Belz Architecture & Construction completes a 25,000 sf facility for LeBonheur Community Health & Well-being in Downtown Memphis

Friday, May 27, 2011

It would have been Downtown's biggest office recruitment in recent years if Pinnacle Airlines Corp. hadn't snatched that distinction.

Instead, Le Bonheur Community Health and Well-being settled for runnerup status by committing to bring about 135 health outreach workers to Main Street.

Thursday morning, the Center City Commission threw a party celebrating Le Bonheur's move to 50 Peabody Place at Main, the former Haverty's building.

"It's great because it brings more feet on the street to Downtown and more people to the community," said Center City president Paul Morris. "Le Bonheur was already in the pipeline when Pinnacle came up. It was going to be the biggest office relocation to the Downtown core in a long time."
 
Pinnacle will bring about 600 employees from the airport area later this year. Le Bonheur occupied space on three floors of the Haverty's building in March.

The space, owned by Belz Enterprises, had previously been an advertising and public relations agency.

The lobby and conference areas are open and airy, conducive to an atmosphere of collaboration among employees.

"This was Thompson & Co.'s space, so it was cool to begin with," said Lisa Brumleve, a business recruiter for Center City.

Le Bonheur moved the programs from the hospital and an office building at 2400 Union in Midtown. Johnson's group also has employees at the hospital, in Tipton County and in Jackson, Tenn.
 
"We're not spread out any more," said Rev. Corey Johnson, administrative director. "Having everybody under one roof is really beneficial. It has an educational benefit because we've learned more about what each other does. The spiritual piece is that we realize we're all part of the same team.

" Covering 25,500 square feet on third, fourth and fifth floors, the office is home to programs that include a teen pregnancy prevention program, Be Proud! Be Responsible! Memphis; an advocacy group, Voices for Memphis Children; the Center for Children and Parents; Le Bonheur Early Intervention and Development, for children 3 and younger with development delays or other diagnoses; and the Community HIV Network.

Johnson said referrals among programs have increased as workers learn about other programs and identify needs in their target communities.

LaTonya Dixon, an outreach educator in the teen pregnancy prevention program, said, "We're really big on referring. We all come down and mingle."
 
The pregnancy prevention program, funded by a $4 million, five-year grant, conducts classes in middle and high schools. It served 1,200 students at Trezevant and Northside this year and will double next year.
 
Gary Cook, director of grant administration, said it's evident that employees have "a spring in their step" because of their well-designed and conveniently located office. "It's like we work two half-days with a nice break in the middle," he said.

In contrast to the former office's relative isolation, Downtown offers numerous dining options and walkable places.
 
Le Bonheur officials credited Downtown development incentives with sealing the deal. The Center City Development Corp. provided a $75,000 office incentive grant to defray a portion of tenant improvements.

"Financially, this made a lot more sense to us," said Cook. "Our rent is actually lower here."

"We don't give incentives unless they tip the scale," said Center City's Morris.

Johnson said the group can grow as new programs are funded. "We have room to grow, so we're really excited."

Commercial Appeal -- Wayne Risher: 529-2874