Raymond James Looks to Sublease Space

By Amos Maki

Raymond James Financial Inc. is marketing space it has vacated at its 21-story Downtown office tower for subleasing opportunities as the company continues to evaluate its real estate needs.

Raymond James Financial Inc. is marketing space it has vacated at its 21-story office tower at 50 N. Front St. 

(Daily News File/Lance Murphey)

Raymond James has engaged corporate real estate and management firm DTZ to sublease up to 46,889 square feet of space the company has vacated or will vacate at the Downtown office tower. The space is located on floors six, 14, 19 and 21 of the 50 N. Front St. skyscraper.

DTZ describes the office tower as “a landmark of the Downtown Memphis skyline” located near the courts, Civic Center Plaza, Court Square and the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, according to marketing materials distributed to local real estate professionals.

Raymond James, which acquired Morgan Keegan & Co. in 2012, has been shedding workers at the Downtown office building and could decide to relocate in advance of its Downtown lease expiring in March 2016. Raymond James leases a total of roughly 242,000 square feet at the skyscraper.

Raymond James’ Downtown workforce has steadily dwindled from around 900 employees when the Florida-based financial services firm acquired Morgan Keegan from Regions Financial Corp. to roughly 600 now. Some employees have been laid off while others have been moved to an East Memphis office building or to Raymond James’ home base of Florida.

Multiple real estate sources said Raymond James representatives have been in discussions with local real estate professionals about the company’s future real estate needs, including preliminary talks with developers about a potential build-to-suit office building in East Memphis.

Raymond James declined to answer a series of questions about its current and future plans.

“We have no comment at this time,” said Steve Hollister, senior manager of public communications for Raymond James.

The loss of Raymond James would be a devastating blow to the Downtown office market, which was stung last year when Pinnacle Airlines vacated the One Commerce Square office building for a move to the Minneapolis area.

Downtown Memphis Commission president Paul Morris declined to detail talks he’s had with Raymond James officials but said losing the company would undoubtedly hurt.

“I can’t disclose my discussions with Raymond James, but I can confirm I’m in discussions with them,” Morris said. “I can also say it would be horribly bad if they moved out of Downtown. Raymond James and its employees are a very important component to the future progress of Downtown.”

Morris also said it would be wrong for Memphis and Shelby County to provide any incentives that could facilitate a Raymond James move away from Downtown.

“I can say it would be a terrible, foolish mistake for our community to offer any public incentives to lure Raymond James to abandon Downtown, our core,” said Morris. “Retaining Raymond James Downtown is one of the DMC’s top priorities.”

“As a community, we need to do more to support the office market Downtown,” Morris said. “Our city cannot thrive without an active, vibrant Downtown, and a healthy office market is critical to Downtown’s vibrancy.”

Morgan Keegan had a long and storied and history in Memphis, employing thousands in white-collar jobs and showing commitment to Downtown through the development of the Front Street office tower. Birmingham-based Regions acquired the Memphis-based company in 2001 before selling it to Raymond James for $1.2 billion in 2012.