VOL. 132 | NO. 209 | Friday, October 20, 2017
Gibson Guitar Factory Looking For New Home
By Patrick Lantrip
Nashville-based guitar maker Gibson Brands Inc. is putting its Downtown Memphis factory on the market as it looks for a new, smaller home.
The 18-year-old Gibson Beale Street Showcase and Guitar Factory – located on nearly six acres at 145 Lt. George W. Lee Ave., across South B.B. King Boulevard from FedExForum – clocks in at 127,620 square feet and has an adjacent 330-space parking lot. And it could be yours for $17 million.
“It’s very difficult to accumulate this much land in a downtown market,” said CBRE executive vice president Johnny Lamberson, who is handling the sale along with CBRE vice president Terry Radford. “In fact, I really haven’t seen a sale this large probably since (FedExForum) was put together.”
Lamberson said that while the Gibson factory won’t be leaving Memphis anytime soon, the owners feel the current location is too big for what they need.
“They are definitely going to stay in Memphis, but when this venue was built it had a large entertainment venue (that) hasn’t been utilized in a couple of years,” he said. “And that’s approximately half of the building.”
Gibson Beale Street Showcase and Guitar Factory
Once Gibson figures out the square footage needed for its new location, it will again tap CBRE to handle that search. In the meantime they are looking to sell the current facility and sign an option to stay in it for another 18 to 24 months.
Lamberson said he would like to see the building adapted for reuse but could not rule out the possibility of new ground-up structure replacing the factory/entertainment venue.
“One of the fun things about being a broker sometimes is the unknown,” he said. “I can’t sit here right now and tell you what it’s going to ultimately be, but this is certainly an exciting location and we’re looking forward to seeing the next chapter.”
A call to Gibson was not immediately returned.
The Memphis plant is one of Gibson's three production facilities, and the only one open for tours. It produces semi-hollow electric guitars, including the Gibson ES line, and custom instruments. Gibson's solid-body electric guitars are made in Nashville, while its acoustic guitars are produce in Bozeman, Montana.
Gibson’s Memphis and Nashville locations became a national flashpoint in 2011 when federal agents raided the factories and offices in both cities, seizing several pallets of wood, electronic files and guitars. The government alleged some of the wood Gibson imported to manufacture guitars violated the Lacey Act, a law that bans the import of environmentally threatened plants and animals.
Gibson’s corporate response turned the episode into an attack on the size of the federal government, with company postings on Twitter including the hashtag #thiswillnotstand. Days after the raid, U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee invited Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz to be her guest at a joint session of Congress as then-President Barack Obama unveiled a jobs proposal.