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VOL. 110 | NO. 63 | Friday, March 29, 1996

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3/29 jts CCC awards Center City Commission honors Downtown developers By JAMES SNYDER The Daily News Bill Day, who restored his familys heirloom Hunt-Phelan Home, won special honors as the Unsung Hero of Downtown during the Center City Commissions annual awards banquet Thursday afternoon. The awards marked a year that saw AutoZones relocation of its corporate headquarters to Downtown, groundbreaking for the Tower at Peabody Place and the rejuvenation of the Gayoso House. The commission designed the awards to honor leaders in Downtown redevelopment as well as to showcase advances made during the last year, interim director Ann Dillard said. The commission, which directs Downtown redevelopment, marked its 18th year in 1995. The 30 private projects and $636 million in investment Downtown last year brought development totals to almost $2 billion since 1977, according to Michael Lewis, chairman of the Center City Finance Corp., which provides tax incentives and loans to encourage development. Downtown showed strong residential and commercial growth, according to the commissions annual report. Residential units grew by 16 percent. Beale Street merchants posted 14 percent sales growth. The Pyramid showed its first profit since it opened in 1991. Saying Downtown has become the common ground for residents of the city and county, Shelby County Mayor Jim Rout said, "Downtown is really everyones neighborhood and should be everyones neighborhood." The Downtown Memphis Awards were offered in 11 categories. The Kiwanis Club of Memphis won in the animation category for its Downtown Christmas Parade. B. B. Kings Birthday Bash at the Orpheum Theater took the award in events. In the arts, the Flame of Life Sculpture took honors for adorning the courtyard of the Gayoso House apartments. The Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau received recognition in journalism and media for its Visitors Guide and Quick Reference Guide. The Peabody Hotels Sunset Serenades won for hospitality and entertainment. Tom Lee Park, expanded to five times its original size, took urban design and environment honors for the citys Division of Public Works. For housing and neighborhood development, the newly rejuvenated Exchange Building, which had been vacant for 13 years, brought honors to Florida-based J. Gordon Hollingsworth of Landmark America. The Exchange Building is the first development to bring moderate-income housing to Downtown. There were a few surprises. AutoZone won special recognition for moving its headquarters to the waterfront, giving a sleek new look to the Memphis skyline. And Jack Belz and John Dudas both won for leadership, but while they work together at Belz Enterprises, they were apparently unaware that they had both nominated each other for the award. "I had no idea he had nominated me, and he had no idea I had nominated him," Belz said as he accepted the award. Coordinators of the banquet also had the opportunity to introduce the new commission president, Ed Armentrout. He replaces Ann Dillard, who served as interim director for 18 months. Armentrout has participated in the redevelopment of Atlanta and Columbus and Dayton, Ohio. "Im very pleased to welcome (Armentrout) to our home and into this position," Memphis Mayor W.W. Herenton said. "He comes to the city with the knowledge and experience to turn an average downtown into a thriving downtown."

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