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VOL. 122 | NO. 226 | Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Daily Digest

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Three Investors Buy East Memphis Office Building

     Saul M. Kaplan LLC has sold Ridge Lake Office Building, a 38,472-square-foot office building at 756 Ridge Lake Blvd., for $4.3 million.
     The buyers were 756 RL Group I LLC, which has a 78.4 percent interest in the property; 756 RL Private Investor I LLC, which has a 12.1 percent interest; and 756 RL Private Investor II LLC, which has a 9.4 percent interest.
     756 RL Group I LLC has an address in North Myrtle Beach, S.C. Douglas M. Clayton signed the mortgage deed as the manager of the company.
     Ridge Lake Office Building is a two-story medical office built in 1986. It sits on 2.11 acres at the northeast corner of Ridge Lake Boulevard and Ridge Bend Road. The Shelby County Assessor's 2007 appraisal of the property was $2 million.
     In conjunction with the sale, Saul M. Kaplan and M. Bene Kaplan quitclaimed the property at 756 Ridge Lake Blvd. to the three buyers. In another related transaction, the three buyers signed an agreement leasing the property to 756 RL Master Lessee LLC for 20 years, with two 10-year options to extend the lease.
     Representatives from the companies were unable to be reached by press time.

Roundtable to Discuss Transportation Issues

     State Senate Republican Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville, will join a panel of legislators and experts to discuss public transportation issues at a Tennessee Legislative Roundtable at 8:30 a.m. Thursday.
     The event is part of the 2007 Tennessee Public Transportation Association's (TPTA) annual conference. The statewide conference is hosted this year by the Memphis Area Transit Authority and will be held at the Memphis Downtown Marriott.
     A "Bus Roadeo" will follow the roundtable with participants from the panel of legislators, as well as members of the TPTA.
     Norris, a former chair of the Senate Transportation and Safety Committee, was named Legislator of the Year by the TPTA at its conference last November. Norris serves as one of a select group of transportation law experts on the National Academy of Public Administration's Intergovernmental Forum on Transportation Finance.
     Norris represents the West Tennessee counties of Shelby, Tipton, Lauderdale and Dyer.

Alexander to Bid For No. 3 Senate GOP Post

     Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said he will make a bid for the No. 3 post among Senate Republicans following Sen. Trent Lott's decision to resign.
     Lott, R-Miss., last year beat Alexander by one vote to become minority whip. Alexander said in a statement that he will support Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., to replace Lott and that he will seek to fill Kyl's position as conference chairman.
     "If Jon is elected, I will be a candidate to succeed him," Alexander said. "That is where I believe I can make the greatest contribution to the effectiveness of the Senate and our Republican conference."
     The whip, or assistant minority leader, is responsible for organizing Republican senators and monitoring how they plan to vote on legislation.
     Lott, 66, said he wants to spend more time with his family and to pursue other job opportunities, possibly teaching.
     Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky was elected minority leader after Tennessee Republican Bill Frist, who had served as majority leader, retired in January. Republicans lost control of the Senate in last year's general election.
     Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison is one
     potential opponent for the conference chairmanship. Hutchinson is currently chairwoman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, the No. 4 position in party leadership.
     Alexander, 67, is up for re-election next year. He first was elected to the Senate in 2002 and was previously a two-term governor, U.S. education secretary, a university president and a two-time presidential candidate.

Collierville Apartments Sell for $1.6 Million

     Woodyard Realty Corp. has sold the Courtyard Apartments in Collierville to an undisclosed local investor who plans to continue upgrading the apartments.
     The 40-unit apartment complex, near Collierville's Historic Town Square, sold for $1.6 million, according to Shelby County tax records.
     Woodyard Realty president Steve Woodyard said the buyer was attracted to the property's location in the fast-growing community of Collierville. All 40 apartments are about 950 square feet with two bedrooms and one bath.
     To date, Woodyard Realty has closed 34 apartment complexes, 57 bulk home sales and 157 bulk condo sales, with several more pending by year end.

Consumer Confidence Drops in November

     With Christmas only a month away, American consumers became more pessimistic about the economy in November, sending a widely watched barometer of confidence to the lowest level in two years.
     The New York-based Conference Board said Tuesday that its Consumer Confidence Index dropped to 87.3, down almost 8 points from the revised 95.2 in October. It was the lowest reading since 85.2 in October 2005, when gas and oil prices soared after hurricanes flooded New Orleans and shut down a large chunk of the nation's oil refineries. It also marked the sharpest drop since September 2005 when the index plummeted 18 points from the previous month. Analysts had expected a reading of 91.5 in November.
     The Present Situation Index, which measures how shoppers feel now about the economy, fell to 115.4 from 118 in October. The Expectations Index, which measures shoppers' outlook over the next six months, declined to 68.7 from 80.
     For retailers, the downbeat report on consumer confidence further fueled concern that the holiday shopping season will be weak. Retailers struggled with disappointing sales this past fall, and while many retailers were encouraged by better-than-expected sales for the official start of the holiday shopping season, it was the fat discounts that lured consumers in.
     The big worry is that shoppers will take their time returning to the stores this holiday season amid worries about higher gas prices, an escalating credit crisis and a slumping housing market.

Q3 Housing Prices Drop by Sharpest Rate

     U.S. home prices fell 4.5 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier, the sharpest drop since Standard & Poor's began its nationwide housing index in 1987 and another sign that the housing slump is far from over, the research group said Tuesday.
     One of the index's creators also predicted that there's a significant chance of a recession as the economy contends with falling housing prices, spiking foreclosures and turmoil in the financial markets.
     "Over 50 percent," said MacroMarkets LLC Chief Economist Robert Shiller, giving his odds for a recession.
     Other economists have put the chance of recession at one in three.
     "We're in the aftermath of the biggest housing boom in history, so how do we use historical data to judge the outcome?" he said. "We're out of the range of the normal variation in the data and I take that as very significant."
     The S&P/Case-Shiller quarterly index tracks prices of existing single-family homes across the nation compared with a year earlier.
     The index also showed that prices fell 1.7 percent from the previous three-month period, the largest quarter-to-quarter decline in the index's history.
     After 13 years of rising home values - with the greatest increases occurring in the first part of this decade - the housing market has started to unravel, spreading from Main Street to Wall Street.
     Declines in housing prices have kept homeowners, especially those with riskier mortgages and spotty credit, from refinancing, sending them into default and foreclosure at a quickening pace. More foreclosed properties have added to an already ballooning inventory of homes on the market, further depressing values.
     Investors holding securities backed by mortgages have taken billions of dollars in losses as they rewrite the value of defaulting assets. Spooked, they have stopped funding mortgages, hurting lenders' ability to issue new loans and shrinking demand.

Grace-St. Luke's Receives Dual Accreditation

     Grace-St. Luke's Episcopal School has received dual accreditation from the Southern Association of Independent Schools (SAIS) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
     To earn accreditation from SAIS and SACS, Grace-St. Luke's complied with quality standards, was evaluated by an outside group of peer professionals, and implemented a school plan focused on strategic improvement and student performance. Accreditation is voluntary and must be renewed each year.

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