July 12, 2016

Thomas & Betts’ Build-to-Suit Headquarters Scheduled for 1997 Completion


While speculative building for new office space was the trend in 1980s, the 1990s have seen a trend toward large "build-to suits." Say Mark Halperin, senior vice president of office properties for Boyle Investment Company.

One example of a major build-to-suit office project currently underway is the Thomas & Betts (T&B) Headquarters building at Southwind. Governor Don Sundquist, Mayor W. W. Herenton and Mayor Rout were on hand to break ground on the project in May 1996. Phase one, which involves the construction of a 227,000-square-foot office building, is on schedule and should be complete in the fourth quarter of 1997.

Among the building’s special features are a full-service employee food area, a high-tech video conference and meeting facility, and a sophisticated computer network system. While the building was designed to meet T&B’s specific needs, it also can be converted into a multi-tenant building should T&B outgrow the space.

Build-to-suit office developments are tailor-made to the user’s requirements and are, therefore, complex projects that require special attentiveness to a user’s needs. Intense coordination, and flexibility in acquiring sites. Halperin says Boyle has the necessary depth and resources to provide whatever a client’s unique circumstances require. In fact, some of the most significant office development projects in Memphis over the past six years have been build-to-suits handled by Boyle.

According to Halperin, a build-to-suit office project is tenant driven and is based on the client’s unique project requirements, such as the number of employees; company departmental needs; floor plan logistics; landscaping preferences; whether it is necessary for the company to be located near employees and customers; and, the amenities a company wants to make available to its employees. From start to finish, large build-to-suit projects take anywhere from 18 months to two and a half years.

With build-to-suit projects, it is crucial that companies work with experienced developers who are capable of simultaneously directing and coordinating a multitude of involved parties ranging for site consultants, and communications consultants. Because most build-to-suit are planned developments, a real estate developer must be able to navigate their client through the complex governmental approval process. This is a time sensitive process that can threaten the overall completion of a project if not handled properly.

To demonstrate the complexity of a build-to-suit deal, Halperin references the T&B headquarters project. The first phase of the six-phase T&B project includes a 227,000-square-foot, four-story office building, with plans to build five additional office buildings on the 45-acre site, bringing the total office space to 650,000 square feet.

According to Craig Havener, vice president of properties at T&B, the selection process is the key to the success of a build-to-suit office project. "We interviewed five different developers, both local and national, and requested detailed proposals from the two local companies before making the final selection," says Havener. "It was a tough decision, but ultimately we selected Boyle because they had the best business package. We’re very pleased with our selection."

Boyle and T&B worked for one year to finalize an agreement with complex formulas and procedures that provides T&B with the ability to expand. "During the period, our program was changing rapidly due to the company’s growth. Initially, we needed 150,000 square feet, but our basic size requirements changed twice and ultimately increased to 227,000 square feet. It is, therefore, crucial that a client work with a developer who can be flexible and quickly adapt to meet changing client needs." Havener explains.

"Boyle has been an integral part of our T&B team throughout this project." says Havener. "For example, Boyle played a critical role in assessing the property and negotiating its purchase. Although Boyle already had property in their portfolio appropriate for our project, they assisted us with the purchase of property that was even more ideally suited for our headquarters." Concludes Havener.

Thomas & Betts will move into the new facility in late 1997.