About seven months after acquiring the former Carmike Cinemas corporate headquarters in downtown Columbus, developer Will White has found a tenant for nearly half the building.
Hall Booth Smith PC, a law firm that has offices throughout the Southeast, including Columbus, has leased part of the ground floor and all of the third and fourth floors of the five-story building at the corner of 13th Street and First Avenue, White said.
The law firm will occupy the building beginning Jan. 1, White said. Hall Booth Smith merged with Hatcher Stubbs Land and Hollis two years ago and has been housed in the Corporate Center on 12th Street, the longtime home of the Hatcher firm.
“Both the history of the building and the location were attractive,” said Paul Ivey, managing partner for the Hall Booth Smith Columbus firm.
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Hall Booth Smith will be moving 17 attorneys and a total of 34 employees into the space, Ivey said.
In early May, Greyrock Properties LLC purchased the headquarters building at 1301 1st Ave. and a four-story building at 301 13th St. for $3.2 million, according to deed records filed in Muscogee County Superior Court.
The prime downtown real estate became available when Carmike — a local business institution since its founding as Martin Theaters in the 1930s — was sold to Kansas-based AMC Entertainment Holdings in December 2016.
With the property purchase came all of the movie-themed decor, furniture and much of the office equipment. White had been marketing the headquarters building as move-in ready.
“I think they are going to use what is there for the most part,” White said. “I know they will use the furniture and copiers. I think they will re-carpet some areas and spruce it up a little bit, but that’s about it.”
Ivey said uniqueness of the space is one of the things that makes it attractive.
“Carmike was one of our customers and we still do some work for AMC,” Ivey said. “We plan to keep a lot of the movie posters on the wall. You can walk in and see a poster from ‘Gone with the Wind.’ There are hand-drawn sketches of John Wayne, Clint Eastwood and Tom Cruise on the walls. It is unique.”
Carmike, which was in the movie distribution business, had a high-quality movie theater on the third floor. The law firm will use that theater, White said.
“We will do client events in the theater — we have already had one football watching party,” Ivey said.
But there is also more specific use for that space.
“We can use it as a mock courtroom for trial preparation as well as mock juries,” Ivey said. “It is also perfect for training and seminars. We will get a lot of use out of it.”
Half of the ground floor and all of the second and fifth floors remain to be leased, White said.
“I think that the second floor is very leasable,” White said. “It’s about 10,000 square feet and its quality office space.”
The fifth floor, which contained the executive suite that was used by the Carmike president, offers challenges, but White said he would consider the possibility of making it residential space.
There are four bathrooms and a kitchen on the top floor with two rooftop courtyards that provide unique views of downtown Columbus.
“We have thought about it,” White said when asked if there was a possibility to make it high-end penthouse living space. “I think that you could make a great penthouse out of it.”
White, primarily an apartment developer and operator, in the last few years has expanded his portfolio, adding office buildings to his multi-family residential development business, Greystone Properties Management LLC. White owns all or part of about two dozen office buildings scattered throughout Columbus. One of the Greyrock Properties is the Wells Fargo building across First Avenue from the Carmike building.