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VOL. 122 | NO. 197 | Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Daily Digest

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Cypress Realty Buys Wolf River Office Park Lots

     Cypress Realty Holdings Co. II LLC has bought two lots totaling 6.67 acres in Wolf River Office Park from J. Kevin Hyneman and Jeffrey Bronze for $3.9 million.
     In conjunction, Cypress filed a $10.1 million construction loan through Regions Bank for the property. The loan matures in October 2015.
     Wolf River Office Park sits on the north side of Wolf River Boulevard west of South Germantown Road in Germantown. It was approved for three office-zoned lots on 21.07 acres, according to the most recent site plan, filed in September with the Shelby County Register of Deeds.
     Price Ford of Cypress Realty Holdings declined to comment on plans for the lots.

CCC Board to Discuss Front Street Development

     Center City Commission board members will consider a development loan application for 91 South Front St. at today's board meeting.
     The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the CCC, 114 N. Main St.
     Developers Bert Robinson and Josh Haralson, operating as 91 Cotton Row LLC, plan to turn the 15,000-square-foot building into a mixed-use development containing seven apartments, 1,500 square feet of ground-floor retail and office space facing Wagner Place.
     Earlier this month, the Center City Revenue Finance Corp. approved a 10-year PILOT (payment-in-lieu-of-taxes) plan for the $1.5 million renovation project.
     The CCC Traffic & Transportation Committee also will meet today. Committee members plan to discuss vehicular traffic on Main Street, Downtown cruising and alternative transportation options such as trolleys and bike routes.
     The committee meeting begins at 3 p.m.

Scripps Plans Split Of Its Media Holdings

     E.W. Scripps Co. said Tuesday that it wants to split itself into two publicly traded media companies, one focusing on its fast-growing cable operations and its online shopping services and the other on its slumping newspaper business and local television stations.
     Scripps Networks Interactive would include HGTV, the Food Network, DIY Network, Fine Living Television Network and Great American Country along with online comparison shopping services Shopzilla and uSwitch.
     E.W. Scripps Co. would include newspapers in 17 U.S. markets, 10 broadcast television stations, a character licensing and feature syndication business operated by United Media and Scripps Media Center in Washington.
     Scripps' announcement comes two weeks after media company Belo Corp. said it plans to spin off its newspapers, which have been struggling to keep readers and advertising dollars, into a new company that will operate separately from its 20 television stations.
     Scripps said the split could be completed in second quarter 2008.

FedEx Drivers, Executives Go Head to Head in Court

     A federal court on Tuesday approved class-action status for a lawsuit filed by FedEx Ground delivery drivers.
     The drivers are challenging the company's labor rules that say its drivers are independent contractors and that they are prohibited from organizing under federal labor laws.
     FedEx said it plans to appeal the decision by Judge Robert Miller of the U.S. District Court for Northern Indiana. The ruling covers 14,000 current and 10,000 former FedEx Ground delivery drivers in 36 states.
     An eventual ruling in the case will decide if the drivers are employees who are owed benefits, overtime and expenses.

Used Parts Dealer Garners Statewide Award

     Pull-A-Part, the used auto parts dealer that currently is building its first Memphis location, recently won the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry Award for outstanding environmental accomplishments at the annual Tennessee Chamber Environmental Conference.
     Pull-A-Part received the award for its solid waste management, according to the company, as well as for its significant contributions to air and water quality and general pursuit of environmental excellence.
     The company, which processes more than 2,000 old cars in Tennessee each month and redistributes the parts to customers, is a third-generation and family-owned auto recycling business.
     To read more about Pull-A-Part's entry into the Memphis market, see our June 12 edition at www.memphisdailynews.com

Official Says Govt., Others Should Help Out Shaky Economy

     U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson called Tuesday for an aggressive response to an unfolding housing crisis he said presents a significant risk to the economy.
     In the administration's most detailed reaction to the steepest housing slump in 16 years, Paulson said government and the financial industry should provide immediate help for homeowners trying to refinance current mortgages before they reset at much higher rates.
     He also called for an overhaul of laws and regulations governing mortgage lending to halt abusive practices that contributed to the current crisis.
     "Let me be clear, despite strong economic fundamentals, the housing decline is still unfolding and I view it as the most significant current risk to our economy," Paulson said in a speech delivered at Georgetown University's law school. "The longer housing prices remain stagnant or fall, the greater the penalty to our future economic growth."
     In his most somber assessment of the crisis to date, Paulson said that the housing correction is "not ending as quickly" as it had appeared it would and that "it now looks like it will continue to adversely impact our economy, our capital markets and many homeowners for some time yet."
     For more on the national economy, see Page 1's Associated Press story about Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's latest comments.

Most Industrial Activity Down, September Figures Show

     U.S. industrial output turned in another weak reading in September as the short strike at General Motors Corp. contributed to a big drop in auto production.
     The Federal Reserve said that industrial output edged up 0.1 percent in September following no change at all in August. The August reading had been reported a month ago as a stronger 0.2 percent gain.
     The concern is that the deep slump in housing and a severe credit crunch will trigger further cutbacks in industrial production as businesses grow cautious about the future.
     The Fed report showed that output of autos and auto parts fell by 3.3 percent in September following a 1.6 percent drop in August. Part of the September weakness was blamed on the brief two-day strike at General Motors.
     All of manufacturing posted a 0.1 percent increase in September after a sharp 0.4 percent drop in August. That weakness followed solid gains of 0.6 percent in June and 0.8 percent in July.
     The nation's utilities saw output decline by 0.1 percent in September after a 4.6 percent surge in August that had reflected a heat wave that hit much of the country.
     Output in mining, a category that includes oil well production, edged up 0.2 percent in September, a rebound following a 0.6 percent drop in August.
     Analysts say they believe U.S. factories will be under pressure in the months ahead, reflecting waning demand for domestic-made cars and weakness in such housing-related industries as building materials.
     With the tiny increase in output in September, the nation's factories, mines and utilities operated at 82.1 percent of capacity, unchanged from August.

Iconic Photographer Dies At 85 of Stroke Complications

     Photographer Ernest Withers, who spent more than 60 years documenting history, from the blues music of Beale Street to the Civil Rights movement, died Monday night. He was 85.
     Withers died at the Memphis Veterans Medical Center from complications of a stroke he suffered last month, said his son, Joshua 'Billy' Withers of Los Angeles.
     As a freelance photographer for black newspapers, Withers traveled with Martin Luther King Jr., Medgar Evers and other civil rights figures, capturing on film the momentous events of the 1950s and '60s.
     Withers also photographed jazz and blues musicians who frequented Memphis' famed Beale Street, such as Rufus Thomas, B.B. King, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and Elvis Presley.
     Withers' career began during World War II when he was asked to replace an Army photographer who was being promoted. His duties included photographing engineering projects such as bridges and airfields that black soldiers helped build. Withers then began shooting photos for his camp newspaper.
     His news clients would later range from the local Tri-State Defender to Newsweek, Time and The New York Times.
PROPERTY SALES 36 154 6,546
MORTGAGES 34 94 4,129
BUILDING PERMITS 201 554 15,915
BANKRUPTCIES 43 126 3,396