Woodlands Office Park: idyllic setting, city convenience

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Published: August 29,2005

Ridgeland — “Oh, how you wish you’d packed your binoculars instead of your briefcase.”

That is the lead in to an advertisement for Woodlands Office Park located on County Line Road in Ridgeland. And while most tenants in the office park probably don’t have bird watching binoculars on their desk, they do appreciate the country atmosphere.

“We see hawks flying around here,” said Tim Medley, president Medley & Brown, Financial Advisors. “I’ve seen deer early in the morning. It is pretty cool.”

And the bottom line also makes him happy. Medley previously owned an office building, and appreciates the manner in which Woodlands Office Park is managed.

“We have been very happy,” he said. “The operation is managed in a first-class manner. They have maintenance people on site so that if we have a problem, within the hour somebody is addressing it. And they are very business-like and fair in their negotiations.”

One of the newest tenants at Woodlands Office Park is SouthGroup Insurance Services. SouthGroup president Ronald P. Tubertini said they looked at office space all over the Jackson area before deciding that the woodsy environment combined with a convenient location made a perfect fit.

“The most attractive things to me were a very pleasant environment and a good location,” Tubertini said. “It is very quiet. Its location is very convenient being close to numerous restaurants and shops. We were in Jackson, and Woodlands is on the north side of County Line Road. We are in Ridgeland in Madison County, but Jackson is just across the street. Since we have been here, we’ve really enjoyed it. The management has been quite responsive to us. It is convenient for customers. We have as many local customers in Madison County as we do in Jackson. It has worked out very well for us.”

Woodlands Office Park was originally a Trammel Crow development constructed from the late 1980s to early 1990s. There are four office buildings at the park providing a total of 170,000 square feet of space.

Russell Wilcox, president of Woodlands Realty Group, which manages and leases the park, said a major draw is being “in the middle of convenience.”

“You can get to many restaurants, banks and retail facilities within a stone’s throw of here,” Wilcox said. “You have rooftops around you, and you have major traffic corridors around you. However, that being said, when you enter the park you kind of lose sight of where you are. We have a mature landscape with lots of trees and bushes that give the feeling of being in the woods. We have azaleas, hardwoods and pine trees set in gently rolling hills. The park is hidden away in all the trees. It is a very serene, tranquil setting, but is in the middle of all this activity. It is in a great location.”

Another plus, Wilcox said, is offering quality office space at an affordable price. New construction along Highland Colony Parkway and the 1-55 corridor around Meadowbrook can cost $23 or $24 per square foot.

“But we offer quality space at $18 per foot,” he said. “You can certainly get less expensive space, but we don’t think it will offer you the quality or the setting we are offering. We have the best of both worlds: It is a nice place for employees and a place where clients feel comfortable. But it is not extravagant. It doesn’t hit the bottom line as hard as other places.”

The buildings are made of brick with a lot of exterior glass windows that provide a view of the landscape. Wilcox says there isn’t a bad office space in the park, as far as the view goes.

There are always maintenance issues that can come up with buildings. While Woodlands can’t prevent all problems, they work to rectify them as soon as possible.

“We meet with tenants face-to-face and say, ‘Here is the situation, and this is what we are going to do to fix it,’” Wilcox said. “I try to create a good relationship with my tenants in the park. We recently remodeled the common areas of three of the buildings. That has been done within the past two years. That updated the interior of the buildings to help us compete with some of the newer construction.

“Woodlands also periodically puts on tenant appreciation events such as serving donuts and orange juice to all the tenants. We also have lunch catered in the fall for all tenants in the office park. We do it outside, so people can enjoy the cool fall weather. The landscape makes for a nice setting. Tenants get to sit down, talk and mingle. I think they enjoy and appreciate it.”

Wilcox, who was in the banking industry before entering commercial real estate nine years ago, says managing and leasing this park is his ideal job. “If you had asked me what my thoughts of the ideal job were when I left banking for commercial real estate, I would have said managing and leasing this exact office park,” Wilcox said. “We’re sitting here as a hidden gem in the city.”

Contact MBJ contributing writer Becky Gillette at bgillette@bellsouth.net.

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