Nothing says gala like marble columns and high ceilings, and the old National Bank of Commerce lobby has both in spades.
One Commerce Square Partners hope to gin up extra cash flow by drawing fancy events to the historic bank lobby next door to their iconic office tower.
They have hired Resource Entertainment Group, an entertainment booking and venue management company, to rent The Columns at One Commerce Square for weddings, corporate functions and charity fundraisers.
After Nov. 1, Pinnacle Airlines Corp. won't need the space as a staging area for its headquarters relocation to floors 2-14 in the tower.
Resource Entertainment Group was hired last October to stage a party welcoming Pinnacle to Downtown; the company also produced Pinnacle's holiday party last December.
Gary Prosterman, the Commerce Square partner who is overseeing development, said The Columns is a nice interim use while owners seek a long-term tenant.
"The right user could pop up in six months or three years; you don't really know. In the interim, what we're doing is working an arrangement with Resource Entertainment Group, which came highly recommended to us, to run it as an event facility."
The annex, which dates to the 1920s, has about 50,000 square feet on five levels. The Columns consists of the ornate lobby with its 20 marble columns, plus a basement with two large vaults and wood-paneled conference room. Upper floors contain office space. A nine-story parking structure is attached.
The annex has a track record as a venue for special events. Pat Tigrett used it in 2009 for the Memphis Charitable Foundation's "Out of This World Evening" featuring astronaut Buzz Aldrin. The Memphis Symphony Orchestra kicked off its Opus series there in 2010.
REG partner Paul Chandler said the American Red Cross Memphis chapter booked the space for a fundraiser Nov. 19. In the pipeline are a wedding and a New Year's Eve party.
"When we were tasked to pull together the announcement of Pinnacle Airlines moving Downtown, we were shown the space," said Chandler, whose 7-year-old Downtown-based company primarily books live entertainment, but also does entertainment venue management and consulting.
"We noticed how large and flexible the space was and how gorgeous it was from an architectural standpoint," Chandler said. "It has those high ceilings. There's just so much to work with."
Stacey Keene, who oversaw banquet hall rentals at Bonne Terre Country Inn in Nesbit for six years, is handling bookings for The Columns. For more information, call 543-1155.