Pontotoc Place Granted $2.2 Million Refinancing

The Memphis Center City Revenue Finance Corp. board recently approved a $2.2 million deed of trust for Pontotoc Place LLC for its multifamily property at 291 E. Pontotoc Place, at the intersection of South Third Street and Pontotoc Place. The property is due south of FedExForum.

The deed of trust was dated June 24, with the Memphis Center City Revenue Finance Corp. as grantor. The loan matures July 1, 2018.

CCRFC will retain landlord rights on the property per a March 3, 2003, lease agreement. Pontotoc Place LLC is an entity operated by the Church of God in Christ Inc.

The refinancing approval was standard operating procedure, said Jeff Sanford, president of the Center City Commission.

“We don’t unreasonably withhold approval of refinancings,” Sanford said. “It’s kind of a housekeeping thing. I think occupancy there has remained high, so it’s not particularly significant of anything other than the fact that it’s not uncommon for projects of that age to undergo refinancing, perhaps at better terms.”

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports

Chief Justice Delays Supreme Court Retirement

Tennessee Chief Justice William M. Barker is delaying his retirement date to keep the state Supreme Court fully occupied while his replacement is selected.

Barker, who has served on the state Supreme Court since 1995, originally had planned to retire on Sept. 1. Now he says he will stay until Sept. 15 so there are no vacancies when the court hears its docket in Knoxville early that month.

Seven lawyers have applied to fill the vacancy, but the state’s Judicial Selection Commission won’t meet until Aug. 18 to begin the process of deciding on a three-candidate panel to send to the governor.

Construction Spending Drops 0.4 Percent in May

Construction spending fell in May for the 11th time in the past year as a continuing slump in housing offset strength in nonresidential building.

The Commerce Department reported Tuesday that construction spending dropped 0.4 percent in May, slightly less than had been expected. Spending on hotels and office buildings retained some strength but there were continued declines in housing, which has been in a slump for two years.

Residential construction dropped 1.6 percent in May, the 25th decline out of the past 26 months.

Homebuilders have been frantically slashing their production in the face of the worst housing slump in more than two decades. Analysts believe housing activity will keep falling for some time because even with the cutbacks in production, the backlog of unsold homes is remaining near record levels. The problem is that a rising tide of foreclosures is forcing even more properties onto the already glutted market.

Private nonresidential construction rose by 0.2 percent in May to an all-time high of $405.3 billion at a seasonally adjusted annual rate. The small increase followed even bigger 1.6 percent gains in both April and March.

The strength in May reflected a big increase in spending on hotels and motels and a smaller advance in office construction. These gains helped to offset declines in spending on shopping centers and amusement and recreation centers.

Economists believe that strength seen recently in nonresidential construction will not last. They are concerned that a severe credit crunch occurring as banks tighten standards in the wake of rising mortgage defaults will begin to squeeze nonresidential building projects as well.

Spending on government projects rose by 0.4 percent to a record of $301.1 billion at an annual rate in May. A gain of 0.6 percent in state and local building projects offset a 1.7 percent drop in federal construction spending.

The 0.4 percent drop in overall construction spending represented the 11th decline in the past year and left total construction spending at $1.085 trillion at a seasonally adjusted annual rate.

Analyst Upgrades AutoZone, Citing Boosted Buyback

A BMO Capital Markets analyst on Monday upgraded AutoZone Inc. to “Market Perform” from “Underperform,” citing the automotive parts retailer’s plans to boost its share buyback program by $500 million.

Rick Weinhart also cited a deal announced Thursday between AutoZone and ESL Investments Inc., which has a 36.2 percent stake in the company.

Under that agreement, if ESL’s stake reaches 40 percent of shares outstanding, the hedge fund agreed to vote its shares above that mark in line with other shareholders.

“A more aggressive buyback plan should be accretive to earnings per share and with modestly more financial risk,” Weinhart wrote in a note to investors.

“The agreement and history of ESL Investments also leads us to believe ESL would become more active in buying AutoZone if it fell too far below $120.”

On the flip side, Weinhart said the deal suggests that the potential for ESL to buy AutoZone looks far less likely in the near future.

City to Receive Honor For GIS Software

The city of Memphis has been chosen out of more than 100,000 competing organizations worldwide to receive a top honor from the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI).

The group will present the Special Achievement in GIS (geographic information system) Award at the ESRI 28th annual international user conference in San Diego, Calif., on Aug. 6. Via the city’s GIS software, Memphians have access to color aerial photography and can perform such tasks as finding out which Memphis City Council district they live in and search for property owner information.

The GIS system can be accessed by going to www.memphistn.gov.

Convention Center, Marriott Join to Offer Packages

The Memphis Cook Convention Center and the Memphis Marriott Downtown, which sits adjacent to the center, have partnered to create event packages that will help restructure and streamline negotiations for event planners who are booking banquets and one-day events.

The ready-made luncheon and dinner packages come in Silver, Gold and Platinum bundles. The packages are designed to offer price flexibility and save the event planner time in their projects.

The packages can be designed to meet a variety of budgets, and any of them will meet the needs of the typical banquet, awards ceremony or gala event.

The project is the first time the Memphis Cook Convention Center and the Downtown Marriott have joined forces in such a way.

AT&T to Invest $400M in Tenn. For Statewide Cable

AT&T Inc. plans to invest $400 million in Tennessee as part of its effort to offer statewide cable television, Internet and phone services, company representatives have announced.

The company made its application for a statewide cable franchise with the Tennessee Regulatory Authority on Tuesday. The move follows the passage of a new law this year that allows companies to bypass the old system of requiring individual cable permits for each city or community.

The change was the result of a two-year legislative fight between AT&T, the cable industry and local governments that saw millions spent on lobbying and advertising campaigns.

Cable companies had argued that it would be unfair for AT&T to be able to circumvent the existing rules to be able to offer their services statewide.

AT&T wants to roll out its U-verse package, which delivers TV content to consumers using the Internet, rather than through traditional cable or broadcast formats.