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VOL. 123 | NO. 228 | Thursday, November 20, 2008

Daily Digest

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Memphis Air Trans LP Buys Warehouse for $8.4M

Memphis Air Trans LP has bought a 342,860-square-foot, one-story warehouse at 4219 Air Trans Road for $8.4 million. The seller was TC Air-T Industrial LLC, which acquired the property in January 2007 for $5.8 million. Memphis Air Trans financed the purchase with a $6.7 million loan through Union Bank of California NA.

Robert Smietana, a member of the board of managers for Memphis Air Trans GP LLC (sole general partner for Memphis Air Trans LP), signed the trust deed.

Smietana is vice chairman and chief executive officer of Chicago-based HSA Commercial Real Estate. The company has beefed up its Memphis portfolio in the past two years by buying a variety of industrial space totaling more than 2.6 million square feet.

A call to HSA’s media relations department for comment was not immediately returned.

This recent acquisition is a warehouse that was built in 1977 and sits on 12.75 acres on the west side of Air Trans Road southwest of Pidgeon Roost Road. It’s just south of the East Raines Road and Lamar Avenue intersection. The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2008 appraisal is $5.5 million.

The property was previously home to a Quebecor World Logistics consolidation facility. That company relocated last summer.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports


MLGW Board Critical of TVA CEO Raise

The Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division board of directors is scheduled to discuss a resolution at today’s meeting that criticizes the recent pay package increase by the Tennessee Valley Authority board of directors for its CEO, Tom Kilgore.

The TVA board in October approved boosting Kilgore’s compensation from $2.7 million to $3.27 million. The MLGW resolution finds that action “imprudent ... regarding the magnitude and timing of the increase” and requests that the decision be reconsidered.

The MLGW board meeting will begin today at 1:30 p.m. at the MLGW Administration Building, 220 S. Main St.


US Home Construction Sinks to New Record

Construction of new homes plunged last month to the lowest level on records going back nearly 50 years as U.S. builders slashed production while Wall Street nosedived.

Embattled homebuilders, who enjoyed a five-year boom, are now building new homes and apartments at a record-low pace, according to government data released Wednesday. New building permits, a barometer of future activity, also plummeted to the lowest pace on record.

With construction dropping, the number of unsold homes should fall quickly in the coming months, wrote Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics. “But right now housing is a disaster area,” he said.

The Commerce Department reported that construction of new homes and apartments fell 4.5 percent in October, the fourth straight monthly decline. Construction sank to an annual rate of 791,000 units from an upwardly revised September rate of 828,000 units.

The results were the lowest on government records dating back to January 1959. Previously, the slowest pace had been in January 1991, when the country was in recession and going through a similar housing correction. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had expected construction to fall even further to a rate of 780,000 units.

Wachovia Corp. economist Adam York forecasts that construction will fall to around 650,000 units by next summer. While that’s going to be painful for the nation’s homebuilders, it will help stabilize the overall U.S. housing market, he said.

“The broader housing market needs fewer homes,” York said in an interview. “We built too many homes in the United States and building less is one way to work off the excess inventory.”

Applications for building permits, considered a good sign of future activity, fell by 12 percent in October to an annual rate of 708,000 units, the weakest on records dating to early 1960. New permits for single-family houses fell 14.5 percent to 460,000, the lowest level since February 1982.

That decline was surprisingly large, wrote Global Insight economist Patrick Newport, adding that builders “will take a big hit from the financial problems that erupted in September,” when the government seized control of mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and extended a financial lifeline to insurance company American International Group Inc.


Bredesen: Time for Break on Business Incentives

Tennessee will suspend efforts to attract more large business projects if it lands one or two more deals on the scale of the $1 billion Volkswagen plant being built in Chattanooga, Gov. Phil Bredesen said Wednesday.

The Democratic governor declined to name other companies being wooed by the state other than to say they involve “serious commitments of money” and that the offers will stand despite a budget shortfall that continues to grow amid the nation’s economic crunch.

“If we can bring those home it will have been a wonderful year, and I think time to start absorbing and paying for what we’ve been able to do and get the jobs on line,” Bredesen told reporters.

“The smart thing to do is honor the commitments we have outstanding, but probably take a little stutter step after that,” he said, commenting after a budget hearing for the state Department of Economic and Community Development.

The governor said he expects the total amount of incentives to VW suppliers to rival the $577 million package given to the German automaker to build the assembly plant in Tennessee. The plant is expected to begin production in 2011.

Volkswagen’s plans for the plant at the site of a former Army ammunition plant are also expected to create 2,000 jobs in Chattanooga. That has left many rejoicing in Tennessee over a coming boon after years of missing out on new auto plants, and the loss of other manufacturing jobs.

Much of Tennessee’s incentives package comes in the form of tax credits over a 20-year period, but it can also involve infrastructure and capital projects paid for by the state.

Lawmakers in May agreed to set aside $100 million in anticipation of a VW deal even while cutting nearly a half-billion dollars out of the budget because of a worsening economic outlook. A state budget shortfall is expected to grow to $800 million by June despite the earlier cuts.

Bredesen won’t give an estimate of what two other major projects sought by authorities would cost the state.


Gov’t Expands Rules for Mortgage Help Program

A top Bush administration official said the government will let more borrowers qualify for a new $300 billion program that lets troubled homeowners swap risky loans for more affordable ones.

Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Steve Preston said Wednesday the changes aim to expand participation in the new “Hope for Homeowners” program, launched Oct. 1.

The new rules enable lenders to take a smaller loss because new loans can be made for 96.5 percent of the home’s value, rather than the current level of 90 percent.

Also, lenders will be allowed to create new 40-year mortgages, rather than the traditional 30-year term, which will lower borrowers’ monthly payments but cost them more in interest over the life of the loan.


U of M Education College Receives Accreditation

The College of Education at the University of Memphis has received accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.

The college and its programs for teacher education met the standards set forth by the professional education community and will be considered accredited until 2015, when it will be up for review again.

The NCATE is recognized by the United States Department of Education as the accrediting agency for 623 institutions, which produce two-thirds of the nation’s new teacher graduates each year.


Walgreens Helps With Medicare Choices

Pharmacists at Walgreens are offering a free personalized report that makes it easier for Medicare Part D recipients and their caregivers to make enrollment decisions for prescription plans.

Pharmacists will enter a list of a patient’s medications and generate a printout detailing each plan’s estimated annual costs, including monthly premiums, brand and generic co-pays and coverage through the coverage gap or “donut hole.”

The enrollment period ends Dec. 31.


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RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 74 312 15,378
MORTGAGES 125 389 20,168
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 23 109 3,995
BUILDING PERMITS 431 872 36,714
BANKRUPTCIES 54 232 14,575
BUSINESS LICENSES 9 64 5,193
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 71 312 22,129
MARRIAGE LICENSES 10 83 4,746

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