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VOL. 130 | NO. 136 | Wednesday, July 15, 2015

LRK Launches Expansion in Downtown Memphis

By Amos Maki

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Looney Ricks Kiss is embarking on an expansion of its Downtown Memphis headquarters.

The Memphis-based architecture, planning and design firm is expanding its office footprint by about 60 percent as part of a long-term lease extension at the Toyota Center building adjacent to AutoZone Park, 175 Toyota Plaza.

With business picking up, Memphis-based Looney Ricks Kiss is launching a major expansion of its Downtown office. LRK will expand to 35,000 square feet, up from the 22,000 square feet it currently occupies.

(Daily News File/Lance Murphey)

Its new office will measure 35,000 square feet, up from the 22,000 square feet it currently occupies.

The expansion will allow LRK to better serve clients and provide more space for new hires, according to company officials.

“It really has to do with being able to best serve our clients and attracting talent,” said Rebecca Courtney, a principal at LRK. “We’re very optimistic and we have been in hiring mode for a number of months and we still are looking for talented people.”

The company’s expansion comes just three years after it consolidated its space at Toyota Center. Like other architecture and planning firms, LRK was hit hard by the recession and its aftermath. LRK downsized to 22,000 square feet in 2012. Prior to that consolidation, LRK had occupied the entire fifth and sixth floors at the Downtown building since 2000.

But with the economy gaining momentum, LRK is doing more work locally and at its other offices, and the company needed to expand to keep pace with demand.

“The work has come back,” Courtney said. “It feels good to be this busy and to be working with the people we’re working with.”

In addition to its home base of Memphis, LRK also has offices in Princeton, N.J.; Celebration, Fla.; Baton Rouge, La.; and Little Rock, Ark. LRK also opened a new office in Dallas about six months ago.

LRK, currently located on the fifth floor at Toyota Center, is taking over about half of the sixth floor, where it will move its main reception area, conference rooms and some staff. Sullivan Branding previously occupied that space following LRK’s 2012 consolidation.

Memphis-based Sullivan Branding also is expanding and taking a large portion of Toyota Center’s first floor.

Reflecting their upbeat outlook for the business, Courtney and LRK principal Rob Norcross were ebullient when talking about the expansion.

“We’re just moving back to where we used to be,” said Courtney.

“All of our desks were full,” Norcross said.

LRK plans to pursue LEED certification on the renovations.

Norcross and Courtney said that while the firm looked at other offers for the expansion, its desire was to stay put at Toyota Center, a 1913 dry goods building that LRK helped redesign as part of the AutoZone Park development.

“We had developers offer us opportunities along the way, which we happily looked at, but I think we were focused on staying where we are,” Norcross said.

LRK’s lease extension and expansion is another positive sign for the Downtown office market.

Six of the top 15 deals in the Memphis office market in the first quarter were Downtown, a total of nearly 80,000 square feet, according to CB Richard Ellis Memphis. Four of the six deals were extensions or expansions of existing Downtown tenants, and the remaining two were new to the neighborhood.

Kelly Truitt, head of the Tenant Advisory Group at CBRE Memphis, represented LRK in the transaction. Gray Fiser of CBRE Memphis represented the landlord.

Santa Monica, Calif.-based Hertz Investment Group owns the Toyota Center building. Hertz purchased it, along with four other Memphis office buildings, from Jackson, Miss.-based Parkway Properties in 2012.

PROPERTY SALES 128 339 21,916
MORTGAGES 76 240 16,657
BANKRUPTCIES 36 136 6,853