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VOL. 128 | NO. 37 | Friday, February 22, 2013

Daily Digest

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Carey Watermark Investors Buys Beale Hampton Inn

The new owner of the Hampton Inn & Suites Memphis-Beale Street at 175 Peabody Place Downtown, has filed a $22.5 million loan on the property after acquiring the 144-room hotel.

CWI Beale Street Hotel LLC – an affiliate of Lake Forest, Ill.-based Carey Watermark Investors Inc. – filed the leasehold deed of trust, assignment of leases and rents, security agreement and fixture filing Feb. 14 through Wells Fargo NA.

The company on Tuesday, Feb. 19, announced it had bought five hotels in the Hilton Worldwide portfolio from entities related to Fairwood Capital LLC.

In addition to buying the Hampton Inn Beale, Carey Watermark Investors bought hotels in Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama and Texas.

CWI’s total investment in the properties is “approximately $104 million, including acquisition-related costs and $64.5 million of debt,” according to a press release.

“The portfolio represents an opportunity to invest in five Hilton branded hotels that have been recently renovated and offer strong in-place cash flow,” Michael Medzigian, chief executive officer of CWI, said in a statement. “The Memphis and Atlanta properties are high quality urban assets … .”

Built in 1999, the 88,528-square-foot Hampton sits at the southwest corner of Peabody Place and South Third Street. The Shelby County Assessor’s 2012 appraisal was $12.5 million.

The transaction also includes a neighboring parking garage.

The previous owner, operating as Fairwood Investors, leased the hotel from Memphis City Center Revenue Corp. through a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports

– Daily News staff

EDGE Board Approves Several Tax Freezes This Week

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. shows up to meetings of the local economic development body that grants tax incentives to businesses pretty predictably.

That’s not to say on a regular basis, rather his appearances are predictable because they tend to coincide with votes on tax deals for businesses moving into or expanding in the core city.

And that’s what he did this week. The mayor showed up at both meetings of the Economic Development Growth Engine Board this week, at one of them praising Smucker’s decision to stay put in Memphis in exchange for a tax incentive, a deal that Wharton said shows Memphis’ commitment to essentially the heart of Memphis and its infrastructure.

On Wednesday, Feb. 20, the EDGE board approved a four-year tax freeze for Container Maintenance Corp., which is boosting employment in Memphis (where it provides intermodal-related services) by 96 workers and investing almost $4 million to expand.

Wharton praised the company for making that push, in addition to praising (along with Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell, also present) another project up for a tax freeze: International Paper Co.

Memphis-based International Paper got a 15-year tax freeze to help the company pursue a nearly $116 million expansion of its Memphis presence, which includes keeping 2,274 jobs here, creating 101 new jobs, keeping its headquarters here and building a new 235,000-square-foot, 10-story building along with a new 470-car garage and two pedestrian bridges.

On Monday, the EDGE board granted a 12-year tax freeze to the J.M. Smucker Co. so that the company would stay in Memphis and pursue a $55 million expansion.

That would save the company several million dollars in taxes, and in return the company would keep 125 jobs in Memphis.

The company’s PILOT application explains the project will retrain the company’s current remaining workforce to produce products using new machinery and technologies.

– Andy Meek

Higgs Funeral Services Set for Friday

Funeral services for Shelby County Criminal Court Judge and Memphis mayoral contender Otis Higgs will be Friday, Feb. 22, at 3:30 p.m. at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church.

Higgs died suddenly Friday, Feb. 15, after leaving the Criminal Justice Center early because he wasn’t feeling well. He died that same evening.

Higgs was 75 and was serving his second tenure as a Criminal Court judge. He was appointed by Gov. Buford Ellington to the court in 1970 and left the bench in 1975 to make the first of three bids for Memphis mayor.

Higgs was elected Criminal Court judge again in 1998 and was re-elected to a second eight-year term of office in 2006.

He also served as interim Shelby County Sheriff in 1990 following the death of Sheriff Jack Owens.

– Bill Dries

Boyle Sells Lots at Spring Creek Ranch

Boyle Investment Co. has sold 10 lots at Spring Creek Ranch to a newly formed builder group.

Construction soon will commence on the next phase of development at The Village at Spring Creek Ranch, an upscale, master-planned community off Raleigh-LaGrange Road.

The new builder group for the Village at Spring Creek Ranch includes: Marty Smith, Artisan Custom Homes; Mark McGuire and John Worley, Celtic Manor Homes; Chris Dickens, Dickens & Associates; Ryan Anderson, RKA Investments; and Ron Sklar and Scott Klazmer, Klazmer/Sklar Homes.

Boyle anticipates five to six starts in March, and the homes should be ready for occupancy by mid-summer. The lots are located within the reserve area of Collierville on the 168 acres purchased by Boyle in November from the Meyer family, which owns Spring Creek Ranch Golf Course.

The new homes will be priced from $385,000 to $425,000 and the builders are pre-selling now, with two homes already sold.

Gary Thompson, vice president of Boyle, said the 10 lots in The Village at Spring Creek Ranch represent the first group of new lots to come online in quite some time.

Boyle hopes to develop a total of 340 lots in phases over the next decade.

In addition, Boyle has 10 lots in the gated Grand Manor, which provides residents with estate-sized lots available for custom homebuilding with views of the golf course and Chinquapin Lake. Home prices in The Grand Manor range from the high $600,000s to more than $1 million.

– Sarah Baker

Raymond James Analyst Rates AutoZone a Strong Buy

A Raymond James Equity Research analyst wrote in a note to clients this week that he’s maintaining a strong buy rating on shares of AutoZone Inc. ahead of the Memphis-based auto parts retailer reporting its quarterly earnings next week.

“AutoZone possesses the headroom to achieve the fastest commercial sales growth in the sector,” wrote Raymond James analyst Dan Wewer. “Further, AZO is poised to benefit from a sector wide sales recovery that could materialize as soon as the second half of 2013.

“In our view, Zone’s quarterly results will be driven by a continuation of the gross margin expansion cycle, but partially offset by tepid sales growth and subsequent deleveraging in expense rate. As a reminder, we anticipate headwinds for the auto parts retailers to persist until 2Q13 when comparisons ease and the impact from unseasonal weather seen a year ago is diminished.”

– Andy Meek

Senate Approves Judicial Selection Amendment

The Senate has approved a proposed constitutional amendment to give lawmakers the power to refuse the governor’s appointments to appeals courts in Tennessee.

The chamber voted 29-2 on Thursday in favor of the measure sponsored by Republican Sen. Brian Kelsey of Germantown. If the resolution passes the House by a two-thirds margin, it will go on the ballot in next year’s general election.

The measure would maintain the current system for holding yes-no retention elections for Supreme Court justices and appeals judges. But it would do away with an independent nomination commission that narrows down the list of candidates for the governor to choose from.

Republican Sens. Stacey Campfield of Knoxville and Frank Niceley of Strawberry Plains voted against the measure, arguing for contested judicial elections.

– The Associated Press

PROPERTY SALES 101 250 12,619
MORTGAGES 59 185 7,940
BANKRUPTCIES 31 97 5,997