The iBank Tower, located at 5050 Poplar Ave., has sold for $19.2 million, and for the first time, the same owner controls both the iBank Tower and the nearby Clark Tower at 5100 Poplar Ave.
Florida-based In-Rel Properties plans to unite the 18-acre office campus with increased connections to the greater East Memphis area.
The 360,496-square-foot building, which is on the north side of Poplar east of South Mendenhall Road, is anchored by Independent Bank, the second-largest community bank based in Memphis.
Other prominent tenants include the State of Tennessee and Methodist-Le Bonheur Healthcare.
On Dec. 30, In-Rel Properties, acting as White Station Building LLC, bought the 24-story office tower formerly known as White Station Tower from Rosemont White Station Operating LLC. The seller is an affiliate of Santa Fe-based Gemini-Rosemont Realty LLC, the product of a merger between Rosemont Realty LLC and Gemini Investments (Holdings) Limited.
In conjunction with the Dec. 30 warranty deed, In-Rel filed a five-year, $14.6 million mortgage with Branch Banking & Trust Co.
Johnny Lamberson and Terry Radford, both of CB Richard Ellis Memphis, represented the seller in the sale.
Rosemont Realty paid $14.4 million for the tower in October 2012. Last year, the company invested about $400,000 into renovations that included resurfacing, sealing and painting the exterior and completely refurbishing the 18th floor.
In-Rel will spend up to $1 million in improvements to the iBank Tower in addition to the nearly $7 million it has committed to Clark Tower improvements.
With the two buildings across eight acres under the same ownership, amenities and parking will be shared. In-Rel has plans to link the two towers with complementary branding and color scheming.
“When the iBank Tower opportunity presented itself, we saw exciting potential to double down in the Memphis office market and further invest in this part of East Memphis, which has shown demonstrated growth in the last five years,” said Dennis Udwin, founding principal of In-Rel Properties.
Occupancy at iBank is at 82 percent and Clark Tower is at 70 percent.
Tenants in both buildings will have access to Clark Tower’s top floor event space, The Tower Room, as well as the seventh floor fitness center and lower print shop, sundry store and restaurant. Over at the iBank Tower is a café and an iBank branch.
Tenants and employees will have access to the parking garage and surface parking lots, allowing for greater density within tenant spaces.
“We’re just continuing to see more and more dense office users,” said Phil Dagastino with Cushman & Wakefield/Commercial Advisors, the group responsible for leasing the two buildings. “So we’re going to be able to offer a little bit more parking as well.”
Some of the most obvious improvements will be to the surrounding area.
“Right now it’s inefficient,” Dagastino said. “Generally people drive when everything’s this close because there’s not a clear path to any restaurant.”
He called the purchase a “game changer” because the towers are no longer competing with each other. With a single owner, parking and streetscapes can be used more efficiently. For the past few months, new owners In-Rel, local stakeholders as well as the urban revival experts behind MEMFix have been deliberating about how to make the East Memphis corner better for walk, work and play.
In a preliminary walkability plan conducted by Fleming Architects and Blair Parker Design, sidewalks will link the prominent office towers with dozens of restaurants in the area as well as Whole Foods, the Malco Paradiso, Brookhaven Circle, the Clark Center and the Sanderlin Center.
Work is already underway with Michael Lightman, owner of the Sanderlin Center, completing a path linking his retail strip with the Double Tree Hotel two weeks ago.
Dagastino said the overall plan is tricky with so many property owners paying for their own improvements, but a unified campus is in everyone’s best interest.
“It helps to have one landlord, one decision marker with this many moving pieces,” he said.