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VOL. 127 | NO. 200 | Friday, October 12, 2012

Daily Digest

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Wolf River Medical Building Sells for $11 Million

HRT of Tennessee Inc., an affiliate of Nashville-based Healthcare Realty Trust Inc., has paid slightly less than $11 million for the medical office building at 8040 Wolf River Blvd. in Germantown.

The company bought the 40,592-square-foot building Oct. 9 in a special warranty deed from Charlotte-based Bayrock Investment Co. LLC, which acquired the property in 2008 for $2.3 million.

Built in 2007, the Class A medical office facility sits on 2.94 acres on the north side of Wolf River Boulevard where it turns into Kimbrough Road. The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2012 appraisal is $7 million.

The property is home to Memphis Orthopaedic Group.

The transaction also included a 0.2-acre parcel of land that fronts Wolf River Boulevard. No financing was associated with the transaction.

Healthcare Realty, a real estate investment trust founded in 1993, “provides on-site leasing and property management services to 10.3 million square feet” in its portfolio, according to the company’s website.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports

– Daily News staff

Tennessee Banks Increase Small Business Lending

Tennessee banks receiving capital through the Small Business Lending Fund have increased their small business lending by $275.1 million over their baselines, according to the U.S. Department of Treasury in a new report.

The SBLF, established as part of the Small Business Jobs Act that President Barack Obama signed into law in 2010, encourages community banks to increase their lending to small businesses. Through the fund, the Treasury Department invested more than $4 billion in 332 institutions that operate in more than 3,000 locations across 48 states.

The fund provides capital to community banks with less than $10 billion in assets – a threshold that most Memphis-area banks fall under.

– Andy Meek

Six Groups Back Countywide Sales Tax Hike

A coalition of six political and nonprofit groups has come out in support of the countywide sales tax increase on the Nov. 6 ballot.

The groups who announced their support are the Shelby County Democratic Party, Stand for Children, Mid-South Peace and Justice Center, Latino Memphis, Our Kids Our Future, and Fight Crime, Invest in Kids.

Local Democratic Party chairman Van Turner said a vote against the sales tax hike is “a vote to raise property taxes.”

Other leaders of the coalition emphasized the plan to use half of the revenue generated by the extra half-cent, $30.3 million, to expand pre-kindergarten programs to every child in Shelby County. By state law, half of the revenue from a countywide sales tax increase must go to education.

That part of the estimated $60.6 million in revenue from the extra half cent would be part of the funding for pre-k access across Shelby County. The other part of the money would come from nonprofit groups. When Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. and Memphis City Council member Shea Flinn changed their opposition to the tax hike and announced their support earlier this month, it was on the condition that the private support would also be coming.

Leaders of the drive for the sales tax say they have been talking with private individuals about the rest of the funding. But they have not yet revealed who would put up the rest of the funding.

The ballot question will be decided by voters in Memphis and the unincorporated county. Voters in the six suburban towns and cities in Shelby County do not vote on the question because they voted in August to raise their city sales tax rates to support municipal school districts. The half-cent countywide sales tax hike would not be in addition to the suburban sales tax hikes.

If the countywide sales tax hike is approved, it trumps those earlier decisions. It would mean less sales tax revenue for the cities of Bartlett, Germantown, Collierville and Millington. But it would mean more sales tax revenue for Arlington and Lakeland.

– Bill Dries

Memphis Habitat to Focus on Uptown Next Two Years

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis has selected Uptown as its neighborhood of choice for 2013 and 2014, with plans to build 50 homes and rehabilitate 100 properties in the area.

The Uptown project is the first of its kind for Memphis Habitat – a project where the nonprofit affiliate builds homes and does repairs on existing properties in a defined neighborhood. Habitat has completed 20 rehabs to date in Uptown.

The project is funded in part by the Memphis and Shelby County Community Redevelopment Agency, which last week approved an allocation of $1.68 million and a donation of 50 lots to support the two-year home-building and rehabilitation project. These funds are generated by tax increment funding.

To complete the project, Habitat must raise nearly $3 million in additional funds from local foundations and house-building partners, such as companies, faith-based organizations and schools. In an effort to retain local jobs, some homes in Uptown will be built via Habitat’s traditional model with house-building partners and volunteers, and others will be built with subcontractors.

– Sarah Baker

US Foreclosure Filings Hit 5-Year Low in September

U.S. foreclosure filings dropped to a five-year low in September as fewer homes were on track to be seized by lenders.

It was the second-consecutive monthly decline in filings, although there remains a sharp divergence along state lines, according to a report Thursday by foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc.

On a national level, overall foreclosure filings last month – including home repossessions – fell 7 percent from August and 16 percent from September 2011. There were 180,427 foreclosure filings reported for September, the fewest since July 2007 in the midst of the housing market bust.

The number of homes entering the foreclosure process, so-called foreclosure starts, fell to 87,066 in September, down 12 percent from August and 15 percent from a year earlier. It was the second-straight month of declines following three months of increases, Irvine, Calif.-based RealtyTrac reported.

Foreclosure starts since peaked in April 2009 at around 203,000. But the current level is still well above the 34,000 starts recorded in May 2005, before the collapse of the housing market.

Overall foreclosure filings include notices of defaults on mortgages, scheduled auctions and repossessions. Foreclosure starts are either default notices or scheduled auctions.

The pace of homes entering the foreclosure process is expected to slow gradually, barring another severe economic shock that would send the recovering housing market into a tailspin, experts say. But the decline in foreclosures is likely to continue playing out unevenly, in part because of the differing approaches to handling foreclosures from state to state.

Meanwhile, there were 53,569 completed foreclosures last month. That’s up 2 percent from August but down 18 percent from September 2011.

– The Associated Press

US Jobless Claims Fall to Lowest Level in 4.5 Years

The number of Americans seeking unemployment aid plummeted last week to seasonally adjusted 339,000, the lowest level in more than four years. The sharp drop, if sustained, could signal a stronger job market.

The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications fell by 30,000 to the fewest since February 2008.

The positive figures follow a report last week that said the unemployment rate fell in September to 7.8 percent. It was the first time since January 2009 that the rate dropped below 8 percent.

A Labor Department spokesman cautioned that the weekly unemployment aid applications can be volatile, particularly at the start of a quarter. And the spokesman said one large state accounted for much of the decline. The spokesman did not name the state.

Unemployment benefit applications are a proxy for layoffs. When they consistently drop below 375,000, it suggests that hiring is strong enough to lower the unemployment rate.

– The Associated Press

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RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 110 154 13,810
MORTGAGES 135 193 18,019
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 1 29 3,534
BUILDING PERMITS 430 430 32,733
BANKRUPTCIES 52 130 13,133
BUSINESS LICENSES 20 45 4,750
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 83 204 20,104
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 33 4,230

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