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VOL. 122 | NO. 214 | Friday, November 9, 2007

Daily Digest

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COGIC, Area Hotels LLC Break Ground on Hilton

     The Church of God in Christ and hotel development company Area Hotels LLC broke ground Thursday on a Hilton Garden Inn at the southwest corner of Second Street and Linden Avenue near the site of the Chisca Hotel.
     Mundelein, Ill.-based Area Hotels, which develops Hilton family-branded hotels, plans to begin construction around the start of the year, said vice president Dick Haberstich. Work on the hotel is expected to wrap in a year or sooner, he added.
     The $14 million Hilton will have about 120 rooms, Haberstich said. Amenities will include a full restaurant, three conference rooms totaling about 2,100 square feet, and two boardrooms totaling about 725 square feet.
     "It's not quite a typical Hilton Garden Inn," Haberstich said. "The exterior had to be modified to be more acceptable to the Center City Commission."
     The groundbreaking comes in the midst of COGIC's 100th annual convocation in Memphis, where the denomination also is headquartered. COGIC held its first convocation in the city in 1907, when founder Charles Harrison Mason built a congregation after being expelled from the Baptist church over doctrinal differences.
     The denomination once was headquartered at the eight-story, historic Chisca hotel, which was built in 1913 at 272 S. Main St.
     Area Hotels was founded about 10 years ago and also currently is building a hotel in Northwest Arkansas, Haberstich said.
     A COGIC representative did not immediately return a phone call.

Four Foreclosures Filed Against Mark Matthews Dev.

     Trustmark National Bank has filed four first-run foreclosure notices against Mark Matthews Development LLC, which appear in today's issue of The Daily News starting on Page 32.
     Trustmark has appointed Jeffrey D. Germany with Morton & Germany PLLC as the substitute trustee for the properties, which are scheduled for sale Dec. 5 at noon outside the Adams Avenue entrance of the Shelby County Courthouse.
     The properties scheduled for sale are two lots in St. Andrews Place Planned Development, which have addresses of 10003 and 9977 Chariden Drive; six vacant lots in Tulip Creek Subdivision; and one lot in Rolling Hills Farms Subdivision.
     Mark Matthews Development took out one loan in May 2006, one in October 2006 and two in December. The total amount of all four mortgages in default is $937,800.
     No lienholders are named on the properties.
     For more information on the troubles facing the Matthews brothers' companies, see the Oct. 29 issue of The Daily News.

Retailers Report Sluggish October Sales

     The outlook for the holiday shopping season grew bleaker Thursday after retailers announced disappointing October sales results due to consumers' ongoing worries about housing and higher energy prices.
     The downbeat news came from all sectors including mall-based apparel stores such as Limited Brands Inc. and department stores such as Macy's Inc.
     Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, posted sales below expectations despite its aggressive discounting heading into the holidays.
     Warehouse club operators including Costco Wholesale Corp. and BJ's Wholesale Club Inc. were among the few standouts, a sign that consumers are searching for lower prices.
     "Overall, the sales trend continues to slow," said Ken Perkins, president of RetailMetrics LLC, a research company in Swampscott, Mass. "I think the consumer is certainly feeling the (economic) pressure heading into the holidays."
     Milder than normal weather also hurt sales, wiping out consumers' appetite for winter wear.
     With Dec. 25 about seven weeks away, the retail industry is struggling with consumers' eroding confidence and a weakening sales trend amid mounting problems in the economy. Throughout the year, shoppers have been faced with higher gas and food bills and depreciating value of their homes. Tighter credit also has become an issue in recent months. And while last week's move by the Federal Reserve to cut a key interest rate by a quarter-point will make it cheaper to borrow money, economists say it might be too late to help boost holiday spending.
     Amid such challenges, many stores including Wal-Mart and Toys "R" Us Inc. aim to jump start the season early this year by offering door busters and big discounts starting last weekend in a season that is expected to show the slowest growth since 2002. But shoppers don't seem to be in a hurry to buy.
     One big problem is that there seems to be little buzz about must-have items. In the toy business, retailers and manufacturers already bruised by a series of highly publicized recalls this summer suffered another blow Wednesday when millions of units of a toy called Aqua Dots were taken off shelves; scientists found they contain a chemical that converts into a powerful "date rape" drug when ingested.

Sept. 11 Traveling Memorial Stops in Memphis

     A traveling exhibit focusing on a Sept. 11 memorial at the site of the World Trade Center in New York will make a stop in Memphis this weekend.
     The exhibit will be in Memphis Saturday and Sunday at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library, 3030 Poplar Ave., from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days.
     The exhibit was in Little Rock, Ark., Wednesday where uniformed firefighters and police officers signed a steel beam that will be used in the construction of the memorial.
     School children and onlookers attended an outdoor ceremony honoring the one-day stop of the National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum's mobile exhibit. Afterward, people filed through a line to sign the 37-foot beam with permanent markers.
     More than $300 million has been raised privately and more than $250 million is committed by the federal government to build the eight-acre memorial. It will set two waterfall-filled pools just above the twin towers' footprints, surrounded by a glade of oak and sweetgum trees. Visitors will descend underground to a Sept. 11 museum.
     Construction on the memorial and museum began last year. The memorial is expected to be complete in 2009 and the museum by 2010. The memorial and museum will share the former World Trade Center site with the 1,776-foot Freedom Tower, which is under construction.

Public Library Wins National Award

     The Memphis Public Library & Information Center is among five library systems in the nation that recently were selected as a recipient of a 2007 National Medal for Museum and Library Service.
     Presented by the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services, it is the nation's highest honor for museums and libraries. Five museums and five library systems have been selected for the honor, which comes with a $10,000 award and attendance at a special ceremony in Washington. The date for the ceremony has not yet been set.
     The Memphis Public Library & Information Center includes the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library at 3030 Poplar Ave. and 18 branch libraries throughout the city and Shelby County. Mobile services include InfoBus, JobLINC and Training Wheels, a resource for child care centers.

Habitat to Commemorate Construction of 300th Home

     Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis is on the verge of completing its 300th home built since 1983. To help celebrate the milestone, Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International, will be in Memphis Tuesday and Wednesday as the chapter dedicates the home.
     Memphis Habitat's fall campaign has been dubbed "300 Homes, 300 Families, 300 Reasons to Celebrate."
     Several events are planned during the time Reckford will be in Memphis. A press conference marking the dedication of the 300th home, where the keys will be given to the home's owner, Twana Coleman, will be held Tuesday.
     A gala will be held that evening at the Hilton Memphis for Habitat staff, sponsors, volunteers and homeowners to celebrate the milestone.
     The two-day celebration will conclude Wednesday with a breakfast roundtable. Memphis-area social service providers, housing providers, developers and financial institutions will conduct an open forum on how Habitat can partner with other organizations to help combat affordable housing issues and poverty in Memphis.
PROPERTY SALES 51 334 9,936
MORTGAGES 41 330 10,946
BUILDING PERMITS 348 1,216 22,173
BANKRUPTCIES 43 348 6,311