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Wanted: Office Space Filled Downtown

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(Memphis) Downtown Memphis has got a lot of things going for it nowadays.

“Live, work and play,” said Paul Morris, the executive director of the Downtown Memphis Commission. “People want to live downtown more than ever before. Occupancy rates are 95 percent plus. People want to play downtown. There are more restaurants. There's the Grizzlies, the Red Birds. Everything is going gangbusters.”

But it seems more people want to live and play downtown than work.

“The office market is really suffering," Morris said.

The Downtown Memphis Commission says about 1 out of 5 office spaces downtown are empty, which is why it’s willing to pay people up to $5,000 to get tenants and brokers to invest.

“A lot of offices have moved out East in the last 30 years,” said Morris. “We are trying to help reverse that.”

Morris said he hopes this tenant/broker incentive program helps the cause.

It offers brokers up to $5,000 if they can entice a tenant to sign a three-year lease in downtown Memphis.

“People who have always worked the suburbs don't even know about the advantages of working downtown," Morris said.

“Coming down here and walking out here at lunch. You can't do that anywhere else,” said Louise Horton, who works at the City County Building. “I really enjoy that.”

The Downtown Memphis Commission believes the vibrancy and convenience of downtown working is also what young professionals really want.

“A lot of young people prefer to work in a walkable, urban environment,” said Morris.

It's a working environment where they can also live and play.

You see things that are interesting and it’s not the typical boring day you get working in a suburban office," Morris said.