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VOL. 129 | NO. 124 | Thursday, June 26, 2014

Raymond James Recommits to Downtown

By Andy Meek

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Raymond James is extending its commitment to Downtown Memphis, where the investment firm will remain a key part of the city’s skyline for at least another decade.

(Daily News File/Lance Murphey)

The firm has reached a deal with Parkway Properties to extend its lease on the Raymond James Tower at 50 N. Front St. until March of 2024.

Raymond James will be implementing a redistribution and capital expenditure plan over the next 12 months to optimize the space, where current operations include public finance, fixed income sales and trading, equity capital markets, private client group and operations and administration support. And about the deal, Raymond James CEO Paul Reilly said it will allow the firm to redistribute its workforce in the 21-story building with an eye toward both efficiency and providing enough space for more growth.

“Memphis,” Reilly added, “represents our largest concentration of associates outside of the firm’s headquarters in St. Petersburg (Fla.) and is an important component of our long-term plans.”

Raymond James has about 600 associates in the tower – down from about 900 employees – who will occupy 12 floors of the building and more than 185,000 square feet of office space.

The firm bought the tower in April 2012, and as the expiration of its lease approached, Raymond James conducted extensive due diligence around the city before making the decision to stay put.

Options that had been looked at included partnering on other existing real estate options as well as new developments. After completing that due diligence, Raymond James president John Carson – who led the search – said the firm decided it is already in the best location “to meet our objectives and continue to support Memphis’ development.”

“Our public finance business has been a partner in municipal and government growth for decades, and we’re pleased to be able to build on those successes as a partner in the Downtown core,” Carson said. “We appreciate the support provided by Mayor A C Wharton and his staff throughout this process. Their leadership and vision have been instrumental in cultivating a vibrant Downtown community which we’re proud to be a part of.”

Indeed, Raymond James’ lease extension is a win for Downtown, which has been stung by the emergence of East Memphis as the city’s primary office market as well as by the departure of major corporate tenants such as Pinnacle Airlines, which left One Commerce Square as part of a relocation to the Minneapolis area.

Construction of the tower was completed in 1983 and immediately occupied by Morgan Keegan, which Raymond James bought in April 2012.

Speculation about what Raymond James would decide about its Downtown presence at least somewhat mirrored the speculation in the immediate aftermath of the firm’s purchase of Morgan Keegan & Co. Inc. in 2012.

It had been something of a roller coaster ride for months, during which employees worried about jobs, and business and civic leaders worried about whether the city was poised to lose a major corporate headquarters if a competitor bought Morgan Keegan and either decimated it with job cuts or completely moved it out of town.

Ultimately, the lease extension news answers a hope that Downtown Memphis Commission president Paul Morris had upon word of Raymond James’ purchase of Morgan Keegan two years ago. Via a tweet, Morris welcomed the firm to Memphis and extended to the firm his hope that “you’ll get comfortable and stay a while.”

PROPERTY SALES 103 137 4,008
MORTGAGES 84 131 4,521
BUILDING PERMITS 178 368 9,636
BANKRUPTCIES 50 110 2,995