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VOL. 123 | NO. 204 | Friday, October 17, 2008

Daily Digest

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Construction Loan Filed For Central Gardens Project

Belvedere Central LLC has taken out a $750,000 construction loan for the second phase of the Central Gardens Square Condominium renovation project at 1676 Central Ave. The lender was BancorpSouth Bank, and the loan has a maturity date of Sept. 17, 2009.

Jack Tucker and Richard Kauerz of Par Investments LLC signed the trust deed as members of the company.

The apartments are in five two-story buildings constructed in 1973, which sit on a 3-acre lot on the northwest corner of Central Avenue and Belvedere Boulevard. The Shelby County Assessor’s 2008 appraisal is $153,500.

Linda Sowell of Sowell & Co. Realtors is marketing the Central Gardens condo project. She said the first phase, which included 24 of the 48 units, was started in November and already has been completed, and the second phase currently is under way.

“There were 24 (units) in the first phase, and 22 of those are sold, which in this market, I think is phenomenal,” Sowell said. “The location is right in the heart of Central Gardens, and it is really appealing to young professionals, and the developers are great; they worked with the neighborhood.”

The apartments are being renovated inside and out, Sowell said. The renovations include new roofs, siding, windows, doors, hardwood and carpet floors, cabinets and new stainless steel appliances. All the units are townhouses and most have hardwood on the first floor and carpet upstairs. Two- and three-bedroom units are available.

A security gate and fence are already in place, and the parking lot also is being renovated. Each condo also will have a patio area, and some units have fireplaces.

“Of the units, the smallest unit is around 1,300 square feet, and the largest one is about 1,700 square feet,” Sowell said.

The estimated completion date for the second phase is sometime in the spring. Crawford, Smith & Sharp LLC is the general contractor for the project.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports

Homebuilder Sentiment Index Hits Record Low

The National Association of Home Builders has reported its housing market index hit a record low this month as the U.S. financial crisis shook builders’ confidence in the prospect for improved sales of new homes.

The Washington-based trade association reported Thursday the index tumbled by three points to 14 in October. The index stood at 17 last month, a one-point increase from August.

Index readings higher than 50 indicate positive sentiment about the market.

The report reflects a survey of 446 residential developers nationwide, tracking builders’ perceptions of market conditions.

Builders’ gauge of foot traffic by prospective buyers fell two points to 12, while sales expectations over the next six months plunged nine points to 19.

Industrial Production Falls By Most Since 1974

Big industry production plunged in September by the most since late 1974, largely reflecting fallout from hurricanes Gustav and Ike.

The Federal Reserve reported Thursday that production at the nation’s factories, mines and utilities plunged 2.8 percent last month, on top of a 1 percent drop in August.

The Fed estimated that disruptions related to the hurricanes accounted for about 2.25 percentage points of the total drop in industrial production in September. In addition, a strike affecting the commercial aircraft industry also was a factor in the poor showing, accounting for around a half percentage point of the overall decline, the Fed reported.

The drop in industrial production in September was the biggest since December 1974, when output fell 3.5 percent.

The latest showing on industrial activity was worse than economists expected. They were forecasting a decline of 0.8 percent.

Crude oil and natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico were suspended because of the hurricanes, contributing to the hit to overall industrial output, the Fed reported. Hurricane-related shutdown of petroleum refineries and petrochemical producers also factored into the drop. Other manufacturing industries reported outages from the storms, which also held back production last month.

Still, even before the hurricanes hit, manufacturing had been feeling the pain of the housing collapse, credit problems and weaker demand from the slowing U.S. economy. Demand for housing-related goods and construction materials has been particularly hard hit as the housing slump has dragged on.

Slowdowns in other overseas economies, meanwhile, are expected to sap demand for U.S. exports, which has been a key factor keeping the U.S. economy afloat.

Memphis, MTSU Get Grants From Program

The city of Memphis and Middle Tennessee State University are getting $6 million in grants through a federal program to reduce lead contamination.

The grants are part of a wide-ranging program by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to protect children from residential lead poisoning.

Memphis is getting $4 million for lead cleanup, while MTSU in Murfreesboro will receive $2 million to help study ways to eliminate residential health hazards.

The grants announced Thursday are part of a $131 million grant program.

nexAir’s Vaughan Retires After 39 Years

Bill Vaughan, president and chief operating officer of Memphis-based nexAir, is retiring after 39 years at the company.

A native of Memphis and graduate of Vanderbilt University, Vaughan began his career in 1969 with Standard Welders Supply/Standard Oxygen Service and was a part of its merger with Mid-South Oxygen Co. and name change to nexAir in 1996.

Vaughan has served two terms as co-chairman for the Praxair Distributor Advisory Council, which recommended distributor-related business decisions for the company.

In the Memphis community, Vaughan served as president of The Phoenix Club of Memphis, on the board of directors of the Central Branch of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Memphis as well as the board of directors for the Vollintine Branch of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Memphis.

He also served on the board of directors for the Kiwanis Club of Memphis, the board of trustees for St. Mary’s Episcopal School and as a senior warden and vestry member for the Church of the Holy Communion.

Consumer Prices Flat in September

Consumer prices were flat in September as retreating costs for gasoline, clothes and new cars helped to offset rising prices for food, medical care and other things.

The new reading on the Consumer Price Index, the government’s most closely watched inflation barometer, came after prices actually dipped by 0.1 percent in August, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

Those two months, however, had offered Americans a rare reprieve. Consumer prices have marched upward most of the year, spiking by an eye-popping 1.1 percent in June.

The toll of galloping prices for much of this year is eating into paychecks, further straining consumers who are pulling back sharply. Recent readings on retail sales were grim. The prospects that consumers will retrench further would spell more trouble for the already ailing economy.

Oil prices Wednesday dipped below $75 a barrel for the first time in 14 months, suggesting gas prices will keep falling. Oil prices have plunged almost 50 percent since hitting a record high of $147.27 in mid July.

So far this year, consumer prices have risen at an annualized pace of 4.5 percent, faster than the 4.1 percent increase for all of 2007. Core prices in the first nine months of this year have increased at a pace of 2.4 percent, matching the rise for all of last year.

Vision Walk Set for Saturday

People can support the fight against blindness by participating in Memphis VisionWalk at the East Parkway entrance to Overton Park on Saturday. Registration for the event starts at 9 a.m., and the walk begins at 10 a.m.

This will be the first VisionWalk since the opening of the Mid-South Chapter of the Foundation Fighting Blindness. Proceeds from the walk will go to the foundation, which is the largest source of non-governmental funding for retinal degenerative disease research in the world.

The walk’s co-chairs are Dr. Martin Herman and his daughter, Camille Herman. Herman’s wife, Lynette, has retinitis pigmentosa, causing her to become legally blind.

“This is something that impacts our entire family and many other families across the country and around the world,” Martin Herman said. “We really hope that people come out and walk. The more money and awareness we can raise, the more money we can put into researchers’ hands to find a cure for eye diseases like retinitis pigmentosa.”

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