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VOL. 122 | NO. 152 | Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Daily Digest

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Bryan Co. Files $58M Loan For Horizon Condominiums

     The Bryan Co. has filed a $58.6 million loan for construction of The Horizon condominiums at 717 Riverside Drive, and last week began work on the first of two 16-story towers on the Downtown skyline.
     The company, working under the name Riverside Bluffs LLC, filed the loan Thursday through Capital One NA.
     The Bryan Co. expects the first building to take 18 to 24 months to build, said Lisa Ballard, sales consultant in Horizon's Downtown sales center. The tower will have 155 one-, two- and three-bedroom units ranging from 1,166 to 1,926 square feet. Sixty-five of the units have been pre-sold, and prices range from $400,000 to $700,000, she said.
     The project, which is on about six acres at the northwest corner of Channel 3 and Riverside drives, eventually will have 350 residences: 155 and 141 in the first and second towers, respectively, along with 54 terrace condos.
     As for the two towers, Ballard said every unit will have river views, with those above the fourth floor having unobstructed views. Amenities will include a private movie theater, indoor/outdoor pool, cybercafé and a 24-hour fitness center, among other things.
     "One of the most important things - or one of the things I'm going to be excited about - is there's going to be a rooftop patio with a Viking outdoor kitchen, so it's really quite an amazing building," she added. "I've sold a lot of condominiums over the years here in the Memphis area, and this is by far the most exciting I've ever been a part of."
     The 54 terrace homes, which Ballard said will be built in the last phase or as part of the second phase, will wrap the building's 600-plus-space parking garage. Terrace units will be smaller and won't have river views, she said.
     The Bryan Co. bought the land for The Horizon in April 2005 for $6.7 million. Plans filed with the Shelby County Register of Deeds in May show the nearly six-acre site as having a putting green and a lake with a fountain.
     Ballard said she expects the first tower to be completely pre-sold by the time construction wraps - and The Bryan Co. is offering prospective buyers a chance to see what the completed units will look like.
     "We do have a sales office with a fully furnished model on site, so even though we are under construction, we do have something to see here," she said.
     The million-dollar sales center is on site at the corner of Channel 3 and Riverside drives.

Central Parking Corp. Sells European Operations

     Central Parking Corp., a Nashville-based company, announced Friday it has completed the sale of its European operations to the APCOA Group.
     The sale includes Central's operations in the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Spain and Switzerland. The company's operations in Poland already had been sold to APCOA.
     The company did not disclose the financial terms of the transaction.
     Central Parking has 46 lots in Memphis, said Jim Bond, executive vice president of strategic initiatives and president of international operations.
     Prior to completing the sale, the APCOA Group had operations in 13 countries throughout Europe. The group manages more than 3,500 car parks with about 760,000 parking spaces, and employs approximately 2,800 employees. In addition, APCOA manages town center car parks as well as shopping center, airport and hospital parking.
     Central Parking is a leading provider of parking and transportation services internationally. The company operates about 3,000 facilities with approximately 1.4 million parking spaces, and has locations in 37 states, Washington, Canada, Puerto Rico, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Spain, Switzerland and Greece.
     Emanual J. Eads, president and chief executive officer of Central Parking, said in a statement the sale came at a prime time for the company.
     "Despite having a presence in the United Kingdom since 1991, our European operations accounted for less than 3 percent of company revenues last year," he said. "Given our relatively low market share in these countries ... we viewed this as an opportune time to sell these operations."

Highland Area Renewal Corp. Launches Two Initiatives

     The Highland Area Renewal Corp. (HARC) will announce the launch of two major initiatives today.
     HARC plans to begin an Emergency Aid Fund for Families with elementary-aged students in after-school programs. Also, an initiative is being planned to hear and document the history of the area through NOAH (Neighborhood Older Adult Histories).
     The initiatives will be announced at 5:15 p.m. at St. Luke's United Methodist Church, 480 S. Highland St.

Northwest CEO Acknowledges Mistakes

     Northwest Airlines Corp. ended May by emerging from bankruptcy. Then it ended June and July by canceling hundreds of flights.
     In an effort to avoid the same problems this month, chief executive Doug Steenland trimmed the August schedule by 4 percent and made a deal with pilots aimed at reducing how long they're away from home for each trip. Pilots had complained about fatigue under the new schedule Northwest pressured them to accept in bankruptcy court.
     Steenland also acknowledged that the airline didn't take into account the human toll of the new work rules its employees were working under this summer. While there was no sign of trouble during slow winter months, the busy summer showed the weak spots in Northwest's system, which includes a hub in Memphis.
     "Growing the airline might have been the revenue-maximizing thing to do, but that's not always the right business decision," Steenland said. "So I think we would have been more conservative."
     If they had it to do over again, he said, "we would have introduced and implemented the work rules in a different way, and been more mindful of the human consequences that the introduction of those work rules was going to impose."
     Last week Northwest made a deal with pilots that will reduce their flying hours a little. It's recalling furloughed pilots and plans to hire 250 to 350 pilots in the next year. It's also going to pay bonuses of up to $1,000 for perfect attendance through Labor Day.
     Will that be enough to keep the airline running at the end of August?
     "I'm optimistic," Steenland said.
     How about its prospects beyond August? Continental Airlines and US Airways both made two trips through bankruptcy court. Steenland is determined to avoid that at Northwest. That was a factor in Northwest's hard-nosed demands for $1.4 billion in labor savings. Its refusal to move from its savings target helped precipitate the mechanics' strike in August 2005, a month before it filed for Chapter 11 protection.
     "We don't want oil to be at $80 a barrel, but when it gets there you don't want to be in a position to have to be fearful that the business might come undone," he said.
     The airline's lower debt and labor costs should allow it to overcome hurdles like rising oil prices and, potentially, a business cycle on the downslope.
     "If we had done a much smaller job on the cost side, I think the risk is we might be back in the soup again," he said.
     Northwest is buying Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner next year. Steenland said it has locked in financing through Boeing if necessary, unless it can get better terms for its loan on the open market. "The delivery of that aircraft is secure," he said.
     Northwest cut its debt by $4.2 billion in bankruptcy, and, besides borrowing for new planes, doesn't expect to need any new loans soon.
     "Other than Southwest, we have the best balance sheet out there. We have the highest credit rating of any network carrier," Steenland said. "And that reflects the work that was done in restructuring."
PROPERTY SALES 0 277 20,909
MORTGAGES 0 329 24,074
BANKRUPTCIES 0 238 13,418