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Office expert: Memphis in it for the long haul

It’s understandable why Ron Kastner with CB Richard Ellis Memphis classified the local office market’s 2011 performance as a “bad hair day” at Wednesday’s commercial property forecast summit.

Downtown was the only submarket that showed any vacancy drop, about 1 percentage point, thanks to Pinnacle’s 170,000-square-foot lease in One Commerce Square. That means every other area of the city either experienced flat or negative absorption.

Perhaps more telling is that in the last 10 years, this city has gone from 20 to 13 Memphis-based companies, including Thomas & Betts, which was recently acquired. Corporate headquarters are the major provider of the city’s white collar office jobs.

But after all of those harsh realities, Kastner had some parting words for the crowd that were even more lasting.

“My whole career, whether being Downtown or out East, people have always asked me, ‘When are they going to do something about the Sterick building?’ ‘When are they going to do something about Sears Crosstown?’ You name it.

I challenge everyone in this room to ask them, ‘Who is they?’ They’re they. You’re they. We’re all they. And I challenge us all to be thinking in light of what we can do. Whether you’re a lender, developer, agent, broker, we’re all they.

Memphis has a lot of opportunity. I love Memphis. I’m a native Memphian, and I know these stats don’t necessarily represent it, but it’s a cycle. And we’re in it for the long haul. So I ask everyone in here to remember that you’re they.”