Catherine's HQ in Memphis to be auctioned June 9th


A two-building, 100,000-square-foot office complex in suburban Memphis that previously served as the world headquarters of Catherine's Stores Corp., the plus-size women's clothing retailer, will be sold at auction on Tuesday, June 9, at noon, by Roebuck Auctions. The sale will take place at the Roebuck Real Estate Auction Gallery, at 4932 Park Avenue in Memphis.


[USPRwire, Mon May 25 2009] A two-building, 100,000-square-foot office complex in suburban Memphis that previously served as the world headquarters of Catherine's Stores Corp., the plus-size women's clothing retailer, will be sold at auction on Tuesday, June 9, at noon, by Roebuck Auctions. The sale will take place at the Roebuck Real Estate Auction Gallery, at 4932 Park Avenue in Memphis.

The buildings are situated on a little over five acres of prime commercial property, at 3728-3742 Lamar Avenue. The main building, totaling about 49,150 square feet, was built in the mid-1960s. The second structure, a 50,600-square-foot conference center, was constructed in the early 1950s and served as the first headquarters location of Holiday Inn, founded by the noted entrepreneur Kemmons Wilson.

Mr. Wilson designed the building himself, not just for office use but as a place to demonstrate how a hotel could be set up and operated. It was an early display model of sorts, or template, for what would become a wildly successful chain of family-friendly hotels. In that regard, the building has real historical significance and perhaps deserves consideration for the National Register of Historic Places.

Holiday Inn occupied both buildings until a few years ago, when it sold them to Catherine's. But when Catherine's was acquired by Charming Shoppes, Inc., of Bethlehem, Pa., in 2008, it vacated the Memphis facility and Catherine's was relocated to Pennsylvania. Charming Shoppes is a family of women's retail apparel companies -- Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug, Petite Sophisticate and Catherine's.

The buildings are not presently tenanted, but some furniture and fixtures are included and the property is virtually turnkey for a new owner. The fact hat it is being sold at auction is a sign of the times. “A lot of companies are turning to the auction method of marketing to liquidate their commercial buildings,” said Robert A. Shively of Roebuck Auctions. “I'd say Charming Shoppes made a wise choice.”

Mr. Shively added, “This is an example of how a Pennsylvania-based retail company very shrewdly assessed market conditions and decided to liquidate a very desirable commercial property – but one nonetheless that might have remained on the market for months or even longer if they'd looked to sell it through a broker – and went with a nationally recognized auction firm, Roebuck Auctions.”

The property is easily divisible and would be ideal for an owner or user-investor. Features include elevator service, key card access to building and parking; camera surveillance inside and out; secured parking (gated, fended and lit); ample parking (206 secured spaces, 59 public spaces); two back-up generators; and supplemental air in the data center. Inspections are available by appointment.

Before he founded Roebuck Auctions, in the '70s, John Roebuck operated several gas stations in the Memphis area and got to know Kemmons Wilson, to the point where the two became good friends. “He was always out and about, and he'd often stop by the stations to say hello,” Mr. Roebuck recalled. “He was always inventing something – even candy – and he'd want to get my take on his latest idea.”

When Roebuck traded in his filling station bow-tie and cap for a Realtor's license, and later an auctioneer's license, too, their bond became even stronger. “He knew I found the good deals, and he was a very deal-driven kind of a guy,” Mr. Roebuck said with a laugh, “so he'd always ask what was out there. We'd always get together with our wives and go out on our birthdays, to talk and celebrate.”

Mr. Wilson passed away a few years ago, having built a hotel empire with little more than grit, vision and an eighth-grade education. “He was a great entrepreneur and a great American,” Mr. Roebuck said. “He had an uncanny knack for coming up with new ideas for building hotels. It was Kemmons who was the first to raise a four-story hotel building in just a few days. He was quite a guy.”

Holiday Inn has deep roots in Memphis. Mr. Wilson opened the first one there in September 1952, at 4941 Summer Avenue in the Berclair district of the city, on the main road to and from Nashville. That hotel no longer exists, but a historic sign marks where it once stood. In 1954, Mr. Wilson incorporated the Holiday Inn chain with his longtime business partner, Wallace Johnson.

Mr. Wilson came up with the idea for his hotels after a disappointing road trip to Washington, D.C., during which he was disappointed by the quality and consistency offered by the roadside motels of the era. The name Holiday Inn was actually suggested by the architect of his very first hotel, Eddie Bluestein, mainly as a joke. He was making a reference to the Bing Crosby movie of the same name.

The Holiday Inn formula required that each property be standardized, clean, consistent, family-friendly and readily accessible to road travelers. By 1958 there were 50 Holiday Inns nationwide. Ten years later, the firm opened its 1,000th location, in San Antonio, Tex. Holiday Inn dominated the market and set the standard for all that followed. Wilson was featured on the cover of TIME magazine in 1972.

The commercial building and conference center will be sold in what is called an absolute auction, meaning that there are no minimums and no reserves. The gavel will fall at the highest bid price, regardless of what that is. Three other commercial properties will also come up for bid in the same sale. For more information, log on to www.roebuckauctions.com, or call (888) 763-2825.

Roebuck Auctions has grown into one of the premier full-service auction-marketing companies in the United States. The firm has offices in Memphis, Huntsville, Ala., and Destin, Fla. It has been conducting residential and commercial real estate auctions nationwide for over 35 years and has sold over $3 billion in assets. Real estate is the fastest growing segment of the $300 billion auction industry.

For more information about Roebuck Auctions and the June 9 absolute auction, you may log on to www.roebuckauctions.com.

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