MEMPHIS, Tenn. — EDGE board members on Wednesday approved $3.2 million in tax incentives for financial services company Raymond James to move out of its office tower in downtown Memphis and create jobs in East Memphis.
The company now occupies a 21-story building on Front Street, but has complained in a lawsuit about the condition of that facility. It would move to two leased locations on Ridgeway Loop and Ridge Lake Boulevard.
A spokesperson for the owner of the building, 50 North Front Street LLC, said the claim that the building is deteriorating is false, and they think Raymond James has had plans to break their lease for a while.
“The cause of Raymond James’ abandonment of downtown Memphis has nothing to do with alleged building deterioration and everything to do with the fact they plan to occupy space they already own in East Memphis,” the spokesperson said.
50 North Front Street LLC said they bought the building in 2015 and have spent millions of dollars for renovations.
“We know Raymond James is not abandoning downtown Memphis because of this building,” said Jacob Sofer, the owner of 50 North Front Street LLC. “The building condition has only been on an upward trajectory since we took it over in 2015 and is in far better condition now than when Raymond James signed their current 10-year lease with the previous owner.”
Representatives for Raymond James did not comment at Wednesday’s EDGE meeting.
The Florida-based company said in its EDGE application that it has 863 employees in the Memphis area, and would add 100 net new jobs at its new facility.
Jennifer Oswalt, president of the Downtown Memphis Commission, said the impact to downtown would be significant, and she knew the move wasn’t an easy decision for Raymond James.
“As for the building, it is in a prime location with great views of the river and our beautiful Downtown skyline — we believe it has a strong future,” Oswalt said in a statement. “With some investment, it has the potential to be Class A office or to be adapted for another use, such as condos. Please know, we will actively work to ensure the space is fully utilized to its highest potential.”
The Front Street building was originally home to Morgan Keegan. Raymond James acquired that firm in 2012.