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A Look Back, as Pinnacle’s Pilot Disembarks

With the departure of Pinnacle Airlines Corp. CEO Phil Trenary that was announced today, I think it’s interesting to recall one of the most prominent developments for the company – and its home city – that occurred in recent months, and which is still unfolding.

It’s the move of its corporate headquarters from the area around Memphis International Airport to Downtown Memphis, where Pinnacle decided to take a chance on a building that’s making a comeback (One Commerce Square) and politely declined what were described as generous overtures from other areas, like north Mississippi, which badly wanted the company to look beyond Memphis.

In the spring of 2010, Memphis businessman Karl Schledwitz ran into Trenary Downtown. Trenary, at that point, had already long had his eye on One Commerce.

But when the building faced foreclosure and the bank took ownership, Trenary told Schledwitz it was starting to look like a deal wasn’t going to be possible.

Crestfallen, Schledwitz asked for just one thing: time. Specifically, how long could Pinnacle hold out before Downtown was definitely off the table?

Schledwitz wanted to try and line up a group of local investors to buy the building and negotiate with Pinnacle.

“I can give you until the next board meeting,” Trenary said at that time.

It turned out to be enough. A group of investors was assembled to buy One Commerce from US Bancorp. The investors, in turn, negotiated a deal with Pinnacle.

The deal included a trio of 13s: On Dec. 13, Pinnacle signed a lease for a 13-year term for up to 13 floors.

Forget the omen of bad luck associated with that unlucky number, though. Luck clearly had nothing to do with the outcome, given the commitment and personal involvement of civic and business leaders to make the deal happen.

And an abiding interest from Pinnacle’s leadership, including its outgoing CEO, to keep the company’s roots in Memphis.

Dansette

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