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VOL. 128 | NO. 229 | Friday, November 22, 2013

Daily Digest

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Embassy Suites Memphis Sells for $24.8 Million

An affiliate of Chicago-based hotel asset manager Lodging Capital Partners LLC has paid $24.8 million for the Embassy Suites Memphis hotel at 1022 S. Shady Grove Road in East Memphis.

The affiliate, 1022 South Shady Grove LLC, bought the 220-room hotel in a Nov. 13 special warranty deed from 1022 Shady Grove LLC, an affiliate of Potomac, Md.-based Haberhill LLC.

That company had acquired the hotel in 2007 for $18.9 million from Embassy Equity Development Corp.

Built in 1989, the 173,019-square-foot hotel sits on almost 4 acres along the east side of South Shady Grove Road north of its intersection with Poplar Avenue. The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2013 appraisal is $18.7 million.

The hotel is home to Frank Grisanti restaurant, and the facility also features an open-air atrium with a koi pond and waterfall.

In conjunction with the purchase, 1022 South Shady Grove LLC filed a deed of trust, fixture filing, assignment of rents and security agreement through Great American Life Insurance Co. Lodging Capital Partners principal and general counsel Bradley Folk signed the trust deed on behalf of the borrower.

The deal marked Lodging Capital Partners’ first Tennessee acquisition, according to its website. Current hotels in the company’s portfolio include The Drake Hotel in Chicago and properties in California, Texas, Oregon, Michigan and Hawaii.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports
– Daily News staff

Shelby County Schools Sued Over School Access

A man who has organized anti-abortion demonstrations in Memphis since the 1970s marking the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 ruling making abortion legal is suing Shelby County Schools in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee over the school system’s refusal to allow him to use White Station High School.

Kent Pruett filed the suit Wednesday, Nov. 20, in Memphis federal court, with legal representation from the Center for Religious Expression.

Pruett has organized past Roe v. Wade marches and speeches that included stops at Central High School over the years. Pruett moved the march and rally to a private facility in Bartlett in 2011 and 2012.

He was denied use of White Station High School this year and applied to use the school again on Jan. 19, 2014, and was again denied.

Schools officials cited their policy denying such access to school facilities for “staging and/or disbanding of any protest march, demonstration, or like activity aimed or directed toward any segment of the community.”

Pruett wants the policy declared unconstitutional by the court and voided. He is also seeking preliminary and permanent injunctions that would allow him to use a public school in connection with the annual march.

Pruett’s legal claim is that the Shelby County Schools policy violates constitutional guarantees of the right to free speech and expression as well as freedom of assembly.

– Bill Dries

County Commission to Vote on Schools Friday

Shelby County Commissioners meet Friday, Nov. 22, at 1 p.m. to vote on the agreement for school buildings in the forming Arlington and Lakeland municipal school districts.

The commission was scheduled to meet Thursday but commissioners set a Friday back-up date in case they got the contracts and other documents later than expected. They did get them later than expected after Monday’s regularly scheduled commission meeting.

That’s where the first public word of a tentative agreement surfaced publicly.

Meanwhile, Arlington aldermen voted Wednesday, Nov. 20, to authorize Arlington Mayor Mike Wissman to sign the deal for Arlington schools.

Shelby County Schools board members approved the agreements with Lakeland and Arlington at a special meeting Tuesday.

The agreement also includes a provision that would drop Arlington and Lakeland from the pending federal lawsuit third-party claim filed by the County Commission that contests the creation of the suburban school districts.

– Bill Dries

Hollywood Feed Adding Stores in Alabama, Texas

Memphis-based Hollywood Feed is growing.

The pet business plans to open its third and fourth Alabama locations by year-end. The two new stores in Huntsville – one of which will open this month, the other in December – will complement the retailer’s two existing Alabama stores in Birmingham.

Hollywood Feed also plans to expand into Texas in 2014. And the retailer recently completed a 60-second television spot focused on its custom line of dog beds.

Hollywood Feed offers a selection of natural and holistic pet foods and products, professional pet grooming, training classes and washing stations for use by dog owners.

– Andy Meek

Average Mortgage Rate Drops to 4.22 Percent

Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages declined this week after two weeks of increases, keeping home-buying affordable.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on the 30-year loan fell to 4.22 percent from to 4.35 percent last week. The average on the 15-year fixed mortgage dipped to 3.27 percent from 3.35 percent.

Rates had spiked over the summer and reached a two-year high in July on speculation that the Federal Reserve would slow its bond purchases later this year. But the Fed held off in September and now appears poised to wait at least a few more months to see how the economy performs. The bond purchases are intended to keep long-term interest rates low.

Mortgage rates tend to follow the yield on the 10-year Treasury note. They have stabilized since September and remain low by historical standards.

Still, mortgage rates are nearly a full percentage point higher than in the spring. The uptick has contributed to a slowdown in home sales. The National Association of Realtors said sales of existing homes fell 3.2 percent in October, the second straight monthly decline.

– The Associated Press

Unemployment Benefit Applications Decline

The number of people applying for U.S. unemployment benefits fell 21,000 to a seasonally adjusted 323,000 last week, the lowest since late September and further evidence of an improving job market.

The Labor Department said Thursday that the less volatile four-week average fell for the third straight week to 338,500. Both figures are near pre-recession levels.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs. They had spiked in early October because of the partial government shutdown and processing backlogs in California. But first-time applications have now fallen in five of the past six weeks. The decline indicates that employers are laying off fewer workers.

"If claims can remain at this week's level it would be easier to believe in the idea that ... payroll growth could break out to the upside," said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

Some economists warned that last week's Veterans' Day holiday may have exaggerated last week's decline because many state government offices were closed on Nov. 11.

But the broader trend has been downward. The steady declines suggest hiring will remain healthy in the coming months. Employers added 204,000 jobs in October, shrugging off the 16-day shutdown.

Job growth accelerated over the summer. Employers added an average of 202,000 jobs per month from August through October. That's up sharply from an average of 146,000 in May through July.

The solid gains should help boost economic growth next year. Greater hiring, combined with modest increases in pay, appears to be supporting more spending. Higher retail spending last month has raised hopes that the holiday shopping season will be better than many analysts expected.

Still, the economy is far from healthy. More than four years after the recession officially ended, the unemployment rate remains high at 7.3 percent.

And nearly 3.9 million people received benefits during the week ended Nov. 2, the latest data available. That's down about 33,000 from the previous week. That total has fallen 26 percent in the past year.

– The Associated Press

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RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 70 224 13,880
MORTGAGES 105 298 18,124
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 0 39 3,544
BUILDING PERMITS 0 430 32,733
BANKRUPTCIES 75 205 13,208
BUSINESS LICENSES 23 68 4,773
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 103 307 20,206
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 33 4,230

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