Marketplace Dev. Buys Jackson Ave. Center

Marketplace Development LLC has bought a strip shopping center at 1688 Jackson Ave. from The Bornblum Foundation for $337,500, financing it with a $1.2 million loan through Iberiabank.

Built in 1920, the 10,761-square-foot, Class C center is on 0.6 acres on the north side of Jackson Avenue, bounded by North Evergreen Street on the east and Henry Avenue on the north, and east of North Belvedere Boulevard. The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2011 appraisal was $180,400.

Both Marketplace Development and The Bornblum Foundation are based in Memphis.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports

– Daily News staff

US Homebuilder Outlook Dips Below 4-Year High

The outlook among U.S. homebuilders dimmed in April after six months of rising or steady confidence. The decline suggests the housing market remains weak despite modest gains.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo said Monday that its builder sentiment index fell this month to 25 from 28. Last month’s reading was the highest since June 2007. The index rose for five straight months between September and February.

Builders expressed weaker confidence in sales over the next six months. A separate gauge measuring that outlook rose for six straight months before falling this month, from 35 to 32.

The housing industry has a long way to go in its slow recovery. Any reading below 50 indicates negative sentiment about the housing market. The index hasn’t reached that level since April 2006, the peak of the housing boom.

The spring buying season got an early start thanks to a mild January and February, which made up the best winter for sales of previously occupied homes in five years. Permits to build houses and apartments rose in February to their highest level since 2008.

Yet home prices continued to fall this winter. Builders keep slashing their prices to stay competitive. Last year was the worst for new-home sales on records dating back to 1963.

Builders are struggling to compete with foreclosures, which have forced down prices of previously occupied homes. And many people are finding it hard to qualify for loans or meet higher required down payments.

Low appraisals are scuttling some deals after contracts have been signed.

Builders have pointed to some regional pockets of strength. New Orleans, Pittsburgh and other smaller areas of Texas, in particular, have reported increased buying.

– The Associated Press

Fair Housing Conference Slated for April 23

The Fair Housing Alliance of Greater Memphis will host its 12th annual Fair Housing Conference Monday, April 23, from 1 p.m. until 4:30 p.m. at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library, 3030 Poplar Ave.

The event pays tribute to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the passage of the 1968 Civil Rights Act, also known as the Fair Housing Act.

This year, there will be presentations on Hardest Hit funding, information on Homebuyers Education and financial literacy and budgeting in today’s economy.

The Memphis Area Association of Realtors 2012 president Carol Lott will share in the opening remarks.

– Sarah Baker

Pair of Guests Coming Up at Chamber Events

The Greater Memphis Chamber has some big newsmakers scheduled to be featured at some of its upcoming “A Conversation With” series.

First up, Classic American Hardwoods president Bill Courtney – who’s also the coach featured in the recent Oscar-winning documentary “Undefeated” – will speak to a chamber audience Friday, April 20, at The Peabody hotel. Trust One Bank is the title sponsor of the lunchtime presentation, which runs from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., and it will include highlights from Courtney’s involvement in turning around the football program at Manassas High School.

Later this spring, Jack Troung, president and CEO of Electrolux Major Appliances North America, will speak at another “A Conversation With” event at the Memphis Cook Convention Center, according to the chamber’s website. Trust One Bank also is the title sponsor for that event, scheduled for June 8 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Electrolux currently is building a new plant in Memphis in Frank C. Pidgeon Industrial Park.

– Andy Meek

Shelby Farms Park Plans for Earth Week

Shelby Farms Park will mark Earth Day with the first 5K run the park conservancy has produced.

The April 22 run will include prizes for the best eco-themed costumes.

The park will host a Down To Earth Festival on April 21 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The festival is free and will feature live music, eco arts and crafts, solar demonstrations, an obstacle course and horse-drawn carriage tours.

– Bill Dries

Mid-South Spay and Neuter Named Funds Recipient

For the recipient of its yearlong fundraising efforts, Mystic Krewe of Pegasus has chosen Mid-South Spay and Neuter Services, a nonprofit clinic dedicated to reducing pet overpopulation and euthanasia rates by offering affordable spay and neuter services to the public.

The Krewe’s motto is “Unity and Diversity for Charity.” Throughout the year, the Krewe has hosted chili tastings, murder mystery dinners, a haircut-a-thon, a Seize the Clay party, and silent auctions to benefit Mid-South Spay and Neuter Services.

A check was presented Sunday, April 15, at 5650 Mt. Moriah Road – the site of what will be the organization’s new clinic.

With more than 5,200 surgeries performed in 2011, Mid-South Spay and Neuter Services says it intends to use the funds received from Mystic Krewe of Pegasus to substantially increase those numbers, as well as awareness of services, in 2012.

Mid-South Spay and Neuter’s clinic, which has operated since 2005, has performed more than 22,000 spay and neuter procedures, reducing the number of offspring that could have been produced by unaltered animals. The clinic also offers age-appropriate vaccinations and microchipping at the time of surgery.

– Aisling Maki

3 Congress Members Paid Salaries to Relatives

A study by a Washington-based nonprofit found that three Tennessee Congress members used campaign money to pay salaries to their relatives.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports that the three were among 82 members whose families benefited from their positions in government over the past two election cycles.

In Tennessee, U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann paid his college-aged son $4,652 from campaign funds to accompany him on the campaign trail during the 2010 election cycle.

U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan, of Knoxville, paid his sister, son and niece a combined $7,600 for work on his financial disclosures, and U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn paid her daughter $301 for administrative and fundraising services.

The payments don’t violate the law or House ethics rules.

– The Associated Press

Romney Taps Longtime Adviser to Head VP Search

Mitt Romney has tapped a longtime adviser to begin his search for a vice presidential candidate.

Romney said Monday that Beth Myers is in charge of “selection and vetting and analysis.”

“I have selected someone who has been a counselor of mine for a number of years, Beth Myers. She was my chief of staff when I was governor,” Romney said during an interview with Diane Sawyer of ABC News.

Romney is moving forward as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee after rival Rick Santorum suspended his campaign last week.

Myers was Romney’s chief of staff when he was Massachusetts governor. She currently is a senior adviser on his presidential campaign.

– The Associated Press