Office/hotel tower to rise Downtown next to FedEx Logistics

In a powerful one-two punch for Downtown, developers on Tuesday announced an eight-story, 250,000-square-foot office tower with a 250-room full-service hotel will rise next to where FedEx Logistics is moving its global headquarters into the Gibson Guitar building.

WAYNE RISHER: FedEx Logistics announces headquarters at Gibson Guitar building 

Called The Clipper, the new, $250 million office tower/hotel will include 50,000 square feet of ground-floor space for potential restaurants and retailers, multi-level parking and public green spaces.

The hotel will feature “best-in-class” food, a rooftop deck and conference center. Senate Hospitality, which owns the nearby Westin Beale Street, will be a partner.

The same landlords who own the Gibson Guitar building own the property where The Clipper will rise: New York-based real estate investment firm Somera Road Inc., its affiliate Somera Gibson Holdings, and local partner Orgel Family LP.

The Clipper will be built on what is now a 385-space, surface parking lots at 0 Pontotoc, immediately south of where Gibson Guitar is.

“A strong Downtown Memphis is critical, and we wanted to be a part of its momentum,” Ian Ross, managing director of Somera Road, said in a release. “We are thrilled to welcome the FedEx family to the Gibson building…”

The Clipper is a FedEx reference, to company founder Frederick W. Smith’s analogy that FedEx is the clipper ship of the computer age. A sculpture of a clipper ship will be placed prominently as part of the FedEx Logistics development.

Richard W. Smith, president and chief executive of FedEx Logistics, said in a prepared statement, “I am thrilled about this development project, which along with the FedEx Logistics headquarters at the former Gibson Guitar Factory building, will unlock massive opportunity for our business community and transform this southwest area of downtown Memphis into a thriving campus for our growing company.

“This is an ideal location for a global business like ours, which will benefit tremendously from the talent we will be able to attract to downtown Memphis,” he said.

“The Clipper represents the cutting edge of a live/work/play environment,”  project partner Benjamin Orgel said in the release. “This is the next wave of energy that Memphis’ residents, employees and visitors need.”

MICHELLE CORBET: First public incentives revealed for FedEx Logistics’ Downtown Memphis HQ

Downtown Memphis Commission president and chief executive Jennifer Oswalt said new development and density are exciting and “replacing surface parking lots with mixed-use development aligns well with the mission of the DMC.”

“Having two projects of this magnitude happening across the street from each other along with everything else happening downtown — St. Jude, Union Row, the Riverfront — shows the strength of our momentum,” Mayor Jim Strickland said in the release. “I said during my State of the City address that we’re going to ‘build up, not out,’ and this project is a prime example of that.”

Ross said developers weren’t ready to discuss yet what public incentives they’ll be seeking from the Downtown Memphis Commission and its affiliates, although he said,  “A project of this magnitude won’t work without public support and public incentives. With regards to specifics, we’re really not there yet, and we’re still kind of compiling our research and our work.”

Ross said there would be a public parking component, but The Clipper and FedEx Logistics wouldn’t be totally dependent on parking built on The Clipper site. He said arrangements have been worked out to use other parking facilities, such as at the FedExForum and the Lee’s Landing garage. The facilities have heavy night-time demand but spaces available during the day.

The Clipper project will include approximately three parking spaces per 1,000 square feet, he said. The total spaces in the project is still to be determined, Ross said.

Cushman & Wakefield/Commercial Advisors will manage commercial leasing services of The Clipper.

Ross said other contractor/professional service providers would be ESa (Earl Swensson Associates Inc.) of Nashville, architects on office tower; Danny Bounds of Bounds & Gillespie Architects of Memphis on the hotel; Kansas City contractor J.E. Dunn, contractor on The Clipper; and Kimley-Horn, engineers.

All information on The Clipper, including 3-D renderings and videos, can be found at

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