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VOL. 126 | NO. 45 | Monday, March 7, 2011

Independent Bank Eyes Space in One Commerce

By Andy Meek

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A bank logo may soon be returning to One Commerce Square.

Multiple sources confirmed Independent Bank is in the final stages of negotiating a deal to put a bank branch – and possibly additional office space – in the landmark Downtown tower, where for years the top of the building was adorned with the logo for National Bank of Commerce and later SunTrust Banks Inc.

Independent Bank officials were not available for comment. Gary Prosterman, a partner in the group that’s redeveloping One Commerce Square, said he was not in a position to talk about a potential Independent deal.

The parent company of NBC, which once was headquartered in the building, was bought by SunTrust in 2004. SunTrust became the anchor tenant at One Commerce, and the tower then carried SunTrust’s logo for a time.

The building took a major blow – and events leading to its current state began to be set in motion – when SunTrust a few years ago vacated 155,000 square feet in the building to move to 999 S. Shady Grove Road in East Memphis.

If the talks with Independent are successful, it would represent another notch for a fast-growing bank, which late last year also launched a financial planning division.

In terms of asset size, Independent is second in the local market only to First Horizon National Corp., the parent of First Tennessee Bank. At the end of 2010, Independent had a little less than $800 million in assets, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Independent moving into One Commerce would also mark the newest in a string of tenants that its owner, Memphis Commerce Square Partners, is lining up to reinvigorate the building, which faced foreclosure in 2009.

“There have been some very positive discussions with several very significant firms,” Paul Morris, president of the Center City Commission, said about the effort to redevelop One Commerce. “I’ve been on call by the people that have control over that space to help them in any way the Center City Commission can.”

The most prominent example has already come to fruition. Pinnacle Airlines Corp. is bringing its corporate headquarters that’s near Memphis International Airport to a 170,000-square-foot space in the Downtown tower later this year.

Also within the last few days, Swedish appliance maker Electrolux signed a 14,000-square-foot lease, where it will occupy the building’s entire 24th floor.

The office will be the new home for up to 150 Electrolux employees and will serve as a startup command center from which Electrolux will oversee development of the 700,000-square-foot manufacturing plant it’s building in Frank C. Pidgeon Industrial Park.

“We picked (One Commerce Square) because of the soaring river views, adjoining parking, the vibrancy of Downtown near our new project, and a nimble and accommodating leasing and ownership team that made this deal an easy one,” Jacob Burroughs, Electrolux project director and controller, said in a statement.

The Electrolux deal brings the 411,892-square-foot, Class A building’s occupancy rate above 85 percent.

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