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VOL. 122 | NO. 46 | Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Daily Digest

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Save Libertyland!'s Parkinson Announces City Council Run

     For Denise Parkinson, it could have been frustration over her visit last weekend, children in tow, to Peabody Park, where she came face to face with hypodermic needles and gang-related graffiti.
     It could have been the apathy with which political figures last year greeted Save Libertyland!, the maverick group of Libertyland supporters Parkinson created to preserve Memphis' storied amusement park. And it could have been the label she was tagged with in a recent Commercial Appeal editorial about her efforts - "stay-at-home mom" - which she read as a veiled put-down, a reminder to know her place.
     But the thing that finally made Parkinson become the unlikeliest of contenders for elected office was watching Memphis City Council member Carol Chumney last month announce her candidacy for city mayor.
     That race pits Chumney against Willie Herenton, widely regarded as a powerful incumbent. Herenton has served four terms in office since 1991.
     Parkinson, who formally will announce her intention on Sunday to run for Chumney's council seat, viewed that mayoral announcement in the classic, "If she can fight the odds, maybe I can, too," mindset.
     "And I'm hoping other people in Memphis run, so we can just get a whole new crop in office," said Parkinson, a mother of three and soon-to-be contender for the District 5 seat on the city council.
Let the games begin
On Sunday, Parkinson will kick off her grassroots campaign with an announcement at 4 p.m. at Quetzal, the café at 664 Union Ave. In an immediate way, her entry into the race for a city council seat signifies the beginning of a campaign she intends to make sure is dominated by issues such as park preservation and fiscal management.
     Over the past year and a half, for example, her activism has helped preserve Libertyland's vintage, hand-carved carousel, which Mid-South Fair officials want to see moved to another site where it can operate. Parkinson's small band of like-minded activists also posted videos to the Internet about their cause, sponsored concerts and other events, created a Web site and managed to attract attention for their efforts from as far away as England.
     Several months ago, Parkinson was interviewed by the London Daily Express newspaper. And last August, a story in The Washington Post summed up the fight Parkinson and others had waged.
     "The padlocking of Libertyland angered some Memphians, who fought to keep the park open and get the Zippin Pippin (roller coaster) and the historic carousel off the auction block," the story read. "In the end, the city claimed the carousel, and two Nashville collectors with a traveling museum bought the coaster in June."
Shooting to win
Meanwhile, something else Parkinson and her group have been racing to finish is a documentary that chronicles the last days of Libertyland, a film that's still in the works. That project has become such a permanent part of her everyday routine that Parkinson's 2-year-old son, Casey, has been known to beam and ask his mother about "shooting footage."
     "She's a people's candidate," said Mike McCarthy, the local filmmaker who's behind the documentary about Libertyland.
     Like Parkinson, he's been a fixture anywhere Libertyland was talked about or where decisions about it were voted on during the past year.
     McCarthy will, however, be out of town for his friend's big announcement. The reason is because McCarthy is scheduled to be in Los Angeles working with another Memphis film director - Craig Brewer - on a script on which both men are collaborating.
     "People want things to happen, and politicians prevent them from happening," McCarthy said. "Denise can make things happen."
Can't beat 'em? Join 'em
And when it comes to applying a little elbow grease, there's probably no issue under the sun that motivates Parkinson quite like the state of green spaces in Memphis.
     The champion of what ultimately was a lost cause - Libertyland's former space on the 170-acre fairgrounds is not part of a new master plan being debated by the city's powerful - she's now decided the only way to continue her fight is to win a seat on the council.
     But just because Parkinson has decided to play the political game, McCarthy said, doesn't necessarily mean she'll adhere to every - or any - established rule.
     "She's definitely not one to watch her French," he said.
     Case in point - the reason she's running in the first place.
     "If you bring in a $5 million deal and no one returns your calls, what does that say about Memphis?" Parkinson said, referring to interest in Libertyland from an out-of-town development group that Save Libertyland! encouraged.
     "What we need to do is just clean house, and who better than a professional mother? I've got a broom, and I'm not afraid to use it."

Fountainbleau Affiliates Acquire Three Apartment Complexes

     Limited liability companies affiliated with New Orleans-based Fountainbleau Management Services LLC have acquired Lantern Square, Dogwood Trace and Red Oaks apartments in Memphis, adding more than 500 units to the company's portfolio.
     Heavon Co. LLC, Eastern Management & Financial LLC and DA Realty Holdings LLC bought the 226-unit Lantern Square Apartments at 3737 Stage-James Road for $4.6 million. Those companies conveyed, or quitclaimed, the complex to Lantern Square Apartments LLC, a limited liability company of which all three are member organizations. Lantern Square Apartments LLC then financed the purchase through North Houston Bank for $5.7 million.
     The complex, which was built in 1976, sits on 11.66 acres on the southwest corner of Stage-James and Epping Way roads. The Shelby County Assessor's 2006 appraisal was $5.3 million.
     Heavon, Eastern Management & Financial and DA Realty Holdings bought the 167-unit Dogwood Trace Apartments at 4505 Wooddale Road from Perkins Woods LP for $4.3 million. The three companies quitclaimed the complex to Dogwood Trace Apartments LLC, which financed it through North Houston Bank for $4.3 million.
     Built in 1972 and formerly known as Perkins Woods, Dogwood Trace sits on 9.54 acres north of Winchester Road between Knight and South Perkins roads. The Shelby County Assessor's 2006 appraisal was $2.4 million.
     Red Oaks Apartments LLC bought the 155-unit Red Oaks Apartments complex at 2162 Wilson Road from Red Oaks Associates LP for $3.1 million, financing it with a $4.2 million loan through North Houston Bank. Built in 1975, Red Oaks is on 9.55 acres on the north side of Wilson Road west of Airways Boulevard. The Shelby County Assessor's 2006 appraisal was $2.7 million.
     The limited liability companies Lantern Square Apartments LLC, Dogwood Trace Apartments LLC and Red Oaks Apartments LLC share the New Orleans address that's home to Fountainbleau Management Services. No one from Fountainbleau was available for comment.
     Fountainbleau owns two other Memphis properties: Ascension Towers at 3910 Stuart Road and Stonehenge Park at 4280 Mount Hood St., according to the company's Web site. The company also owns properties in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, according to the site.

Nissan North America Shakes Up Management

     Nissan North America Inc. (NNA) recently has shuffled its sales and marketing department in what the company announced was a move to better position the carmaker for long-term, profitable growth. The move, incidentally, comes about one month before NNA plans to have a new 413,000-square-foot regional distribution facility up and running in southeast Shelby County.
     Among the management changes, the company has brought on Christian Meunier from its European sales office to serve as vice president of model line marketing for NNA. In addition, Jan Thompson will become vice president of marketing communications for the company and Dave Mazur, currently vice president of marketing intelligence, will have additional responsibilities that include pricing, market planning and brand management.
     Nissan's new Memphis-area distribution facility will operate in the Delta Point One building, a 127-acre business park near Holmes and Getwell roads. About 40 to 50 employees will work at the new Memphis facility.

CCRFC Considers Application For Nursing Home

     The Center City Revenue Finance Corp. will vote today on a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) application for a new nursing home at 1513 N. Second St.
     The $13 million facility, called Harbor View, will have 128 beds and will serve as a replacement for the 98-bed Court Manor nursing home at 1414 Court St.
     Parsons, Tenn.-based Tennessee Health Management Inc. (THM) bought the 16-acre plot, along with an existing office building, for $1.5 million in August. The plot's former owner was wood products company Anderson-Tully.
     Inman Construction is the project's general contractor and Askew Nixon Ferguson Architects is the architect.
     THM manages three other senior living communities in the Memphis area and 33 facilities throughout Tennessee.

Dollar General to Be Sold for $6.8 Billion

     Private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. L.P. (KKR) plans to buy Dollar General Corp. for about $6.8 billion, Dollar General officials announced Monday.
     Dollar General shareholders still must approve the deal. The company's board approved the transaction and is recommending its shareholders vote for it. If accepted, the deal could close by the third quarter.
     KKR will pay $22 per share for each Dollar General share, according to an Associated Press news story.
     KKR also will assume $380 million in debt as part of the deal, Dollar General said.
     Dollar General, which has about 64,500 workers, posted 2006 earnings of $350.2 million on sales of $8.58 billion.
     Dollar General Corp. is based in Goodlettsville, Tenn., and operates more than 8,000 stores across the country.

Davidson Hotel Acquires Stamford Holiday Inn In Joint Venture

     Memphis-based Davidson Hotel Co. Inc. and Ohio-based RockBridge Capital LLC have announced a joint-venture acquisition of the 380-room Stamford Holiday Inn Downtown in Stamford, Conn., from FelCor Lodging Trust Inc. for an unspecified amount.
     Davidson holds a minority interest in the partnership and will manage the property. The hotel will undergo a $15 million renovation, scheduled to begin in January 2008, to upgrade the exterior, interior and guest rooms.
     "The hotel will achieve 'like new' status following the completion of a major renovation to virtually all facets of the property," said John Belden, Davidson's president and CEO, in a statement. "The Stamford market continues to thrive, and this acquisition is consistent with our strategy of purchasing well-regarded, branded hotels in markets with high barriers to new competition. This is our second acquisition in a joint venture partnership this year and the 17th property in our long-standing relationship with RockBridge Capital. RockBridge has not only been a strong capital partner for Davidson, but brings a unique, value-added approach to our projects."
     The renovation, expected to be completed in the spring of 2008, will encompass all aspects of the hotel.
     "Over the last three years alone, Davidson has been involved in transactions totaling well over $1 billion," Belden said. "Davidson has now become one of the top 10 largest independent management companies in the industry and we will continue to strategically grow our acquisition and third-party management platforms."
     Davidson Hotel Co. owns and/or manages 29 upscale hotels with nearly 8,700 rooms across the United States, including such brands as Westin, Sheraton, Hyatt, Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, Embassy Suites, Doubletree, Marriott, Renaissance, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn.

BRIDGES Receives Brad Wanzer Award

     BRIDGES recently received the G. Brad Wanzer Jr. Award for Excellence, an honor that came with a $25,000 prize attached.
     Wanzer was the United Way of the Mid-South's senior vice president of fund distribution. During his 31-year career, he was responsible for the planning, management and direction of fund distribution activities across the agency's eight-county Mid-South area.
     After his unexpected death in late 2004, board members, volunteers and staff wanted to honor Wanzer in a way that not only paid tribute to his years of service, but also recognized what he saw as important - improving the community. Out of this desire to honor a friend and co-worker came the idea for the G. Bradley Wanzer Jr. Award for Excellence.
     The award is based on four standards of excellence that were important to Wanzer in his career at United Way: accountability, partnership with United Way of the Mid-South, collaborations in the Mid-South community and outcome measures.

Southern Security Raises Money For Le Bonheur Medical Center

     Southern Security Federal Credit Union has donated $6,000 to Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center. The money was raised by credit union staff who sold nearly 3,000 bags of pecan candies during the holidays. All 10 Southern Security locations in the Memphis area participated.
     The money will help Le Bonheur build a new hospital adjacent to the current facility. The $327 million facility will nearly double the hospital's space for research, teaching and patient care.
     Le Bonheur has raised nearly $60 million toward its $100 million public goal.
PROPERTY SALES 51 223 1,152
MORTGAGES 55 189 861
BUILDING PERMITS 149 541 2,593