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VOL. 128 | NO. 128 | Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Deadline Arrives for State’s Office Space Needs

By Amos Maki

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The future of the state’s role as a major employer and user of office space Downtown could become much clearer next month.

The state of Tennessee is vacating the Donnelly J. Hill State Office Building at Civic Center Plaza and is seeking new Downtown space.

(Daily News File/Lance Murphey)

Proposals are due Tuesday, July 2, for 100,000 square feet of office space that will become vacant when the state abandons the Donnelly J. Hill State Office Building Downtown.

A recent request for proposals from the agency that handles state real estate puts the state’s focus entirely on Downtown.

The state, following a consultant’s recommendation, said it would vacate the Hill Building in Civic Center Plaza. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said the roughly 900 workers there would be relocated elsewhere Downtown.

“I am still excited the governor is committed to retaining all those employees in Downtown Memphis and there are plenty of opportunities to find office space here,” said Downtown Memphis Commission president Paul Morris.

The last RFQ from the state made it clear to wanted to remain Downtown. And the last RFQ from the Department of General Services said the area for the site would be bounded on the west by the Mississippi River, Interstate 40 on the north, I-55 to the south and I-240 on the east.

The location must also be within “a comfortable walk,” which it described as 10 minutes, of a bus stop. A previous state RFQ sought proposals for Downtown, Midtown and the airport area.

Last year, the state agency that handles real estate said the Hill Building, which opened in 1968, was functionally obsolete and it would be cheaper to sell the 12-story structure than spend $9 million to improve it. The state’s decision was based on a recommendation by Jones Lang LaSalle, a Chicago-based real estate firm with an office in Memphis. JLL also examined other buildings across the state.

The state has made concessions to make it easier for Downtown property owners to satisfy the state’s needs.

“There are plenty of opportunities to find office space here (in Downtown Memphis).

–Paul Morris
Downtown Memphis Commission

The General Services’ RFQ says the state requirement for 100,000 square feet of contiguous space could be met if the space is divided into blocks where 35,000 square feet and 65,000 square feet are contiguous. The state also said that hurdle could be met if proposers submitted proposals for only 35,000 square feet or only 65,000 square feet.

The machinations with the state come as Pinnacle Airlines moves forward with plans to vacate 170,000 square feet of space at One Commerce Square. The owners of One Commerce Square submitted a bid, but no one affiliated with the group agreed to comment.

The state is operating on a fairly tight deadline. The state is expected to complete proposal evaluations by July 9. Completion of cost proposal studies should be done July 24. On Aug. 14 the state is expected to complete negotiations and negotiated cost proposal evaluations.

As the state prepares to leave the building on Civic Center Plaza Downtown, Memphis Chief Administrative Officer George Little said the city was in the early stages of exploring whether the building was suitable for relocating city services spread across the city into the building.

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