Emery is hot on Cool Springs

Wednesday, August 17, 2005 at 1:00am

Conversation with a Leader
Crescent is the largest commercial landholder in the Cool Springs area. What's next?

Crescent currently owns 277 undeveloped acres in Cool Springs. After completing seven Class A office buildings in Cool Springs totaling 1 million square feet, Crescent has just announced Eight Corporate Centre, a 156,000-square-foot Class A office building on the 277-acre site. Crescent has also zoned 428 apartment units on this property and has been discussing the possibility of adding retail, residential and corporate headquarters offices to the site.

How difficult was it to secure the 16 Fortune 500 companies now in Cool Springs-based Crescent-built facilities?

In 1996, when Crescent started One Corporate Centre, Cool Springs seemed too far away from Nashville. We were fortunate in that the market was very limited in its available space. Cigna was the first to move from Nashville to Cool Springs. One reason they came was that space choices were limited in Nashville. Once the Cool Springs market became an established location, it became the new place to be.

Patrick G. Emery, regional vice president, Crescent Resources LLC

Hometown: Seoul, Korea
Age: 55
Education: University of Oklahoma
First conventional job: Newspaper carrier, Daily Oklahoman
Hypothetical dream job: Detective
A veteran of the local commercial real estate community, Emery helps oversee 13 employees working from Crescent Resources' Brentwood office. The company, based in Charlotte and with a nine-year presence in the Nashville market, was formed in 1969 by Duke Energy. Emery serves on or has served on various local boards, including those of the Nashville Ballet, Franklin American Mortgage's LPGA Tournament, and the Tennessee State Fairgrounds.

What is your take on the competition between downtown and Cool Springs for commercial real estate development?

Cool Springs has available land, a number of well-qualified developers, and a business friendly environment. Downtown is more of a challenge for sites and market demand. Absorption year-to-date in Cool Springs is 101,703 square feet compared to that of downtown, which is negative 90,365 square feet. But I do see a change occurring downtown that makes me a little more optimistic about its future.

Describe the significance of your recent CentrePointe Distribution Park deal with Hot Topic.

Hot Topic was in the market searching for an East Coast distribution center. We had been studying the idea of changing our development from a rear-load building to one of the larger cross-dock facilities. We showed this new building to Hot Topic, which they liked. They selected Rutherford County and Crescent Resources. Crescent was able to deliver a new building to Hot Topic within six months of their decision. This took the combined efforts of Hot Topic and Crescent, as well as T.W. Frierson. We also gave Hot Topic an option to purchase the property upon completion, which they exercised. It is rare that a tenant actually exercises its option to purchase.

You have just broken ground on CentrePointe 7. Your thoughts?

We pulled together the same team, including T.W. Frierson, to build CentrePointe 7, a 500,000-square-foot warehouse. The building, which is 200,000-square-feet larger than the Hot Topic building, should be available for occupancy by March 1, 2006. David McRae, director of leasing for Crescent Resources, has a number of prospects already interested in the building. We have additional plans for other buildings this size and up to 900,000 square feet in our CentrePointe project.

Why is Crescent sometime confused as a real estate investment trust?

In the Metropolitan Nashville area, most of the large real estate companies are REITs, the majority of which are publicly traded. Crescent Resources is a wholly owned subsidiary of Duke Energy Corp. Because of our size and the ability to do large projects, most everyone thinks we are a REIT. We are part of a Fortune 500 company that started us in 1969. Since Duke is a public company, I'm sure it's easy to think we are also a REIT.

What are your strengths and weakness as a businessman?

Attention to detail has served me well in my career. I have always enjoyed working with governments, neighborhoods and all the companies that comprise the development industry. My weakness would be spending too much time working through all the issues presented by the various groups we come in contact with during the development process.

Crescent has a number of employees working on tenant relations that go beyond space management.

We believe in providing a higher level of service to our tenants than our competition. It became obvious to us that tenants really enjoy all the little things that make their life easier. From events and blood drives to discounted movie tickets, we are trying to make our users' lives easier in these stressful times. It has turned out to be a benefit for both of us. The companies like to stay and occupy space in Corporate Centre, while our buildings have stayed 98 percent leased during the past year.

What is the local Crescent office's main challenge?

We haven't been able to find a good site in the city of Nashville, which I continually try to locate. The challenge of finding that site has been hampered by lack of available sites, zoning or cost. Art Fields [Crescent president and CEO and a former Mathew Co. official for 19 years] and I would like to develop a Class A office building in Nashville and Davidson County.

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