Rural/Metro Corp.’s local Emergency Medical Services division is moving its office and maintenance operations from Summer Avenue to Schilling Farms in Collierville.
The company, which provides Shelby County’s 911 emergency medical transportation services, signed a 20,000-square-foot lease at 100 Crescent and should be fully moved in to the building by mid-January.
Glenn Miller, division general manager at Rural/Metro (NASDAQ: RURL), chose the building because of its location.
“It’s very close to 385 and you have access to the hospitals,” he says. “Also, the business park is quiet and clean.”
Rural/Metro’s EMS division has 250 full- and part-time employees in Shelby County. This building will house 30-50 at any one time.
The company owns 48 ambulances in its Shelby County operation. These are stationed in county firehouses and every municipality except for Memphis and Bartlett.
The Schilling Farms building consists of 10,000 square feet of office space and 10,000 square feet of industrial space.
The industrial side, which is climate controlled, will be an ambulance shop. It will also be used as housing for ambulances that are not on the street making calls.
“It’ll help because right now our ambulances are parked outside,” Miller says. “We have to keep them plugged in all winter so they’re ready to go at a minute’s notice. Here, they’ll be parked inside of a climate controlled environment and ready to go. I think we’ll be able to keep them cleaner and neater as well.”
The company was operating at a building in Memphis which didn’t have a climate controlled space for its ambulances.
“They were looking for a nicer building and that’s what drew them to this location,” says John Lichterman, an agent at McKee & McFarland, Inc., who represented Rural/Metro in the transaction.
Colliers Wilkinson Snowden vice president Andy Cates and industrial specialist Preston Thomas represented Orion Packaging Systems, Inc., in negotiations.
Orion Packaging had just signed a 10-year renewal at the property, but then decided to shut its operations down.
When Rural/Metro started looking for a building, this property fits its needs.
“It was a sublease so they were able to take advantage of a good rate in a really nice building,” Thomas says.
The average asking rent for flex space was $7.72 per square foot in Memphis, according to Collier Wilkinson Snowden’s mid-year report. There isn’t much industrial space in Collierville or Schilling Farms, so to find a building of this type was a great find for Rural/Metro, according to Thomas.
The company had to get approvals from the city of Collierville, developer Boyle Investment Co. and the building’s owner, Loeb Properties, Inc.
“A normal deal you just sign a lease, but this one, we had to get so many different approvals because of where the property was and because it was a sublease,” Thomas says. “Rural Metro has a good relationship with the city of Collierville, so that helped.”
While much of commercial real estate activity is slow, Thomas says Memphis’ industrial real estate has some good prospects for 2010, including several new-to-market leases and renewals.
“The companies which are willing to extend their leases or move forward with a new property, they’re able to get some great deals,” Thomas says. “There are a lot of concessions from owners to bring tenants into their buildings.”