VOL. 132 | NO. 111 | Monday, June 5, 2017
Two Local Families Looking to Develop ‘Jewel' of East Memphis
By Patrick Lantrip
Building a boutique corporate headquarters on a heavily wooded tract of land near Dixon Gallery and Gardens would stand in stark contrast to the more urban feel of a project on Poplar Avenue like TraVure, but that’s what makes this East Memphis location so special.
“It’s unlike anything else we have around here in the corporate world,” RBM Ventures chief operating officer Rawleigh Martin said of his family’s Oaksedge Office Campus. “It’s a 25-acre campus that basically feels like a park.”
Currently, Oaksedge is home to Wright Medical Group Inc.’s corporate headquarters and a few residential buildings, but a new potential joint venture between the Martins and another prominent local family would provide the last piece to the puzzle.
“It’s an opportunity to do something very unique,” Martin said. “You could add one more boutique corporate headquarters without doing anything negative to the site or the area around it. It’s a potential win-win for everybody.”
Which is why Martin and his friend and developer, Brown Gill, whose family owns Gill Properties, are laying the groundwork to develop an East Memphis office complex on the remaining 10 acres that would be unique to the market.
“We feel like we’re offering a Class A product for a company that doesn’t want to be in the hustle and bustle of Poplar,” Gill said. “The Martins have just been such wonderful stewards of the property. It is absolutely stunningly beautiful when you’re there.”
The Gills and Martins became acquaintances while going to the nearby Wellhouse Fitness, where Gill works out three days a week.
“That’s how I got to know the property, and I just fell in love with it,” Gill said. “It’s a jewel in the center of East Memphis.”
Oaksedge was originally part of a larger 200-acre estate by the same name that was purchased by local businessman General Everett R. Cook in 1939. Part of the land was eventually sold to Hugo Dixon, where he built his famous home-turned-art-museum, the Dixon Gallery and Gardens.
Martin’s family purchased the land in 1999 and it has been special to them ever since.
“We’ve enjoyed it as a personal family asset as well,” Martin said. “We have a vegetable garden over there, and we have a tennis court on the property.”
While it is still very early in the process, Gill said he envisions 60,000 to 100,000 square feet of office space spread out between either one or two two-story buildings that will fit seamlessly into the park-like feel of the campus.
“We want to retain as many mature trees as we can,” Gill said. “I think that the scale of a two-story, 30,000- to 50,000-square-foot building, perhaps two of those next to each other, would naturally fit into the current topography of the site and the shape of the site.”
Patty Bullock with Gill Properties will represent activity for the new buildings as a search for a tenant carries on.
“We believe that there are companies that are already on Poplar, but want to be on a campus where you have mature trees,” Gill said. “The CEOs of some of these companies that are wanting to move, but don’t want to be on Poplar Avenue, just come and stand on the site.”