Cozymel's Property Comes Down

By Amos Maki

The first financial ripples from International Paper Co.’s decision to build a fourth tower at its East Memphis campus are seeping out.

Not much remains of the former Cozymel’s restaurant that was razed this week. The 2.2-acre site sits in the shadows of the expanding International Paper Corp.’s headquarters.

(Daily News Photo)

This week crews razed the old Cozymels restaurant, which sat on a 2.2-acre site on Poplar Avenue, just east of the Fortune 500 company’s headquarters at Poplar and International Drive.

“It’s being redeveloped but I really can’t say anything else right now,” said Danny Buring, managing partner of The Shopping Center Group’s Memphis office.

The site is owned by Crown Centre LLP.

“We always like to see development,” said Steve Guinn, who leads the Memphis Highwoods office and is overseeing the development of the new International Paper tower. “It’s adding to the tax base and that’s what we need. A building would definitely be preferable to an abandoned building or a vacant lot.”

Being along the highly valued Poplar corridor, the site could be attractive to a number of commercial users.

“Anything on Poplar right now is hot,” said Ron Kastner, senior vice president of CB Richard Ellis Memphis. ”Surely something fronting Poplar would be attractive to a bank.”

In March, Highwoods Realty LP, a subsidiary of Highwoods Property Inc., bought two parcels of East Memphis land totaling about 5.1 acres that will be used for International Paper’s headquarters expansion. Raleigh, N.C.-based Highwoods paid $4.8 million for part of two parcels from Robert F. Fogelman, trustee of the Robert F. Fogelman Revocable Trust Dated September 14, 1989.

Also in March, Highwoods signed a deal in which the real estate investment trust will deliver a $56.1 million build-to-suit tower for Memphis-based International Paper next to its campus. Highwoods will develop a 241,000-square-foot, nine-story Class A office building with structured parking. That new building will sit directly across the street from International Paper’s world headquarters and main campus, and construction is expected to start Sept. 1, with completion by the end of the second quarter of 2015.

Earlier this year, the Memphis and Shelby County Economic Development Growth Engine granted the company a $56.9 million payment-in-lieu-of-taxes deal to persuade International Paper to stay in Memphis and expand. The company will retain 2,274 high-paying jobs in Memphis, add 101 new employees and build the fourth office tower.