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VOL. 129 | NO. 90 | Thursday, May 08, 2014

Tower Facelift

I-bank Tower in midst of makeover

By Amos Maki

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One of Memphis’ most recognizable office buildings, occupying a prime piece of commercial real estate on Poplar Avenue in East Memphis, is getting a makeover.

A crew from Mid-South Specialties Inc. begins work resurfacing the concrete facade of i-bank Tower. The East Memphis tower is getting a $400,000 facelift.

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

Rosemont Realty LLC is investing around $400,000 to update the 24-story i-bank Tower at 5050 Poplar Ave. The 275,634-square-foot building, built in 1967 by pioneering developer William B. Clark Sr. and formerly known as White Station Tower, includes the signature round top floor, which once housed a rotating restaurant.

The renovation plan includes resurfacing the skyscraper, essentially restoring and sealing the exterior of the building, before giving it a fresh coat of paint. Rosemont will also completely refurbish the 18th floor of the building, a move the real estate firm hopes will attract a single tenant to the 13,500-square-foot space.

“The remodeling of the 18th floor prepares it for a new, full-floor tenant, which we are actively looking for now,” said Helen Rivero, regional principal for Rosemont Realty. “The resurfacing and painting of the exterior will make i-bank Tower more appealing, not just to our tenants, but for everyone who lives and works in the Memphis area.”

A crew from Memphis-based Mid-South Specialties Inc. began refurbishing the building’s exterior Thursday, May 1. The entire project is expected to take five months to complete.

The building, which sits on 9.4 acres on the north side of Poplar next to Clark Tower, is currently 84 percent occupied. Tenants include Independent Bank, Mid-South Pulmonary Specialists, BNY Mellon, Methodist Healthcare, the Cotton Board and John Hancock Life Insurance, among others.

I-bank Tower and the adjacent Clark Tower occupy a special place in local commercial real estate history. The two buildings helped spark the eastward shift of office real estate in Memphis away from Downtown and toward the Poplar corridor.

“It is easily one of the most recognizable buildings in the city,” said Laura Taylor of Colliers International Memphis, which manages and leases the property. “When Mr. Clark developed the then-White Station Tower in 1967, the East Memphis skyline was forever changed. The building began as a lynchpin to the East Memphis office market and has grown to be a landmark location in the heart of the city.”

Ronney Harris, left, and Scott George of Mid-South Specialties Inc. survey the concrete facade of i-bank Tower, which will be completely resurfaced in the coming weeks.

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

Today, the Poplar corridor in East Memphis is the most sought-after office submarket in the Memphis area. Strong leasing activity in the submarket last year has caused availability to tighten, resulting in a total vacancy rate of 3.6 percent for Class A space in the submarket in the first quarter.

The lack of available Class A space in East Memphis presents strong leasing opportunities for Class B properties like i-bank Tower, which was renovated in 2006.

“With Class A occupancy in the East Memphis submarket at approximately 96 percent, i-bank Tower is poised to benefit with tenants in the marketplace,” Taylor said. “I-bank Tower has a Class A location and offers Class B rates. The capital the owners have invested and will continue to invest show their level of commitment to the building.”

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RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 72 368 16,413
MORTGAGES 66 422 21,432
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 15 76 4,266
BUILDING PERMITS 176 877 39,378
BANKRUPTCIES 60 294 15,542
BUSINESS LICENSES 20 98 5,491
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 69 423 23,573
MARRIAGE LICENSES 17 95 5,035

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