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VOL. 128 | NO. 2 | Thursday, January 3, 2013

Daily Digest

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Crowne Plaza Hotel Sells Out of Foreclosure

The Crowne Plaza Hotel at 300 N. Second St. Downtown sold on the Shelby County Courthouse steps Dec. 28 for $9.4 million following a foreclosure.

General Electric Real Estate Equities Inc., an entity related to the lender that foreclosed on the property last month, bought the 11-story, 244-room hotel from substitute trustees Mary Aronov and Spencer Clift of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC.

The previous owner, Genwood Memphis I LLC, had defaulted on a $17.7 million leasehold deed of trust, security agreement and fixture filing through General Electric Capital Corp. dated Aug. 17, 2007.

The company took over the lease of the hotel (formerly the Wyndham Garden Hotel) in June 2006 from LB Memphis Brownestone LLC for $12 million.

Built in 1969, the 230,654-square-foot hotel sits on 1.87 acres along the east side of North Second Street near Interstate 40. The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2012 appraisal was $6.6 million.

The property is involved in a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) agreement through the Memphis Center City Revenue Finance Corp. signed in August 1998 and running through 2031.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports

– Daily News staff

Lowery Undecided About Future on City Council

The longest-serving member of the Memphis City Council said New Year’s Day that he hasn’t yet decided if he will run for a final four-year term of office in the 2015 city elections or let his current term be his last, leaving office in 2015.

But council member Myron Lowery told a group of 200 at his 22nd annual New Year’s Day Prayer Breakfast that whichever option he picks, his son, Michell Lowery, will probably run for the Super District 9 Position 3 seat Lowery now holds.

“I can’t be there forever,” Lowery said. “My days have got to come to a close. And when it does, I’m looking for my son to step in. It may not be in three years, son.”

The younger Lowery, who like his father has worked at FedEx Corp., has also worked in his father’s campaigns including chairing his father’s unsuccessful bid for mayor in the 2009 special election.

Lowery was first elected to the council in 1991 to an at-large seat on the body. When the at-large seats were eliminated in 1995, Lowery ran for and won the super district seat he currently holds. Because he was council chairman in 2009 when then-Mayor Willie Herenton resigned, Lowery served as mayor until the results of the special election were certified.

The terms of office that began a year ago started the clock on term limits of two consecutive terms approved by Memphis voters as a city charter amendment in 2008 for all 13 seats on the Memphis City Council as well as the Memphis mayor.

– Bill Dries

First State Bank Opening Memphis Location

First State Bank is opening a new Memphis location and has hired a new team to grow the customer base and develop a branch network here.

Steve Weaver is First State’s new regional bank president for the Memphis area. Ted Miller is city president, Dana Burkett is senior vice president/loan officer and Mark Graves is a loan officer. The new team will be at 5384 Poplar Ave. in the Hobson building across from the Mercedes-Benz of Memphis dealership.

That facility currently is being renovated for First State to be able to offer both consumer and commercial lending, five teller service areas, three drive-through lanes, mortgage lending and personal banking services.

The opening is set for early February.

– Andy Meek

Public Relations Society Names Duncan Williams 'Communicator of the Year'

The Memphis chapter of the Public Relations Society of America has named Duncan F. Williams, president of Duncan-Williams Inc., as its 2013 Communicator of The Year.

The award is given to an individual for gaining public awareness for an event or effort benefiting either the city of Memphis or a local civic or philanthropic organization.

One of the nominations the Awards Committee received for Williams came from Shelby County Mayor Mark H. Luttrell Jr., who will speak and present the award to Duncan at the PRSA Memphis January luncheon Wednesday, Jan. 9, at the University Club beginning at 11:45 a.m.

The Communicator of the Year award was established in 1976. Bud Dudley, founder of the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, was the first recipient. The list of honorees includes Herman Morris, Ron Terry, Cecil Humphreys, Fred P. Gattas, Olin Morris, D’Army Bailey, Judith Drescher, Gerry House, Dr. Scott Morris, Linn Sitler, Fred Jones and Molly Meisenheimer.

– Sarah Baker

Construction Spending Dips 0.3 Percent

Spending on U.S. construction projects fell in November from October because a steep drop in volatile federal projects offset another gain in home building.

Construction spending dipped 0.3 percent in November, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. It was the first decline since March and followed a 0.7 percent increase in October, which was revised lower.

Total spending declined to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $866 billion. That is 16.1 percent above a 12-year low hit in February 2011. Even with the gain, the level of spending remained only about half of what’s considered healthy.

The November figures were dragged lower by a 5.5 percent decline in spending on federal government projects. Federal spending fluctuates sharply from month to month. In October, it rose 9.7 percent.

Spending on residential construction, however, has steadily increased over the past eight months and rose 0.4 percent in November.

Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist for Capital Economics, said the decline in construction spending was “nothing too much to worry about.”

Spending on commercial projects dropped 0.7 percent. Spending on office buildings, hotels and shopping centers declined. Overall government spending dipped 0.4 percent.

– The Associated Press

Senate Approves Four TVA Board Members

The U.S. Senate has approved four new members to the board of directors of the Tennessee Valley Authority, which will go on to the president’s desk for his signature.

The Senate on Tuesday approved the nominations of C. Peter Mahurin, of Kentucky; Vera Lynn Evans, of Tennessee; Michael McWherter, of Tennessee; and Joe H. Ritch of Alabama to fill vacancies on the nine-member board. President Barack Obama made the nominations in September.

TVA Chairman Bill Sansom was quoted on the TVA’s Twitter account as saying he was looking forward to working with the new board members.

TVA provides electricity to 9 million people in Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.

– The Associated Press

Manufacturing Expanded Slightly in December

U.S. manufacturing grew slightly last month and factory hiring increased. The modest gain suggests the economy entered the new year with some momentum.

The Institute for Supply Management said Wednesday that its index of manufacturing activity rose in December to 50.7. That’s up from a reading of 49.5 in November, which was the lowest reading since July 2009, one month after the recession ended.

A reading above 50 indicates growth, while a reading below 50 signals contraction. The ISM is a trade group of purchasing managers.

A measure of employment increased last month to 52.7. That’s up from 48.4 in November, which was the first time the employment gauge fell below 50 in three years.

Factories have cut jobs in three of the four months through November, according to government data. The jump in employment in the ISM survey suggests manufacturers may have stepped up hiring last month.

Still, a gauge of new orders was unchanged and production grew more slowly, the survey found. Manufacturers also cut back on stockpiles, a sign of concern about future demand.

“The trend in manufacturing remains weak,” Jim O’Sullivan, an economist at High Frequency Economics, said in a note to clients.

The closely watched manufacturing survey was completed before Congress reached a deal to avoid the “fiscal cliff.”

A gauge of export orders rose above 50 for the first time in six months, according to the ISM survey.

– The Associated Press

PROPERTY SALES 57 280 1,209
MORTGAGES 55 244 916
BUILDING PERMITS 158 699 2,751