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Clark Tower owners say they plan to fight foreclosure auction

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A landmark skyscraper along Poplar Avenue is in foreclosure and will be sold at a public auction.

According to a foreclosure notice, the owners of Clark Tower are in default on a $60 million loan. The building is scheduled to be sold to the highest bidder on March 22.

The 34-story building, one of the tallest in East Memphis, was built in 1973.

The owner, In-Rel Management, also owns the prominent I-Bank building next door.

In-Rel’s CEO Kirk Cypel said he expects to pay off the obligations under the loan in full. and noted how they filed a lawsuit against the lender last year, citing breach of loan terms and other misconduct.

He says they’ll fight the foreclosure vigorously and protect the interest of its tenants.

"For over a year and a half, Clark Tower has been working to refinance the current loan.  In fact, Clark Tower started the refinancing process in September of 2017 and since that time has received financing proposals from more than one prospective lender.  In Clark Tower’s opinion, it can pay off its obligations under the loan in full," Cypel said.

"Clark Tower intends to fight the foreclosure vigorously and protect the interests of its tenants and will cooperate in keeping the community informed."

City Council member Worth Morgan, who represents the district where Clark Tower is located, said he was surprised to see news of the foreclosure Wednesday morning.

“It’s iconic and it’s, I mean this might be the center of Memphis if you look at it geographically,” Morgan said.

“Something we’re going to need to watch is, what happens to the other buildings, or was this just a one-time deal here where the numbers didn’t work, or is this something that’s larger going on?”

Morgan said changes in ownership aren’t unusual and tenants are typically protected by their leases in place.

“It might actually end up being a positive for this area and the neighborhood, so we just don’t know yet. We have to wait and see what the outcome of this will be in the next month or so,” he said.

But Morgan said he’s more concerned with a different Memphis skyscraper: the Raymond James building.

Raymond James and Associates may move from their namesake downtown building on North Front Street to East Memphis.

Morgan says Raymond James is a completely different case, where the tenant is not seeing enough improvements to the building.

“I think that’s going to be the bigger disrupter to the marketplace and the downtown office space than simply a change of ownership here would be.”

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