with Volunteer State property holdings of $100 million to nearly $1 billion. That’s a real vested interest in Tennessee.

#1 HCA Inc. $800 Million #2 Gaylord Entertainment Co. $600 million #3 Wal-Mart Stores – $460 million #4 CBL & Assoc. Properties $430 million #5 Highwoods Properties $390 million #6 Simon Property Group $320 million #7 Boyle Investment Co. $310 million

Founded in 1933 by three sons of Edward Boyle, the firm is one of the largest property holders in Shelby County. In addition to 40 income producing properties, Boyle controls another 3,200 acres of land that will host the next generation of Boyle projects. Most prominent holdings include the Thomas and Betts and Morgan Keegan buildings, Schilling Farms, Ridgeway Center and its 450,000 square foot Gallina Centro retail project in Collierville near Germantown. Boyle also is developing along with the Berry family 578 acres near Franklin.

#8 Belz Enterprises $305 million #9 Bowater Inc. $282 million #10 Duke Realty $277 million #11 Eastman Chemical $210 million #12 Mills Corp $173 million #13 ALCOA $152 million #14 Kroger $118 million #15 Home Depot $117 million #16 H.G. Hill Realty $117 million #18 United Dominion Realty Trust $107 million #19 Prefco XIV L.P. – $106 million #20 Dover Motorsports – $100 million