August 10, 2015

Ridgeway Center Turns 40

In the early 1970s, Boyle took on its largest and most ambitious project to date – converting the former grounds of Ridgeway Country Club into a multi-use development.  The result is Ridgeway Center, a 204-acre “city on the edge of a city,” which turns 40 years old this year. 

With the development of Ridgeway Center in 1971, Boyle introduced Memphis to the office park concept, and today the center is home to many of Memphis’ finest corporations and locally owned businesses.  Some of the center’s earliest office tenants were IBM, Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance, Conwood, New England Life and Rhea & Ivy.  Current tenants include Marsh USA, Morgan Keegan, SunTrust Bank, ServiceMaster, Sedgwick Claims Management Services, Inc. and Federal Express Corporation.  Today, Ridgeway Center offers more than 1 million square feet of office space and a majority of the center’s tenants have been with Boyle for more than 15 years.
In a 1994 interview in Agenda magazine, Boyle’s President Henry Morgan explained how Ridgeway Center came about.  “The whole idea behind our developing  Ridgeway Center office park property at Poplar and I-240 was that Memphis was going to follow in the path of cities like Atlanta, where suburban office growth was developing near the decision makers.  We’ve been involved in getting a number of Memphis decision makers to move into homes in the Kirby Woods and River Oaks developments.  So, it was sort of a natural evolution, I guess you’d say.”  
Said J. Bayard Boyle, Jr., Chairman of Boyle, during the same interview, “In the late 1960s, when we first got the idea of doing this original office park, we went down to Atlanta several times and looked at all the office parks being developed at expressway interchanges in north central Atlanta.  Memphis didn’t have office parks, and the city was really unfamiliar with the concept.  The theory was to decrease the amount of driving time for the majority of business people.  So, it made sense to build a high-quality development close to where they lived.  We tried really hard to build it in an environmentally sensitive way so that it would be an asset to the neighborhood.  We saved a whole lot of open space and trees.”
Rusty Bloodworth and Mark Halperin, both of whom are still with Boyle today, worked with Morgan on the design and development of Ridgeway Center.   The project was designed to incorporate a wide range of uses, including office, hotel, restaurant, church, and residential, all within a park like environment with lush landscaping and trees.
“Once inside Ridgeway Center, you’d never know you’re in the heart of the Poplar corridor in the center of the Memphis business district,” says Bloodworth, who has been integrally involved in the design of all of Boyle’s high-profile, mixed-use projects.  “Ridgeway Center was our first mixed-use project, and we’ve used it as a laboratory to develop even larger, more complex multi-use projects, such as Schilling Farms in Collierville and Meridian Cool Springs in Franklin, both of which integrate even more land uses.”
Ridgeway Center is home to major corporations and locally owned businesses.
Kathy Pampuro, Senior Vice President, has worked with Halperin since 1986 and  handles tenants’ leasing needs.  She attributes tenant longevity at Ridgeway Center to the personalized service and attention to detail that Boyle’s office team provides.  “At Boyle, we put the tenant first and always attempt to exceed their expectations.  Our careful attention to the smallest detail is visible throughout the center.  Should an emergency arise, our tenants understand we are available 24/7.”
Ridgeway Center is a prime example of Boyle’s strategic planning and research, which helps the company predict demographic trends and future growth corridors.  Forty years after its inception, Ridgeway Center is still going strong in what is now the center of the city and has a tenant roster of which the company is proud.  Happy birthday, Ridgeway Center!
Boyle’s office team, led by Halperin, leases and manages 15 Boyle’s office buildings in Ridgeway Center, which has its own on-site property management and maintenance team.  “I’m proud to say that we have a whole host of long-term tenants who have been with us for years,” says Halperin, Executive Vice President of Boyle.  “We have a highly experienced office team and, as a result, we have low tenant turnover rates.  So many of our tenants are growing, and they like the service they receive and the quality of the buildings in which they’re located.  We work with our tenants to allow them to expand and stay with us.”