Highwoods Properties’ $90M Strategic Move in Memphis

The company sold three properties totaling 332,000 square feet as part of its market rotation plan.
International Place IV. Image via Google Street View

Highwoods Properties Inc. has sold two office assets in Memphis, Tenn., in separate transactions totaling $89.6 million. The disposition of International Place IV and Atrium I & II, which account for an aggregate 332,000 square feet, are part of the REIT’s market rotation plan.

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Highwoods closed the sale of the 248,000-square-foot International Place IV in a transaction valued at $76.4 million. The REIT developed the nine-story office building, located at 1740 International Drive, at a cost of approximately $56 million in 2014 as a build-to-suit for International Paper. Highwoods’ $13.2 million sale of Atrium I & II, twin office buildings just outside Memphis proper in Germantown, Tenn., is on schedule to reach completion by year’s end. The two two-story buildings, developed at 6800 Poplar Ave. in 1984, encompass 84,000 square feet and have an average occupancy level of 96 percent.

Portfolio repositioning

In August 2019, Highwoods announced its new market rotation plan, designed to ultimately improve the quality of the company’s portfolio and strengthen cash flows while being leverage neutral. The strategy calls for the office REIT’s exit from slower-growth markets and the recycling of capital into the best business districts of higher-growth markets, starting with Charlotte, N.C. Highwoods made its entrée into Charlotte in August with the announcement of its deal to acquire Bank of America Tower at Legacy Union, an approximately 868,000-square-foot office project in the coveted Uptown submarket, from developer Lincoln Harris for $436 million.

In addition to Memphis, Greensboro, S.C., is also on Highwoods’ list of slower-growth markets targeted for dispositions as part of the two-phased market rotation plan. The sales of the International Place and Atrium properties mark the first closings of the initial phase, which entails the completion of dispositions that will combine to mirror the investment made in Bank of America Tower by mid-2020. “We’re going to continue to grind through, and I think we feel very confident in what our plan is,” Theodore Klinck, president & CEO of Highwoods Properties Inc., said during the REIT’s third quarter 2019 conference call on October 23. “It’s just going to take some time, but no need to really do a fire sale in our opinion.” The second phase will result in the disposition of all remaining properties in Memphis and Greensboro within an unspecified timeframe.