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VOL. 128 | NO. 231 | Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Daily Digest

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MCA to Begin More Interior Work on Downtown Campus

The Memphis College of Art has filed a $1.5 million building permit with the city-county Office of Construction Code Enforcement for interior work on its Downtown campus, 477 S. Main St.

The permit calls for “interior finish out of fourth and fifth floors” of the 49,025-square-foot building, which the college bought in 2010 for $400,000.

Grinder-Haizlip Construction Co. is the contractor on the permit. No architect is listed.

The Memphis College of Art in April 2010 filed a $2.2 million permit for the first phase of renovating the building, where the college houses its graduate school.

MCA at the time said it would spend about $3 million on the purchase and renovation of the building, slated to house everything from classrooms to studios to gallery space for graduate faculty and students.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports

– Daily News staff

UPS, Monogram Foods Set to Expand

Two companies with major local operations have won tax freezes for proposed expansions.

The board of the Economic Development Growth Engine of Memphis and Shelby County has approved payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreements for United Parcel Service and Memphis-based Monogram Foods. The two expansions are expected to add 40 new jobs between them.

UPS was awarded an 11-year PILOT for its plan to invest around $80 million to expand its existing facility at Memphis International Airport by 140,000 square feet. The expansion, which EDGE said would bring in $1.62 in new taxes for every $1 abated, is expected to create 15 new jobs.

Monogram Foods was awarded an eight-year PILOT for its plan to move to a new headquarters at 530 Oak Court Drive in East Memphis.

The $2.1 million project, which EDGE said would produce $1.98 in new tax revenue for every $1 abated, is expected to create 25 new jobs.

– Amos Maki

Orpheum’s Latest Auction Most Successful Yet

The Orpheum Theatre’s 35th Annual Auction this month was the theater’s most successful auction in the history of the event.

According to The Orpheum, the fundraiser brought in more than $330,000 through auctions, sponsorships and ticket sales, and an additional $72,600 through a raffle.

All proceeds benefit the Orpheum’s new Centre for Performing Arts, scheduled to break ground in early 2014.

The $14.5 million facility will offer advanced performing arts education programs.

– Andy Meek

6 Candidates Pull Qualifying Petitions on Opening Day

Three Republican incumbents and three Shelby County Commission hopefuls were the first six candidates to pull petitions on the opening day of the candidate filing season for the 2014 county elections.

The incumbents with petitions out on opening day were Probate Court Clerk Paul Boyd, Shelby County Clerk Wayne Mashburn and Juvenile Court Clerk Joy Touliatos.

Shelby County Commission candidates pulling petitions were Colonel Gene Billingsley in District 7, David C. Bradford in District 2 and Van Turner in District 12. The county commission’s district structure changes for the 2014 county elections to 13 single-member districts. The commission is currently a body of 13 with five districts: one single-member district and four districts with three commissioners each.

The deadline for candidates to file their petitions for the county ballot is Feb. 20. Election day for the county primaries is May 6, with the county general election on Aug. 7.

– Bill Dries

Haslam Holds Final Public Budget Hearing Monday

Gov. Bill Haslam is wrapping up his annual budget hearings as he prepares to assemble his annual spending proposal.

The Republican governor was expected to hear from the Tennessee Department of Transportation at the state Capitol on Monday.

Haslam has warned that much of the modest growth in state revenues will be consumed by cost increases in TennCare, the state’s expanded Medicaid program.

The governor has asked all departments to present potential spending cuts because of the state’s sluggish economic performance.

The state’s annual transportation budget is about $1.8 billion. The state makes up about 44 percent of that funding, largely from fuel taxes.

– The Associated Press

Mississippi Lawmakers Eye Internet Gambling

Mississippi lawmakers are watching Tuesday’s launch of Internet gambling in New Jersey.

House Gaming Committee Chairman Richard Bennett, R-Long Beach, told the Sun Herald in Biloxi that hearings and discussions on Internet gambling are planned during Mississippi’s 2014 legislative session.

However, he predicted no action, saying he’d rather let Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware – the three states where Internet gambling is legal – work things out.

“I don’t believe we’re going to have anything come out on it this session,” Bennett said. “It’s just too early right now,” he said.

But Bennett said he doesn’t plan to wait for long. And when lawmakers do act, Bennett said he wants to license only companies that own casinos in Mississippi to provide Internet gambling.

State Rep. Bobby Moak, a Bogue Chitto Democrat and longtime gambling legislation point man, introduced Internet gambling legislation the last two years and says he plans to try again in 2014.

“You have to take some risk,” he said.

Moak said Internet gambling will give the casinos and state treasury a boost.

Some websites claim online wagering is already legal in Mississippi because state legislation doesn’t specifically ban it. But Allen Godfrey, executive director of the state Gaming Commission, said those claims are wrong.

“Internet gambling is not a legal thing in Mississippi,” he said.

Internet gambling in New Jersey isn’t restricted to residents, but a gambler must be in the state to wager and must be a club member of a New Jersey casino.

– The Associated Press

Contracts for US Homes Fall for Fifth Month

The number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes fell in October for the fifth straight month. Higher mortgage rates, price increases and the 16-day government shutdown held back sales.

The National Association of Realtors said Monday that its seasonally adjusted pending home sales index dipped 0.6 percent to 102.1. That’s the lowest level since December. September’s reading was revised slightly higher to 102.7.

There is generally a one- to two-month lag between a signed contract and a completed sale. The drop suggests final sales will remain weak in the coming months.

The Realtors’ group said the shutdown prevented the IRS from verifying incomes, a critical part of the mortgage-approval process. The group said that 17 percent of Realtors reported delays.

Sales may rebound a bit in November as purchases delayed by the shutdown are completed. But sales are not expected to pick up much after that.

“The recovery in home sales has clearly at least stalled,” said Jim O’Sullivan, chief U.S. economist with High Frequency Economics, a forecasting firm. “With other data showing the recovery in the labor market still on track, and confidence moving up again, we expect home sales to start trending up again in coming months.”

A limited supply of homes has pushed up prices in the past year. Prices of existing homes jumped 12 percent in September from the previous year, according to real estate data provider CoreLogic.

Signed contracts fell sharply in the West, where investors have snapped up foreclosed homes and bid up prices in the past year. Signed contracts also slipped in the South, another area hit hard during the crisis. But contracts rose last month in the Northeast and Midwest.

Mortgage rates have eased but remain nearly a point higher than they were in the spring. The average rate on a 30-year mortgage fell to 4.22 percent last week from 4.35 percent the week before. That’s down from a peak in August of nearly 4.6 percent and still low by historical standards.

– The Associated Press

PROPERTY SALES 101 603 9,602
MORTGAGES 92 538 10,616
BUILDING PERMITS 215 1,282 20,958
BANKRUPTCIES 51 408 6,108