Towering Progress

Construction of IP’s new East Memphis building reaches next stage

By Amos Maki

The shell of the newest addition to the East Memphis office skyline is complete, setting the stage for exterior work on International Paper’s new building to begin.

The shell of International Paper’s new building in East Memphis is complete. The $56.1 million, nine-story building is rising at 1760 International Drive, across from IP’s existing office campus.

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

“The structure has been built and now they’re starting from the ground up putting the skin on the building,” said Matthew Marzolf, director of development for Highwoods Properties Inc. in Memphis.

In 2013, IP reached a long-term build-to-suit lease with Highwoods for the development of the roughly $56.1 million building.

Holder Construction erected the nine-story shell at 1760 International Drive, across the street from IP’s existing office campus along the Poplar corridor, and the stone, glass and aluminum exterior is being applied. The building should be completed by the end of the second quarter next year.

The new building will include almost 3.1 million pounds of structural steel, the equivalent of 253 African elephants. The project includes around 10,966 cubic yards of ready-mix concrete material, which equals over 1,100 concrete trucks delivered to the site, and 189 miles of wiring.

While the new 241,000-square-foot building will look slightly different from IP’s current Highwoods’ campus, it will have many of the same touches. The first three floors of the exterior will feature a granite and glass exterior and the rest of the building will be mostly glass.

“The materials will be similar and you will be able to tell they’re related buildings,” Marzolf said. “This will have more glass. The palette is the same but the way it is painted is different.”

Highwoods is pursuing LEED, or the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, a private nonprofit that encourages more sustainable design.

The exterior of the new International Paper tower is nearly complete. The first three floors of the exterior will feature a granite and glass exterior, with the rest of the building being mostly glass. 

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

LEED certification involves a complex process for estimating a building’s environmental footprint, including everything from whether bike racks are installed and how many parking spaces are included, but Marzolf said designing the building in the most energy efficient and sustainable way makes sense for Highwoods and its tenants.

“It’s about building sustainable buildings and impacting the environment as little as possible while you’re doing it,” Marzolf said. “When you look at it from a long-term ownership standpoint, the things you do to make it sustainable make good business sense and our customers will experience less expense over the long term.”

The building will also feature abundant landscaping, although maybe not at the same level as the existing IP campus, which features over 30 varieties of trees and has long served as a sort of urban forest along the city’s most-coveted office corridor.

“It will not be landscaped to that extent but we will have landscaping so you will know it is part of the campus across the street,” Marzolf said.

The new office building is part of an agreement IP reached with Memphis and Shelby County early last year that allowed the company to maintain its corporate headquarters in the city and expand its presence here.

In February 2013, the city-county Economic Development Growth Engine approved IP for a 15-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) program.

The company’s tax freeze will help it pursue a nearly $116 million expansion of its Memphis presence, including keeping 2,274 jobs here, creating 101 new jobs, and building the new tower.