VOL. 128 | NO. 114 | Wednesday, June 12, 2013
By Amos Maki
Ever since he was a child, Brad Martin, chairman of private investment firm RBM Venture Co. and retired chairman and CEO of Saks Inc., was attracted to the large wooded property at 1023 Cherry Road near Park Avenue in East Memphis.
Rawleigh Martin and his father, Brad Martin (not pictured), of RBM Cherry Road Partners recently repurchased Oaksedge, a 125,000-square-foot office campus at 1023 Cherry Road.
(Daily News/Lance Murphey)
“It was the boyhood home of my friend Ned Cook, an extraordinary entrepreneur and civic leader in Memphis,” said Martin, who also recently was tapped as interim University of Memphis president. “Each of the subsequent owners, the Butlers, Promus and Harrah’s, nurtured this special place and used it wisely. We have maintained that standard for the last 14 years, and our family is committed to continuing to do so.”
The Martins – through the entity RBM Cherry Road Partners – bought the 25-acre property, called Oaksedge, in 1999 from Harrah’s. After later selling it, RBM Cherry Road in January reacquired the office buildings and six acres for $4 million.
It returns stability to a property that had hit financial straits in the past 10 years.
TIC Cherry Road Investors LLC – a division of Greenville, S.C.-based TIC Properties – bought the two office properties and six acres for $18.46 million from RBM Cherry Road in 2003. Following TIC Properties’ acquisition, the company sold 25 tenant-in-common shares of varying ownership percentages and prices to a host of entities.
But then trouble surfaced.
Harrah’s Entertainment vacated the Cherry Road buildings and a Ridge Lake Boulevard call center in 2006 when it bought a 285,000-square-foot building in Goodlett Farms.
RBM Cherry Road Partners recently repurchased Oaksedge, a 125,000-square-foot office campus behind Dixon Gallery and Gardens. The company is seeking to lease the property.
(Daily News/Lance Murphey)
And in 2009 the property’s ownership group defaulted on a $14 million loan through KeyBank NA dated March 12, 2004.
A single-purpose entity called MLMT 2004-MKB1 1023 Cherry Road LLC, which was related to the lender KeyBank, bought the embattled office property for $6.4 million during a substitute trustee’s sale Oct. 26, 2009, on the steps of the Shelby County Courthouse.
The lender owned the property until RBM Cherry Road Partners bought it in January for a fraction of what it had sold for just a decade earlier.
“Our group is very excited to have been able to purchase the office buildings this year,” said Rawleigh Martin, vice president of RBM Venture and Brad Martin’s son. “They are currently for lease and are being shown to single users as well as multi-tenant prospects.”
The compound includes two office buildings that sit on six acres and total nearly 131,000 square feet.
One is a three-story building designed by architect Francis Mah. It is being marketed to 40,000- to 60,000-square-foot single tenants. The second building, designed by Hnedak Bobo Group, is being marketed to 5,000- to 55,000-square-foot multi-tenant companies.
The Martin family has always owned 19 acres and the residence on the property, using it for their family offices.
Harrah’s previously had a lease on both buildings but that has expired, making both buildings 100 percent available.
Rawleigh Martin said returning the property to RBM Cherry Road will pay dividends.
“Returning the entire 25-acre campus to a single ownership group gives us the flexibility we need to work with any future tenants’ unique needs at the Oaksedge Office Campus,” he said.
Ron Kastner, senior vice president of brokerage service at CB Richard Ellis Memphis LLC, which is the broker for the property, said the wooded campus makes the East Memphis office campus a special place.
“The natural setting of this 26-acre campus is like no other I have ever seen in Memphis or anywhere else,” Kastner said. “The buildings were intentionally designed to reflect the immediate surroundings of this beautiful property and blend in with its natural setting.”