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VOL. 127 | NO. 185 | Friday, September 21, 2012

Daily Digest

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Courtyard by Marriott Owner Files $15M Loan

The company that developed and owns the Courtyard by Marriott hotel at 75 Jefferson Ave. has filed a $15 million loan on the Downtown property.

THG Jefferson LLC filed a leasehold deed of trust, security agreement, assignment of leases and fixture financing statement Sept. 18 through Trustmark National Bank in Germantown.

THG Jefferson is managed by Conrad Properties LLC, whose sole member is Gregory Averbuch, the Atlanta developer who spearheaded the development and construction of the 131-room hotel in 2009.

The 87,297-square-foot, eight-story hotel sits on 0.44 acres at the southwest corner of Jefferson and North Main Street.

Its 2012 appraisal is $8.3 million, according to the Shelby County Assessor of Property, although it is exempt from property taxes because it is under a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) program through the Center City Revenue Finance Corp.

Averbuch also developed two other nearby Downtown hotels – the Sleep Inn, built in 1996, and the SpringHill Suites by Marriott, built in 2001.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports

– Daily News staff

Manufacturing Company Wins Tax Freeze

Vanport, Pa.-based KMA Manufacturing won a tax incentive this week that will help the steel fabrication and manufacturing company add 25 new jobs and invest $1.8 million in personal property in Memphis.

The company got a four-year tax freeze for the project, which it says will create $432,026 in new tax revenue for Memphis and Shelby County. The company plans on using the capital investment and new employees to expand its Memphis operation to a new facility at 1207 Riverside Blvd.

KMA currently operates a 28,000-square-foot facility at 2270 Channel Ave. and hopes to increase its Memphis employment from nine to at least 34 with an average annual wage of $39,374.

Also this week, local economic development officials learned that Land & Timber Resources LLC, an Arkansas-based entity, is looking to purchase at least 5,000 acres on Presidents Island. The company has a letter of intent to buy the land, and the local Port Commission has tapped a committee to look into the sale.

– Andy Meek

Kroger Purchases Union Store, Seessels Family Property for $4.6M

The Kroger Delta Division has purchased the Kroger store on Union Avenue from the Seessels family, which includes the land behind the Belvedere Apartments and the strip of land behind the store, for a combined $4.6 million.

The deal follows last week’s purchase of the Belvedere Apartments for $2.6 million, bringing Kroger’s ownership of property in the area from South Idlewild Street to LeMaster Street along Union Avenue.

“Kroger is committed to the Midtown area and anticipates building a beautiful new store much larger than the present location, with ample parking, and all of the products and departments that our customers have been asking for,” Tim Brown, president of Kroger’s Delta Division, said in a statement.

The company said planning will start for a new store to be built on the site in the coming years. Steps that must happen before construction commences include meeting the new city codes, working with the Office of Planning & Development, plus razing the Belvedere Apartments to prepare the property for the new store to be built.

Memphis-based Kroger Delta Division, a division of Cincinnati-based The Kroger Co., operates 115 stores and 70 fuel centers in five states under the Kroger banner in Memphis and West Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, and Kentucky.

– Sarah Baker

Key River Lock Reopens After Emergency Fixes

Shipping resumed Thursday through one of the Mississippi River’s busiest locks, after crews completed emergency repairs that took days and that stranded hundreds of barges destined for points north or south.

By the time the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reopened Lock 27 at Granite City, just north of St. Louis, about 3:30 a.m. Thursday, the Coast Guard said the traffic jam had grown to 63 vessels and 455 barges – carrying enough cargo to fill 6,100 railcars or 26,400 large tractor-trailers.

Within a few hours of the lock being back in business, just six vessels pushing 80 barges had made it through the lock. The last of the idled barges – hauling everything from grains to coal, fertilizer and construction materials – were expected to clear that vital Mississippi River corridor in two or three days, Coast Guard Lt. Colin Fogarty said.

“While it may seem slow, it’s actually quite a good pace given the dynamic nature of the river and the pure size of the vessels,” he said.

Workers closed the lock on Saturday after discovering that a protection cell – a rock-filled steel cylinder against which barges rub to help align them for proper entry into the lock – had split open, spilling enough of the rock into the river to obstruct passage.

That damage was on an unarmored section of the vertical protection cell that the barges don’t typically make contact with because they’re often 15 to 20 feet under water. But that portion has been exposed because the river’s level has been lowered dramatically by the nation’s drought, said Mike Petersen, an Army Corps of Engineers spokesman.

The Army Corps has said the repair is temporary, and that the lock itself wasn’t damaged.

– The Associated Press

Measure of Future US Activity Falls

A measure of U.S. economic activity declined in August for the second time in three months, suggesting the economy remains weak.

The Conference Board says its index of leading indicators, designed to forecast future economic activity, dipped 0.1 percent in August after rising 0.5 percent in July and dropping 0.5 percent in June.

The weakness in August came from declines in manufacturing orders, consumer confidence and average weekly manufacturing hours. Conference Board economist Ken Goldstein says the index depicts an economy still facing significant domestic and international weakness.

Hiring has languished this year, and the unemployment rate remains elevated at 8.1 percent. U.S. manufacturing, which had helped pull the economy out of the Great Recession three years ago, has weakened. Factories have been hurt by a decline in consumer spending and slower global growth that has cut demand for exports.

The overall economy grew at an annual rate of just 1.7 percent in the April-June quarter. Many economists believe growth will stay weak in the second half of this year.

Steven Wood, chief economist at Insight Economics, said the leading indicators report suggests “economic growth over the next six to nine months should be relatively modest with little possibility of a robust rebound.”

Last week, the Federal Reserve said it would purchase $40 billion a month in mortgage-backed bonds as long as it deems necessary. The goal of the program is to stimulate the economy by making homebuying more affordable. Chairman Ben Bernanke said the Fed would keep buying the bonds until the job market improves “substantially.”

– The Associated Press

TEMA Unveils iPhone, iPad Version of Readiness App

Tennesseans can download a new app for their iPhones and iPads called ReadyTN, a preparedness program developed by the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.

The app is available through the App Store or the iTunes store. The agency said in a news release that more than 15,000 users have downloaded the Android version of the app, which has been available since February.

ReadyTN will provide location-based information on severe weather, road conditions, open shelters and local government contacts. The app also provides preparedness tips for specific hazards and checklists for emergency kits.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said in a statement that citizens are relying increasingly on their mobile devices for relevant and timely information and the ReadyTN app delivers critical tips to Tennesseans so they can be prepared.

– The Associated Press

PROPERTY SALES 23 23 1,365
MORTGAGES 21 21 1,068
BUILDING PERMITS 117 117 3,173