State proposes closure of downtown Memphis office building - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

State proposes closure of downtown Memphis office building

MEMPHIS, TN - (WMC-TV) – The Shelby County government is pouring millions into renovating its 1960's era administration building in Memphis' Civic Center Plaza.

It's something the state of Tennessee is apparently unwilling to do to its office building right next door.  That building could soon be shuttered.

"The cost to update and maintain the current facility is greater than it would be to house the employees in another location," said TN Department of General Services spokesperson Kelly Smith.

The proposed closure was included in Governor Bill Haslam's budget presented to lawmakers Monday night.  It was recommended by the Department of General Services which estimates the cost of needed upgrades would reach $9.2 million.

"If they're going to leave that building empty, there's got to be some state effort to re-purpose that building," said Downtown Memphis Commission president Paul Morris.

Morris was just on the news last week talking about Pinnacle Airlines ditching downtown.

He said having an iconic piece of an architecturally significant area sitting empty would be the worst-case scenario.

"It hurts business, it hurts our reputation as a state to have our largest city to have empty buildings in the downtown area," said Morris.  "And for the state to pull out of civic center plaza is bad, no way around that."

Morris was encouraged Governor Haslam wants to, at least, keep the state's 900 employees in the downtown area.  That would happen through leasing space elsewhere or having a private investor buy the state building and lease it back to the state.

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