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VOL. 122 | NO. 8 | Thursday, January 11, 2007

Daily Digest

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Crumpler Road Warehouse Sells for $8.9 Million

     A California-based company has bought a warehouse at 5025 Crumpler Road in phase three of Tuggle Planned Development for $8.9 million. Memphis Herb GP, which is affiliated with Sherman Oaks, Calif.-based Cardinal Industrial, bought about 16 acres on the west side of Crumpler Road north of Holmes Road from Industrial Development International (Tennessee) LP.
     The property contains a 147,600-square-foot warehouse built in 2006, according to the Shelby County Assessor of Property, which in 2006 appraised it at $1.4 million. Memphis Herb filed a $7.2 million loan through Countrywide Commercial Real Estate Finance Inc.
     Plans for the 19.65-acre Tuggle phase three were filed with the Shelby County Register of Deeds Office in May. The plans show the 129,800-square-foot phase one of Building K, a 113,400-square-foot future expansion to Building K, and a 49,600-square-foot future Building L.
     A lease memo filed at the same time as the Memphis Herb purchase and loan states the included land has about 7.02 acres of improved property - or property with a building on it - leased to Herbalife International of America Inc., along with 8.90 acres of unimproved land.

Forest Hill Owner Has Assets Frozen

     Shelby County Chancellor Arnold Goldin has issued an order prohibiting Forest Hill Funeral Home and Memorial Park East LLC, which operates three funeral homes and cemeteries in Memphis, from transferring any assets.
     The restraining order will remain in effect pending a hearing slated to take place before Goldin Jan. 23 at 10 a.m.
     State Attorney General Robert E. Cooper Jr. and Shelby County District Attorney William L. Gibbons filed a lawsuit Monday on behalf of the state and its Commissioner of Commerce and Insurance, Paula A. Flowers. Named as defendants in the complaint are Clayton Smart, Stephen W. Smith and two other funeral home companies owned by them.
     At issue in the lawsuit is whether Smart and Smith violated statutes regulating cemetery trust funds.
     "Forest Hill has, for many years, been in the business of selling pre-need funeral plans," the complaint says. In providing those services, the funeral home was supposed to establish a trust so it could satisfy its obligations under the pre-need contracts.
     Smart first came under public scrutiny when, after buying the funeral home in 2004, he refused to honor more than 13,000 existing pre-need contracts. A class-action lawsuit was filed on behalf of those clients in July.
     Smart has contended that he didn't have to honor the pre-need contracts because they were established before he became owner of Forest Hill. He bought the funeral home in 2004 from the bankrupt former owner.
     Also, according to the complaint, since Smart purchased the funeral home, the value of the assets in the Forest Hill trusts have declined from $29 million to $9 million.
     Gibbons also has asked the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) to conduct an investigation into possible criminal violations. That investigation is underway.
     "We are determined to do everything we reasonably can under state law to protect the members of the public who have contracted with Forest Hill Cemetery," Gibbons said in a statement.

Home/Condo Sales Down, Annual Sales Up

     By the end of December, there were 25,323 residential sales in Shelby County, up from 24,738 at the same time the previous year, according to the latest information from real estate information company Chandler Reports, www.chandlerreports.com.
     Also, at the end of the year, there was a slight increase in condominium sales with 1,474 condos sold compared to 1,122 at the end of 2005. The 2006 total represents a nearly 32 percent increase over the year before. At the end of 2006, there also was a 14 percent increase in average sales price for condos to $223,710.
     Less than 6 percent of the 1,474 condos were sold in December, with 84 sold that month, down from the 112 that sold during the same period the previous year.
     The area to see the greatest increase in sales was the 38139 ZIP code, which saw a 100 percent increase from two sales in December 2005 to four in December 2006. Yet the area that experienced the greatest total of condo sales in December was Downtown's 38103 ZIP code. There were 24 condo sales in the 38103 ZIP code with an average price tag of $233,831.
     On the other hand, the total number of residential sales in December decreased 10 percent from 1,895 in December 2005 to 1,701 in December 2006. Likewise, almost every area saw a decline in residential sales.
     A few areas throughout the city experienced no change in residential sales. Sales in the 38002 ZIP code, that encompasses Arlington and Lakeland, Greenlaw's 38105 ZIP code, which includes part of Uptown and the 38120 ZIP code in the area surrounding Shelby Farms, remained steady with the previous year's sales for those areas.
     And the 38133 ZIP code saw a 33 percent increase in residential sales with 48 homes sold in that area at an average sales price of $131,479.

McGriff Named New Chief Criminal Investigator

     Shelby County District Attorney Bill Gibbons has named David N. McGriff the new chief investigator to oversee the District Attorney's Office Criminal Investigation Division.
     McGriff will continue to serve as director of the West Tennessee Violent Crime and Drug Task Force, a post he has held since 2001.
     In addition to serving as director of the Drug Task Force, McGriff has spent 10 years assigned to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) West Tennessee Task Force.
     Edward R. Palmer Jr. has been named deputy director of the Drug Task Force. Prior to his appointment, Palmer served for 25 years at the Germantown Police Department. He retired in January as inspector over the uniform patrol division.
     Gibbons also announced the appointment of Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Morris to his team of prosecutors. She has been assigned to General Sessions Criminal Court. She is from West Memphis.

First Horizon Claims Decades-Long Honor

     First Horizon National Corp. once again has earned a spot on Fortune Magazine's list of the nation's "100 Best Companies to Work For." The Memphis-based company ranks No. 46.
     First Horizon is one of only 18 companies to make the list every year since its inception 10 years ago.
     This year, 446 companies vied for a slot on the list, up from 161 in 1998. The full list and related stories appear in the Jan. 22 issue of Fortune and at www.fortune.com.
     Other companies with a Memphis presence that appeared on the list include Medtronic, which is headquartered in Minneapolis, and Nike, which is headquartered in Beaverton, Ore.
     The list is compiled by Robert Levering and Milton Moskowitz of the Great Place to Work Institute in San Francisco.

Visiting Lecturer to Teach Course on Terrorism at U of M

     Elliot Chodoff, Middle East analyst and visiting lecturer at the University of Memphis, will teach a course at the university Jan. 16 to Mar. 2. Chodoff is considered to be a leading authority on conflict in the Middle East, and will teach a special course about terrorism.
     During the class, Chodoff will discuss "Israel, the Middle East and Terrorism." The class will meet Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. 
     Chodoff currently is the David Bornblum/Lemsky Visiting Scholar in Israel Studies. He has been a resident of Israel since 1983, and has served in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).
     Information about enrollment in the course is available from the U of M admissions office, and students age 60 or older may audit the course free.

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