Limbaugh, Johnson law firms readying to move

Monday, October 24, 2005
The Johnson and Stark law firm is building new offices at the north lot of Broadway between Main and Water streets. (Diane L. Wilson)

Two Cape Girardeau-based law practices will be on the move next year, with one moving to downtown and the other moving from a building it has occupied since the 1970s.

The prestigious Limbaugh, Russell, Payne & Howard has long been at its current offices at 2027 Broadway. But the firm's partners will be moving next year into their new building, which they bought over the summer.

The firm bought the Regions Bank building at 407 N. Kingshighway and plans to occupy the top two floors of that building, partner Mike Howard said.

The partners formed an LLC, Howard said. He believes they've been in the building they're in now -- which also houses Montgomery Bank -- since the building was built.

Regions Bank building

Regions Bank will continue to occupy the first two floors, Howard said. He declined to divulge how much the building cost.

Currently, the third floor of the bank is empty, Howard said. The Johnson and Stark law firm is currently leasing the top floor, but its new building downtown is under construction on the riverfront.

"We can't move until Johnson and Stark move down to the river," Howard said. "We expect that to be next spring."

Then the firm will go in and remodel the floors they will occupy, he said. The firm probably won't take up residency until late summer or fall.

"It's a big deal for us," Howard said. "We're really excited about moving. We just thought it was a good opportunity for the firm to own our own building as opposed to leasing space. The building we're moving into is a landmark building for Cape."

Meanwhile, Mark Johnson of Johnson and Stark said they're still on target to have their new three-story building completed at the north lot of Broadway between Main and Water streets.

The frame of the building is up and work on a graphite-looking metal roof is expected to get started next week, Johnson said, though recent rain might slow that down.

So far, he's been most impressed by the view, which overlooks the Mississippi River.

"You cannot believe the view," Johnson said. "It's spectacular."

Johnson said he had an option to stay in the Regions Bank building for 10 years, but he waived that when the Limbaugh firm bought the building. In return, they extended a courtesy that said if his construction takes longer than expected, he can stay in his current spot a while longer.

Johnson's new building costs in excess of $1 million, he said, and is a French-Quarter-style office building. The building will also house Ward Title Co. on portions of the first floor, with the three lawyers -- Johnson, Gary Stark and John Schneider -- and their employees using the rest of the first floor and all of the second. Johnson said he still didn't know how the third floor would be used.

The law offices will include a wet bar, plasma-screen TV, leather couches, a library, conference rooms and reception and waiting areas.

Jim Limbaugh, regional president for Montgomery Bank, said they don't have any tenants lined up for the space that will be vacated by the Limbaugh firm. Montgomery Bank owns the building, he said.

Since the space won't be freed up until this time next year, Jim Limbaugh said they probably won't begin the process of finding a new tenant until after the first of the year.

He said several different types of businesses would be a good fit.

"We're looking for any interested party that would be compatible with the building and our banking institution," Jim Limbaugh said.

smoyers@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 137

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