Nissan-linked company inks lease in LaVergne

Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 1:27am

Nashville’s industrial real estate business got sluggish in the last half of 2007 but this year has started with a 300,000-square-foot pop.

Auburn Hills, Mich.-based George P. Johnson, a marketing company with Nissan connections, has leased 300,000 square feet in Crescent Resources’ Centre Pointe industrial park in LaVergne, according to sources.

Nashville Commercial/Cushman & Wakefield brokers who handled the deal — Buist Richardson, Buster Weber, Jay Frazer and Wes Thomas — declined comment. Ron Colter with Crescent Resources deferred to the park’s new tenant.

Johnson officials weren’t available to discuss details of the operation.

It currently has a small office in a Crescent managed building in Cool Springs, near where the Nissan Americas headquarters building is under construction. The company has been the talk of the real estate industry for the past several months because the lease likely will be one of largest industrial leases this year. Last year, the lease would have ranked third in a year that had 2 million square feet of net leasing.

Industrial brokers said the lease is a strong start to a year in which interest in warehouse space has picked up considerably.

“There are more potential deals in the marketplace than in all of 2007,” said Randy Wolcott, a broker with ProVenture Commercial. “With 300,000 square feet, there’s only one Class-A opportunity in the I-24 corridor.”

Wolcott said the push will be toward State Route 840 and Interstate 40 where there’s 3 million square feet finished or under construction.

Johnson, a 94-year-old company, creates marketing campaigns for major brands. Its work includes events and trade-show exhibits. Johnson has done a considerable amount of work with the auto industry.

One recent piece of business involved the Jeep Soul2Soul Tour with Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. Nissan is likely a client considering Carlos Ghosn, chief executive of Nissan and Renault, is pictured on the company’s Web site under the relationships heading.

Johnson’s requirement initially started at 75,000 square feet, according to sources, and would have meant more than $2 million in new capital investment and employed about 50 people.

Now that the space is bigger, the number of employees may be higher along with the investment. The wage range was $11.52 per hour to a little more than $22 per hour.

“This is new business to Nashville,” sad Dave McGahren, a broker with Colliers Turley Martin Tucker. “Hopefully, this trend in deals continues.”

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