(WMC-TV) - The state of Tennessee officially signed a lease for new digs in downtown Memphis, and now the city of Memphis is exploring whether it makes sense to move in the state's old building.
Meanwhile, downtown leaders just want it occupied.
"The state is abandoning the Civic Center Plaza Hill building ... and we're not happy about it," said Downtown Memphis Commission president Paul Morris.
The state has occupied the landmark building since 1968. The anticipated move was affirmed Friday when state officials approved a 15-year lease in nearby One Commerce Square where some 400 workers will relocate by next April of 2014.
'We hope the state will, in good faith, keep up their property in the meantime and water their plants outside," said Morris. "And keep the building in good condition and find another purpose for it because we want this building occupied."
One option may be a transfer of the building from the state to either city or county government, both of which share civic center plaza.
City officials confirm they are exploring options to centralize some employees currently working in offices all over town. And there has been talk for months about relocating Memphis Police headquarters in order to avoid paying rent for the top two floors at 201 Poplar.
"It makes sense for downtown Memphis, for that building to be occupied by office workers because it stimulates the economy down here, and we do not need an empty office tower in Civic Center Plaza because that sends a bad message to the world," said Morris.
The state will pay $1.9 million a year to lease space at One Commerce Square. It considers the building "functionally obsolete."
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