Pinnacle departure leaves huge hole in downtown building - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Pinnacle departure leaves huge hole in downtown building

MEMPHIS, TN - (WMC-TV) –Pinnacle Airlines occupies 11 floors at One Commerce Square in a building that might have been shuttered if the company had not relocated there less than two years ago.

The vacancy left by Pinnacle "flying the coop" will leave a huge hole in downtown Memphis.

"It's bad news for Memphis, it's bad news for downtown, and I don't want to understate that," said Downtown Memphis Commission president Paul Morris.

But Morris remains relatively optimistic.

"The fact that they were here, even for a short time they were downtown, it facilitated the redevelopment of One Commerce Square," said Morris. "Which before they came was at risk of going empty and going dark."

Morris said the focus will now shift to finding a replacement for Pinnacle, which decided to move its headquarters to Minneapolis as part of a bankruptcy restructuring. It affects some 500 employees.

"Both Memphis and the State of Minnesota presented very strong cases," said Pinnacle CEO John Spanjers in a statement. "In the end, it was an economic decision."

"This is a high stakes game and you've got to be prepared to win some and lose some," said Memphis Mayor A C Wharton during a news conference he called after Pinnacle announced its decision.

"We are actually underway looking at other tenants," said Wharton.

The city gave no direct incentives to Pinnacle other than free parking. Private investors helped renovate One Commerce Square. The building is now home to Independent Bank and other companies that followed Pinnacle downtown.

"And that's what we will turn our attention to: figuring out a way to fill that space," said Morris.

A Pinnacle spokesman said the future of its approximately 500 employees in Memphis has yet to be determined.

Tentative plans call for the move to Minnesota to be completed by May 2013.

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