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VOL. 129 | NO. 2 | Friday, January 3, 2014

Daily Digest

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Mid-South Food Bank Files $1.6 Million Loan

Mid-South Food Bank has filed a $1.6 million on its newly acquired property at 3834 Knight Road in Oakhaven.

The nonprofit organization, which was founded in 1981 to fight hunger in the area, filed the loan Dec. 23 through First Tennessee Bank NA. It had paid $3.6 million for the 122,496-square-foot warehouse, whose address is listed by the Shelby County Assessor of Property as 3865 S. Perkins Road.

Mid-South Food Bank bought the Class A facility in a Nov. 18 special warranty deed from a Bethesda, Md.-based entity called 198-6 Memphis Industrial Portfolio Holdings LLC.

That company had acquired the property as part of a larger portfolio purchase in a 2006 substitute trustee’s deed.

Built in 1992, the warehouse sits on 5.5 acres along the east side of Knight Road north of its intersection with South Perkins Road. The special warranty deed lists an alternate address of 3865 S. Perkins Road.

The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2013 appraisal was $2.3 million.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports

– Daily News staff

Fox Takes Helm of Transit Authority

With the end of 2014, Tom Fox has become interim president and general manager of the Memphis Area Transit Authority.

Fox, who had been deputy general manager of the city’s bus system, took the reins of the transit authority New Year’s Day, when the retirement of MATA president and general manager William Hudson took effect.

Hudson had been head of the transit authority since 1993.

The city of Memphis is undertaking a national search for a new president and general manager.

– Bill Dries

French Quarter Inn Sells for $1.9 Million

The long-vacant French Quarter Inn on Madison Avenue near Overton Square has been sold for $1.9 million, according to property records.

California-based NCE Realty and Capital Group LLC closed Dec. 31 on the purchase of the 105-room inn at the northeast corner of Madison Avenue and Cooper Street.

The shuttered hotel at 2144 Madison Ave. is adjacent to the revived Overton Square, where Loeb Properties Inc. has pumped around $20 million into a major redevelopment of the arts and entertainment district.

The hotel, which opened in 1984, was purchased by Donald W. Pemberton, Ron Kirkpatrick, Garnett Murphy, Rex Amonette and Carroll Brunthaver after it closed in 2008. The ownership group, called FQI LLC, bought the property for $1 million in 2009. The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2013 appraisal at $1.5 million.

The sale comes after a previous deal collapsed in October. Austin, Texas-based ASC Management had until Oct. 31 to close on the purchase of the property but did not complete the sale.

In 2012, a contract from two local partners to transform the 77,866-square-foot structure into a Comfort Suites fell through after it faced fierce opposition from neighbors who wanted a more upscale, boutique hotel.

– Amos Maki

Plough Foundation Hosts Breakfast on Elder Abuse

The Plough Foundation is holding a community breakfast Jan. 8 to address mistreatment and abuse of the elderly.

The series follows an exclusive study the foundation commissioned that found a variety of social and economic data about the elderly in Shelby County. Plough Foundation executive director Mike Carpenter said the elderly are vulnerable, for example, to being victimized because of factors such as diminished physical capacity and mobility.

The event will be at the Holiday Inn University of Memphis starting at 8 a.m.

– Andy Meek

Reaves Files for County Commission

Shelby County Schools board member David Reaves has filed to run for the District 3 Shelby County Commission seat.

Reaves becomes the first candidate for the commission to file his petition. He will be running in the Republican primary for the seat held by Chris Thomas.

Thomas, who was hired as Lakeland city manager in December, has said he will serve the remainder of his term on the commission but will not seek re-election in 2014.

Those running for the commission are running in a new set of single-member districts that replace the existing structure of four multi-member districts and one single-member district.

Meanwhile, former Germantown alderman Mark Billingsley has a qualifying petition out for the Republican primary for commission District 4. Other prospective candidates in District 4 with petitions out are Republican Ron Fittes and Democrat Jacqueline Jackson.

And Cynthia Gentry, who had earlier pulled a petition for the Democratic primary for Juvenile Court clerk, has pulled a petition for the Democratic primary for Probate Court clerk.

Candidates in the nonjudicial county races have until noon Feb. 20 to file their qualifying petitions for the May 6 county primaries.

– Bill Dries

Tennessee Prevailing Wage Law Rescinded as of Jan. 1

As of Jan. 1, most government building projects in Tennessee no longer have to pay the prevailing wage.

WPLN-FM reports Tennessee’s prevailing wage law was in place for nearly four decades before the General Assembly voted to repeal it last year. The idea behind the law was to make sure every electrician or plumber hired on a government-funded project got paid the going rate.

Sen. Jack Johnson, a Franklin Republican, sponsored the repeal. He said the law stifled competition and made building projects too expensive.

With the change, local governments can choose to have contractors pay a wage that’s roughly average, but they don’t have to. The prevailing wage still has to be paid on highway projects in order for the state to receive federal highway funds.

– The Associated Press

Unemployment Benefit Claims Drop to 339,000

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits dipped 2,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 339,000, evidence that layoffs are low and hiring will likely remain steady.

The Labor Department said Thursday that the less volatile four-week average rose 8,500 to 357,250.

The average was driven up in recent weeks by spikes that reflected seasonal volatility around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. The government struggles to account for seasonal hiring by retailers and other businesses and for temporary layoffs of school employees during the holidays.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs. They appear to have stabilized near pre-recession levels and are at a level consistent with solid hiring.

The job market has picked up in recent months. Employers have added an average of 200,000 jobs a month from August through November. That’s helped lower the unemployment rate to a five-year low of 7 percent.

Still, nearly 4.5 million people received some form of unemployment benefits in the week ending Dec. 14, the latest data available. That’s 180,000 more than the previous week.

Of those recipients, about 1.3 million stand to lose their benefits this month, according to the National Employment Law Project, an advocacy group. That’s because Congress opted not to renew an emergency federal program, which provided up to 47 weeks of additional benefits.

– The Associated Press

Average Mortgage Rate Rises to 4.53 Percent

Average U.S. rates for fixed mortgages edged higher this week for the third straight week but remained low by historical standards.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average for the 30-year loan rose to 4.53 percent from 4.48 percent last week. The average for the 15-year loan increased to 3.55 percent from 3.52 percent.

Mortgage rates peaked in August at 4.6 percent amid expectations the Federal Reserve would reduce its $85 billion a month in bond purchases. The purchases push mortgage and other long-term rates lower.

Mortgage rates are sharply higher than they were a year ago when the 30-year fixed rate was 3.35 percent and the 15-year was 2.65 percent. That’s contributed to a decline in home sales over the past three months.

– The Associated Press

PROPERTY SALES 100 375 3,773
MORTGAGES 63 202 2,481
BUILDING PERMITS 392 651 8,607
BANKRUPTCIES 38 117 2,021