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VOL. 127 | NO. 171 | Friday, August 31, 2012

Daily Digest

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New Jersey Company Buys Mendenhall Retail Portfolio

Lexington Funding LLC has paid $950,000 for a portfolio of retail strip centers on South Mendenhall Road in Hickory Hill North.

The Lakewood, N.J., company bought the properties at 3675 S. Mendenhall Road, 3698 S. Mendenhall Road, 3720 S. Mendenhall Road and 3802 S. Mendenhall Road from New York-based Mend-Am LLC.

Aaron Muschel signed the warranty deed as manager of Mend-Am, which bought the portfolio in 2006 for $3.2 million.

The sale closed June 11 but wasn’t recorded by the Shelby County Register of Deeds until this week. No financing was associated with the transaction.

All four Class B strip centers are south of South Mendenhall Road’s intersection with Winchester Road.

The 3675 S. Mendenhall Road property – the only one on the west side of Mendenhall – contains a 10,800-square-foot retail center that was built in 1980 and sits on 1.2 acres. The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2012 appraisal is $365,500.

The 3698 S. Mendenhall Road property contains a 10,860-square-foot retail center that was built in 1978 and sits on 1.03 acres; its 2012 appraisal is $365,500.

The 3720 S. Mendenhall Road property contains a 10,800-square-foot retail center that was built in 1979 and sits on 0.96 acres; its 2012 appraisal is $365,500.

And the 3802 S. Mendenhall Road property contains a 15,900-square-foot retail center that was built in 1985 and sits on 1.32 acres; its 2012 appraisal is $503,200.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports

– Daily News staff

Fred's August Revenue Falls 2.8 Percent

Discount-store operator Fred’s Inc. said Thursday that a key revenue figure fell 2.8 percent in August, but the company said sales picked up a bit at the end of the month because of back-to-school shopping.

Analysts expected a larger 4.3 percent drop in revenue in stores open at least one year, according to Thomson Reuters. The measure is important to retailers because it excludes sales from new stores and stores that have closed recently.

The company said sales were slow in the four weeks through Aug. 25, but an increase in late back-to-school sales helped results. Fred’s pharmacy department was also a bright spot during the month.

Total revenue for the four weeks ended Aug. 25 rose 2 percent to $139.9 million.

Year-to-date, revenue in stores open at least one year fell 0.8 percent and total revenue rose 3 percent to $1.11 billion.

Memphis-based Fred’s operates about 700 discount stores in the Southeast.

– The Associated Press

Commercial Appeal Cuts at Least 17 Employees

The Commercial Appeal is planning another round of layoffs.

In an email to members Tuesday, Aug. 28, Memphis Newspaper Guild president Wayne Risher announced that The Commercial Appeal is eliminating 17 guild-covered jobs as part of a “planned reduction in force.”

The jobs include 15 positions in the circulation customer service department and two in advertising. The employees will be paid through Sept. 7 and remain under company health insurance through the end of September.

“The company says the reductions are part of an effort to standardize operations across all Scripps newspaper properties,” wrote Risher, a 29-year reporter at The Commercial Appeal, Cincinnati-based The E.W. Scripps Co.’s largest circulation newspaper.

The letter said the circulation work had been outsourced as of 11 a.m. Monday to Circseller, a customer service call center outsourcing business. The advertising work will be outsourced to a company in India. Both firms have worked with The Commercial Appeal in the past.

The layoffs come after nine guild-covered employees lost their jobs in December. In June, Scripps named George H. Cogswell III as the new publisher of The Commercial Appeal, a week after his predecessor Joe Pepe left the company.

– Sarah Baker

Tennessee Starting to Benefit From Foreclosure Settlement

Tennessee homeowners have received more than $36 million in relief from March 1 through June 30 as part of a nationwide settlement reached with the country’s five big mortgage servicers.

That’s according to the office of Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper. The relief is in the form of loan modifications, refinances and facilitated short sales.

At the close of the quarterly period, servicers also were in the process of offering an additional $17 million to $29 million in savings to Tennessee homeowners, according to Cooper’s office.

In April, Tennessee along with 48 other attorneys general and federal agencies reached an agreement with Bank of America Corp., JP Morgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo & Co., Citigroup Inc. and Ally Financial/GMAC. It was prompted by state and federal investigations into improper foreclosure and related practices.

The settlement will provide about $25 billion in relief nationwide to distressed borrowers and state governments, including an estimated $140 million in benefits in Tennessee.

– Andy Meek

University of Memphis Awarded $2.2 Million for Literacy Study

The Department of Psychology’s Institute for Intelligent Systems at the University of Memphis has been awarded $2.2 million to address the literacy learning needs of struggling adult readers.

According to the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy, nearly 43 percent of adults in the United States have difficulty reading the print materials they encounter. A lack of proficient reading ability means a higher unemployment rate, especially with the new demands for digital literacy skills in today’s workplace.

Researchers in the five-year study will focus on two major goals. The first is to assess the underlying cognitive and motivational processes that contribute to or impede the reading growth of adults who read between third- and eighth-grade levels. The second goal is to attend adult basic education programs in order to evaluate and develop multiple-component reading instruction for this group.

An animated computer tutoring system called AutoTutor Lite will be used to interact with the subjects. The Web-based series will involve an animated conversational agent, a curriculum script, and the semantic evaluation of student contributions and electronic text to be read.

Dr. Art Graesser, professor in the Institute for Intelligent Systems, is serving as co-principal investigator, directing the Web-based curriculum content portion of the study.

– Aisling Maki

Donnell Road Bridge to Close for Two Weeks

The Donnell Road Bridge across Crooked Creek in north Shelby County will close Sept. 10 for work by the Shelby County Bridge Section and reopen Sept. 22.

The detour begins at Donnell and Millington-Arlington Road to Brunswick and Pleasant Ridge roads to pick up Donnell on the other side of the bridge.

The rehabilitation work is the latest on several bridges by Shelby County government in northern Shelby County.

– Bill Dries

30-Year US Mortgage Rate Falls to 3.59 Percent

Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages fell this week and are just slightly above record lows reached earlier this year. The low rates have contributed to a modest housing recovery.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the rate on the 30-year loan declined to 3.59 percent, down from 3.66 percent last week. Five weeks ago, the rate fell to 3.49 percent, the lowest since long-term mortgages began in the 1950s.

The average on the 15-year fixed mortgage, a popular refinancing option, slipped to 2.86 percent. That’s down from 2.89 percent last week and from the record low of 2.80 percent five weeks ago.

To calculate average rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country on Monday through Wednesday of each week.

The average does not include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates. One point equals 1 percent of the loan amount.

The average fee for 30-year loans was 0.6 point, down from 0.7 point last week. The fee for 15-year loans also slipped to 0.6 point from 0.7.

The average rate on one-year adjustable rate mortgages fell to 2.63 percent from 2.66 percent last week. The fee for one-year adjustable rate loans was unchanged at 0.4 point. The average rate on five-year adjustable rate mortgages declined to 2.78 percent from 2.80 percent. The fee held steady at 0.6 point.

– The Associated Press

PROPERTY SALES 74 74 17,458
MORTGAGES 93 93 20,128
BUILDING PERMITS 126 126 36,072
BANKRUPTCIES 63 63 11,227