A financial advisory firm is the first to sign on the dotted line for space in Cool Springs IV, the latest Highwoods building in the booming office hub.
Axa Advisors has committed to more than 8,400 square feet on the first floor, up from about 5,100 square feet in Highwoods’ 3322 West End building. The five-year lease is worth about $1 million.
Jimmy Miller represented Highwoods in the deal, while Dick Fleming of Nashville Commercial Real Estate Services worked with Axa Advisors.
“Cool Springs is a build-it-and-they-will-come market,” Fleming said. “We often see no pre-leasing until a building is halfway out of the ground. Then the tenants will begin to roll in.”
Axa Advisors Executive VP and local branch manager John Parham could not be reached for comment on his team’s move. His office  is one of seven in Tennessee. Parent company Axa Group is headquartered in France and has a presence in more than 60 countries.
Cool Springs IV , which will open this August, is a six-story, 154,000-square-foot project along the lines of three other Highwoods sites in the Corporate Centre area, where Crescent Resources and Boyle Investments also are adding space. The company’s fifth property in the area is the new headquarters for Healthways at Cool Springs Boulevard and Carothers Parkway.
Tech firm upgrades to smaller space
Beacon Technologies is moving to new digs on Donelson Pike at the end of this month.
The new space is smaller than Beacon’s current location off Elm Hill Pike – 8,000 square feet versus about 15,000 square feet – which Director of Sales Len Prieskorn says reflects the company’s leaner inventories and supply lines. Beacon’s move will boost its office footprint by a fifth to 6,000 square feet while cutting warehouse space from 10,000 square feet to 2,000 square feet.
Prieskorn said the new site also will feature a more expansive showroom to give clients and prospects a better chance to touch and test various products. Beacon markets and maintains communication and technology systems.
“It’ll make it much more of a sales tool for us,” he said.
Rob Gage of Colliers Turley Martin Tucker represented Beacon, which has built a niche serving school systems. With $15 million in 2007 sales, it employs about 70 people, 50 of which work in the field.
Local entrepreneurs Joe Maxwell and Charles Blankenship – who helped grow Investment Scorecard into a national player before selling to a New York company  – are the majority shareholders of Beacon. Several other execs own a small stake in the company.
Design aficionados sketch Music City Center vision
A group of local architecture enthusiasts have collaborated on a Web site proposing a design philosophy for the Music City Center in SoBro.
The plans emphasize street access – preserving pedestrian walkways extending Sixth and Seventh avenues through the project – by burying the main convention hall into the natural slop of Demonbreun Street.
Cliff Lippard, a member of the design group, said he and his collaborators were spurred to conceptualize their thoughts after SoBro was picked as the site for the Music City Center, which is projected to cost more than $600 million.
“There were a lot of questions about whether it was even possible to design anything other than a big box,” he said.
An introduction to the site  tells visitors to take the actual look of the sketches with a grain of salt: “This study is not focused on façades or stylistic details as much as it is upon the basic form of building masses, the arrangement of land uses, and the facility's integration with its larger context.”