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VOL. 6 | NO. 1 | Saturday, December 29, 2012

Daily Digest

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Fogelman Partnership Buys Atlanta Apartments for $44 Million

A joint venture with Memphis-based Fogelman Venture Partners and New York-based DRA Advisors LLC acquired The Residences at Northlake Apartments in Atlanta and concurrently renamed the community CityNORTH Apartments.

CityNORTH is a 357-unit, Class A mid-rise apartment community built in 2006. The property was 95 percent occupied at the time of the acquisition.

CityNORTH is comprised of four- and five-story buildings with interior corridors, elevator access and an attached parking garage.

Apartment homes include gourmet kitchens, stainless steel appliances, upgraded cabinetry and ceramic tile flooring. The property has one- and two-bedroom floor plans with rental rates of $849 to $1,149 per month.

Fogelman Management Group will manage the property. Founded in 1963, the firm presently manages 60 apartment communities totaling more than 18,000 apartment homes Southeast, Southwest and Midwest regions of the country.

Rick and Mark Fogelman are the principals of Fogelman Venture Partners.

Fogelman Venture Partners and DRA Advisors joined forces to buy a pair of apartment communities in Houston in November.

Supreme Court Rules Teacher Wrongly Fired

The Tennessee Supreme Court, in a unanimous opinion, has ruled the old Memphis City Schools board acted improperly in 2007 when it fired a tenured teacher who took extended sick leave without written charges or a termination hearing.

The high court’s opinion reverses a Tennessee Court of Appeals decision and reinstates a trial court judgment awarding Saundra Thompson back pay and damages.

Shelby County Chancellor Arnold Goldin awarded Thompson back pay, damages and legal fees totaling $325,419 and ordered her reinstated.

But the appeals court remanded the case back to Goldin, ruling there was a dispute about whether Thompson sought additional sick leave prior to being fired or whether she did not make such a request.

Since Thompson was terminated in 2007, the school board governing public schools within the city of Memphis has since been merged with the Shelby County Board of Education to form a countywide school board governing both school systems. The two school systems merge in August 2013.

Meanwhile, the state tenure law at issue in the Thompson case has since been amended by the Tennessee legislature.

The Supreme Court opinion applies only to the state law that existed at the time of Thompson’s claim.

The Gift and Art Shop to Close After 55 Years

The Gift and Art Shop Inc. – an upscale boutique offering china, crystal, flatware, stationery and other specialty items – is closing its doors at 4704 Poplar Ave. after 55 years in business.

An email sent to customers Wednesday, Dec. 26, by the store’s owner, Evelyn Heun, said it’s “now time for me to move into another chapter of my life and enjoy time with my family.”

A closing sale started Wednesday with at least 40 percent off merchandise.

The Gift and Art Shop opened in 1957. Calls to The Gift and Art Shop were not immediately returned.

Carter Malone Group Hosts Entrepreneurship Events

The Carter Malone Group LLC is hosting three free symposiums entitled “Controlling How the Cookie Crumbles: Educating and Empowering Entrepreneurs” in the coming weeks.

The seminars start Jan. 12 at Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church at 918 Looney Ave. at 9:00 a.m. It’s designed to target women and minorities who are interested in starting a business or are new business owners.

Other dates and locations include: Jan. 26 at Bloomfield Baptist Church, 123 South Parkway; and Feb. 16 at Breath of Life Church, 3795 Frayser Raleigh Road.

Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. at all events. The program begins at 9 a.m. and ends at noon.

A $1,500 grant and other benefits will be awarded in March to the best business plan presented by the participants to help get their business started or to help them grow their business. All three events will benefit the abused women services efforts of YWCA of Greater Memphis and F.F.U.N – Freedom From Unnecessary Negatives. Participants are asked to bring an item to donate or financial contribution to one of those organizations and get free entry.

Registration is required. For more information, contact The Carter Malone Group at 278-0881 or visit www.cmgpr.com.

US New Home Sales Jump to Fastest Rate Since April 2010

Americans bought new homes last month at the fastest pace in more than two and a half years, further evidence of a sustained housing recovery.

Sales of new homes rose 4.4 percent in November from October to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 377,000, the Commerce Department said Thursday. That’s the fastest pace since April 2010, when a federal tax credit boosted sales.

New-home sales have also increased 15.3 percent over the past year. The improvement comes from depressed levels. Sales remain below the 700,000 that economists consider healthy.

Steady job gains this year and ultra-low mortgage rates have boosted sales of both newly built and previously occupied homes. More people are looking to buy or rent a home after living with relatives or friends during and immediately after the Great Recession.

Another big reason for the rebound is the excess supply of homes that were built during the housing boom has finally thinned out. Only 149,000 new homes were for sale at the end of last month, according to the report. That’s just above a record low of 143,000 in August.

Still, the market is steadily improving and that has lifted builder confidence to its highest level in 6 ½ years, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo survey released last week. The pace of home construction is nearly 22 percent higher than a year earlier, according to government data. Builders are on track this year to start work on the most homes in four years.

Home prices are also increasing. The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller national home price index released Wednesday increased 4.3 percent in October compared with a year ago. That’s the largest year-over-year increase in two and a half years. And prices rose for the 12-month period in 18 of the 20 cities tracked by the index.

Sales of previously occupied homes rose to the highest level in three years in November, the National Association of Realtors said last week.

Though new homes represent only a small portion of the housing market, they have a disproportionate impact on the economy. Each home built creates an average of three jobs for a year and generates about $90,000 in tax revenue, according to statistics from the National Association of Home Builders.

Trustee to Hold Third Real Estate Road Show

Shelby County Trustee David Lenoir is partnering with real estate information company Chandler Reports and the Community Development Council to present its third Real Estate Road Show Thursday, Jan. 3.

The Real Estate Road Show is meant to focus attention on the growing portfolio of county-owned properties – which is now approaching 4,000 parcels – as well as those currently being marketed through the Shelby County Land Bank.

Lenoir said the ultimate goal is to reduce blight and have these properties producing tax revenue for the county.

Lenoir will walk attendees through the process of acquiring properties through the tax sale. Land Bank Administrator Dawn Kinard will explain its process and goals and demonstrate the Land Bank’s free, online property mapping system.

Attendees will be able to ask questions at a Q&A panel with Lenoir, Kinard and staff attorneys.

The Real Estate Road Show is free and open to the public and comes in advance of the county’s second tax sale of the fiscal year Jan. 9 at 160 N. Main St. The Road Show could be of interest to local real estate agents, appraisers, builders, property investors, bankers and nonprofits looking for affordable property for themselves or for programming purposes.

The event will be held in the conference room at The Memphis Leadership Foundation, 1548 Poplar Ave. The 90-minute session will start at 3 p.m. Coffee, beverages and light refreshments will be provided.

Space is limited. RSVP by emailing csheffield@shelbycountytrustee.com or calling 432-4884.

Paragon Makes Donation to Mid-South Food Bank

Paragon National Bank collected $14,200 and 568 pounds of food for the Mid-South Food Bank during the fifth annual Mid-South Food Bank Student Food Drive.

The bank accepted donations from customers and employees throughout November at its Paragon Place, Fountain Place, Saddle Creek and Grove Park banking centers.

Paragon president and chief operating officer Mike Edwards and several staff members presented a check and food donations to Estella Mayhue-Greer, president and CEO of the Mid-South Food Bank, during the WMC-TV Action News 5 Holiday Food Drive earlier this month.

The Student Food Drive is a food drive conducted by Mid-South area high school students to benefit the Mid-South Food Bank.

ServiceMaster Employee Retires After 50 Years

Just before the Christmas holiday break, Frances Hill retired from Memphis-based ServiceMaster Co. after more than 50 years.

Hill’s tenure predates the movement of the companies she worked for under the ServiceMaster umbrella. Since 2002 she had been the receptionist at ServiceMaster headquarters, working as part of the corporate facilities department.

She began as a switchboard operator at what became Terminix when the company was part of E.L. Bruce Co., an oak flooring company. She stayed through the purchase of Terminix by ServiceMaster in 1986.

Hill left the company in 1999 but returned in 2002 and resumed her work greeting everyone from visitors to board members and CEOs.

Bill Anderson, ServiceMaster manager of corporate facilities and Hill’s boss, said her role at the company has been an important one with Hill remaining a constant in the company’s culture through various changes.

“You walk through our corporate headquarters and you are always greeted by her heartfelt smile,” he said. “There is not a person who has walked through those doors that she has not gone out of her way to treat special and make them feel at home.”

US Home Prices Rise in October From Previous Year

US home prices rose in most major cities in October compared with a year ago, pushed up by rising sales and a decline in the supply of available homes. Higher prices show the housing market is improving even as it moves into the more dormant fall and winter sales period.

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller national home price index released Wednesday increased 4.3 percent in October compared with a year ago. That’s the largest year-over-year increase in two and a half years, when a homebuyer tax credit temporarily boosted sales.

Prices rose in October from a year ago in 18 of 20 cities. Phoenix led all cities with a 21.7 percent gain, followed Detroit, where prices increased 10 percent. Prices declined in Chicago and New York.

Home prices fell in 12 of 20 cities in October compared with September. Monthly prices are not seasonally adjusted, so the decreases reflect the end of the peak buying season.

Still, the broader trend is encouraging. October marked the fifth straight month of year-over-year gains, after nearly two years of declines. Prices rose in mid-2010 in the final months before the tax credit expired. They had fallen sharply in 2008 and 2009.

“It is clear that the housing recovery is gaining strength,” said David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indexes.

The improvement in housing is adding to economic growth and most analysts expect that to continue in 2013.

But automatic tax increases and spending cuts that are set to take effect next week could drag down growth. The White House and Congress have so far failed to reach agreement on a way to avoid the “fiscal cliff.” President Barack Obama and congressional lawmakers will return to Washington on Thursday to resume talks.

“We expect home price appreciation to continue for the foreseeable future, because inventories are lean amid rising sales,” said Joseph LaVorgna, chief U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank. “This assumes that a resolution to the ‘fiscal cliff’ is found ... otherwise, the recent positive trend in housing would most certainly be in jeopardy along with the rest of the current economic expansion.”

Prices nationwide have recovered to about the same level as in the fall of 2003, according to the Case-Shiller index. They remain about 30 percent below the peak reached in the summer of 2006.

The S&P/Case-Shiller index covers roughly half of U.S. homes. It measures prices compared with those in January 2000 and creates a three-month moving average. The October figures are the latest available.

Solid gains in home prices have helped drive a modest recovery in the housing market. Rising prices encourage more potential buyers to come off the sidelines and purchase homes.

WKNO-TV to Broadcast Beale Street New Year’s Eve

Beale Street will be home to a New Year’s Eve celebration this Dec. 31, with an outdoor concert, the traditional Guitar Drop and fireworks at the stroke of midnight.

This New Year’s Eve theme is “Celebrate 30 Years of Resurrecting the Blues.” The ribbon cutting for the rebirth of Beale Street took place in October 1982. Since that time, Beale Street has become a globally renowned entertainment district.

The entertainment district will host 13 Mid-South bands during an eight-hour free concert to be held on a stage at Beale Street and Rufus Thomas, adjacent to the Hard Rock Cafe, where an enormous lighted guitar will descend the wall, landing to launch a fireworks display announcing the New Year.

WKNO-TV/Channel 10, will broadcast live from Beale Street beginning at 11 p.m. with coverage of the night’s festivities, including the Guitar Drop.

The concert and Guitar Drop cap an exciting two days on Beale Street. Bands, cheerleaders, and coaches from Iowa State University and the University of Tulsa will highlight the Liberty Bowl Parade at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 30. Handy Park then will be the scene of the Liberty Bowl Pep Rally at 5 p.m. that day.

At 7 p.m., the spotlight moves to FedExForum, where the University of Memphis will host Loyola of Maryland.

US Durable Goods Orders Up 0.7 Percent

U.S. companies boosted their orders in November for long-lasting manufactured goods that reflect investment plans. It was the second straight such increase, an encouraging sign for the economy.

The Commerce Department said Friday that overall orders for durable goods rose a seasonally adjusted 0.7 percent in November over October.

But a more closely watched category of orders that tracks business investment surged 2.7 percent. That followed an upwardly revised 3.2 percent jump in October, the biggest in 10 months.

Those back-to-back increases followed a period of weakness in so-called core capital goods that had raised concerns about business investment, a driving force in the economic rebound.

The overall increases in orders for durable goods were widespread in November. Only demand for commercial aircraft showed a big decline.

The surge in orders in the business investment category defied concerns that businesses might be reducing investment because of uncertainty about how the debate over the “fiscal cliff” will be resolved.

Total orders for transportation equipment dropped 1.1 percent. The decline reflected a 13.9 percent fall in commercial aircraft orders, which offset a 3.5 percent gain in orders for motor vehicles and parts.

Excluding transportation, orders for nondurable goods, items expected to last at least three years, rose to $220.9 billion. For the year, they’re up 7.3 percent.

Orders rose 3.3 percent for machinery rose, 2.4 percent for primary metals such as steel and 3.1 percent for computers.

Tupelo Touts Elvis Origins in Graceland Exhibit

Mississippi officials hope that a new Graceland exhibit about Elvis’ boyhood will draw visitors to his birthplace in Tupelo.

Tourism officials visited the exhibit, titled “Elvis’ Tupelo,” on Thursday. It showcases posters and memorabilia from every Tupelo Elvis Festival and features a movie titled “Tupelove.”

Neal McCoy, executive director of the Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau, tells WTVA-TV that he hopes the display will draw some Elvis fans from his famous Memphis home to his more humble beginnings in northeast Mississippi.

Each year, Graceland draws anywhere between 600,000 and 650,000 people a year. In comparison, the Elvis birthplace in Tupelo draws anywhere between 40,000 and 45,000 people a year.

The display is expected to continue through September 2015.

Tighter Prescription Drug Controls Taking Effect

State health officials hope a new law requiring doctors to check a database before prescribing certain drugs will help curb addiction and prevent deaths.

The state’s controlled substances monitoring database has been around for several years, but its use has not been mandatory. As of Jan. 1, doctors and others who prescribe drugs will have to be registered with the database. By April 1, they will have to start checking it every time they prescribe certain powerful drugs, with limited exceptions.

Also on Jan. 1, pharmacists will have to begin updating the database every seven days. Currently they are required to update it every 30 days.

Nucor Offers Guidance on Fourth Quarter Results

Executives of Nucor Corp., which owns a steel plant in the Frank C. Pidgeon Industrial Park, said last week they expect their fourth quarter earnings results to be lower than expected.

The guidance from the Charlotte, N.C.-based company released Tuesday, Dec. 18, is for earnings of between 25 cents and 30 cents per diluted share for the quarter ending Dec. 31.

That’s a decrease from the third quarter earnings of 35 cents a share and fourth quarter 2011 earnings of 43 cents per share.

Nucor executives said the company’s profitability decreased in the fourth quarter compared to the third quarter of this year because of lower margins in the steel business in general and a smaller inventory credit the company will take in its fourth quarter results.

The Nucor earnings results will be announced in January.

CBRE Memphis Sells $8.7 Million in Apartment Properties

Tommy Bronson III and Blake Pera with CB Richard Ellis Memphis’ Multifamily Division have sold six apartment communities totaling 693 units and $8.7 million in the past two weeks.

The duo represented Saddle Vineyards L.P. in the sale of Macon Pointe Apartments to Macon Pointe Apartments LLC for $925,000.

Macon Pointe is a 74-unit, garden-style apartment community that was constructed in 1969 in the Berclair neighborhood.

Bronson and Pera also represented Hudson Advisors in the Real Estate Owned portfolio sale of Birchleaf Place (64 units), Graceland Square (40 units) and Chambliss Village Apartments (36 units) to Saddle Vineyards L.P. for slightly more than $1 million.

All three properties are located in the West Winchester submarket near Graceland.

Meanwhile, Bronson and Pera represented the lender in the sale of Southwind, a 141-unit apartment community, and Woodland Towns, a 118-unit complex, both located in Biloxi, Miss., on Dec. 11 for $4.5 million to Woodlands Biloxi LLC.

That’s in addition to their representation of Tritex Real Estate Advisors Inc.’s $2.3 million sale of Southeast Memphis’ distressed 220-unit Foxwood Apartments community to RRE Foxwood Holdings LLC.

Regions Insurance Expands Employee Benefits Practice

Regions Insurance, an affiliate of Regions Bank, is expanding its employee benefits practice in Memphis.

Effective Jan. 1, Argyle Benefits Consultants LLC will join Regions Insurance’s Memphis office.

Argyle partners Tom Merriam and Chris Rogers, and their four associates, will join founding partner Philip Johnson as part of the expansion.

The team of agents and support professionals will continue their group employee benefits practice serving commercial clients, with a focus on benefit program assessment, creative plan design, program implementation and management.

Johnson is a founding partner of Argyle Benefits with more than 30 years of insurance industry experience. Merriam has 30 years of experience in insurance and employee benefits consulting, and Rogers has 15 years of insurance experience.

US Economy Grew at Rate of 3.1 Percent in Summer

The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 3.1 percent over the summer as exports increased, consumers spent more and state and local governments added to growth for the first time in three years. But the economy is likely slowing in the current quarter.

The Commerce Department’s third and final estimate last week of growth for the July-September quarter was revised up from its previous estimate of a 2.7 percent annual growth rate.

Growth in the third quarter was more than twice the 1.3 percent growth rate in the April-June quarter. But disruptions from Superstorm Sandy and uncertainty weighing on consumers and businesses from the “fiscal cliff” are likely holding back growth in the October-December quarter.

PROPERTY SALES 61 61 6,453
MORTGAGES 46 46 4,081
BUILDING PERMITS 113 113 15,474
BANKRUPTCIES 19 19 3,289