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VOL. 7 | NO. 40 | Saturday, September 27, 2014

Daily Digest

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Stonebridge Crossing Sells for $29.8 Million

The Stonebridge Crossing apartment complex in Cordova has traded hands.

Independence Realty Trust, a Philadelphia-based real estate investment trust focused on apartment communities and operating as IRT Stonebridge Crossing Apartments Owner LLC, acquired the massive apartment community from AB Merion Stonebridge LLC for $29.8 million, according to a Sept. 11 special warranty deed.

The 500-unit complex, built in 1994 and 1995, sits on three parcels totaling 32.8 acres on the south side of U.S. 64 between Fletcher Trace Parkway and Berryhill Road. As of Sept. 7, the occupancy of the property was 95 percent and it had an average effective rent per unit of $707.

The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2014 combined appraisal of the parcels is $21.9 million.

Terminix Acquires Quebec Pest Control Provider

The day after it announced leadership for its international division, Memphis-based Terminix announced it has acquired Groupe Cameron of Quebec, Canada.

No terms were disclosed. Groupe Cameron was founded in 1962 and much of its business is in the commercial sector, including agri-food and pharmaceuticals. The operation has five branches that serve the Quebec area and eastern Ontario.

Terminix bought two other Canadian companies in 2013 – Magical Pest Control of Toronto and Care Pest and Wildlife Control in Vancouver.

Groupe Cameron is Terminix’s entry into the Quebec market.

Terminix is part of the Memphis-based ServiceMaster Co., which includes a range of commercial and residential services.

MentorMe Accepted into Points of Light Accelerator

MentorMe, a startup from Memphis that provides cloud mentoring software, has been accepted into the Points of Light Civic Accelerator.

The accelerator is a national startup accelerator focused only on investing in civic ventures – any enterprise that inspires, equips and mobilizes people to create positive change.

MentorMe graduated from Start Co.’s Seed Hatchery accelerator in spring 2013 and officially launched its mentoring platform in January. Already using its program are organizations like the Greater Memphis Chamber, the Memphis Grizzlies Charitable Foundation and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, among others.

Sergeant’s Pet Care Closing Memphis Operations

Sergeant's Pet Care Products will close its Memphis distribution facility and shift those operations to Omaha, Neb., according to press reports.

Sergeant’s will shift around 60 jobs from Memphis to a 350,000-square-foot warehouse and distribution center under construction now in the Omaha area, according to the Omaha World-Herald.

The Omaha, Neb.-based company said it is relocating the Memphis operations to be closer to other Sergeant facilities and to take advantage of tax savings.

“Being closer to Sergeant’s two primary production facilities in Omaha and Kansas City (Kan.) provides significant freight savings,” the company said in a statement to the World-Herald. “Being near Sergeant’s management offices allows for better utilization of resources and improved support from management.”

Sergeant’s had been operating in 150,000 square feet at 4366 Malone Road in Southeast Memphis near Memphis International Airport. That building, built in 1979, is owned by Cobalt Industries REIT II, and the Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2014 appraisal is $2.54 million.

City Files $1.2 Million Permit to Renovate Planetarium

The city of Memphis has applied for a $1.2 million building permit to renovate the Lida Gammill Sharpe Planetarium at the Pink Palace Museum.

The permit, filed through the city-county Office of Construction Code Enforcement, calls for a range of work, including replacing equipment, flooring, lighting and seats, and adjusting the heating and air conditioning system. The contractor is to be determined, according to the application.

The Sharpe Planetarium closed Sept. 15 and will remain closed through next spring as the work is underway. When it is complete, the planetarium will include a full-dome digital theater that will immerse visitors in imagery and sound, according to the Memphis Pink Palace Family of Museums website.

The Memphis City Council in August appropriated $750,000 for the work.

The planetarium renovation comes a few months after another major project for the Memphis Pink Palace Family of Museums, which is operated by the city’s Division of Parks and Neighborhoods and Memphis Museums Inc. Earlier this year, the 19-year-old IMAX theater was overhauled, creating the Crew Training International 3D Giant Theater.

Tennessee Unemployment Rises to 7.4 Percent

Tennessee’s unemployment rate ticked slightly higher in August from its level in July, while remaining a percentage point lower than August 2013.

The state preliminary unemployment rate for August was 7.4 percent, up from the 7.1 percent July revised rate, according to Tennessee Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Burns Phillips.

The U.S. preliminary rate for August was 6.1 percent, down from 6.2 percent in July.

Over the past year, Tennessee's unemployment rate decreased from 8.4 percent to 7.4 percent while the national rate declined from 7.2 percent to 6.1 percent.

Total nonfarm employment increased by 6,700 jobs from July to August. The largest increases occurred in accommodation/food services, administrative/support/waste services and durable goods manufacturing.

Over the year, nonfarm employment increased by 59,000 jobs. The largest increases occurred in professional/business services, leisure/hospitality and trade/transportation/utilities.

The biggest losses were in the public sector, where government employment is down 6.7 percent compared to August 2013. The only other sectors to post losses were information and education services, which were both down 1.3 percent when compared to last August.

International Paper Seeks Permit for Crosswalk

International Paper is preparing to move forward with an exterior crosswalk connecting its new office tower to the company’s existing campus.

International Paper applied Monday, Sept. 22 for a $2.75 million building permit through the city-county Office of Construction Code Enforcement for the crosswalk that would span International Drive and connect the new office building at 1760 International Dr. to the Memphis-based company’s East Memphis world headquarters, which is located on Poplar Avenue just east of West Massey Road.

In 2013, International Paper reached a long-term build-to-suit lease with Highwoods Properties Inc. for the development of the nine-story, $56.1 million office building, which is expected to be completed by the end of the second quarter next year.

Memphis Grizzlies to Host Tip-Off Luncheon Oct. 27

The Memphis Grizzlies’ 13th Annual Tip-Off Luncheon, presented by First Tennessee Bank, will be Oct. 27 from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at FedExForum.

Players and coaches will be in attendance, and fans will have the opportunity to hear an insider’s perspective on the upcoming season from head coach Dave Joerger, general manager Chris Wallace and president of business operations Jason Wexler.

Luncheon attendees will have the chance to take part in the silent and live auctions held throughout the event, featuring unique memorabilia and one-of-a-kind fan experiences. The team store will also be open.

Individual tickets are $65, with tables of 10 available for $550. For $2,250, fans can purchase a table that will allow them to sit and talk hoops with a Grizzlies player, coach or executive. All proceeds benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Doors open at 11 a.m., followed by the event program and lunch from 11:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. For further information, visit grizzlies.com or call the Grizzlies registration line at 205-1206.

Tribe Boycotts FedEx Over Redskins Mascot

The Osage Nation in Oklahoma is boycotting the global shipping company FedEx because of its relationship with the Washington Redskins football team.

The directive issued Tuesday by Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear says that until the name of the NFL team is changed to something "less inflammatory and insulting," tribal employees should refrain from using FedEx when an alternative is available.

The team plays at FedEx Field in Washington D.C.'s Maryland suburbs.

Some human rights groups and lawmakers are urging team ownership to change the mascot, calling it derogatory to American Indians.

A FedEx spokesman said the company is following the "difference of opinion" concerning the team name, but directed questions about the name to the franchise owner.

A team spokesman did not immediately return a message seeking comment Wednesday.

Mississippi Casino Revenue Falls in August

Mississippi casino revenue fell in August, with performance continuing to diverge between coastal and river regions.

State Department of Revenue figures show casinos statewide won $175 million from gamblers in August, down 2 percent from $179 million in August 2013.

The 12 coastal casinos won $94.1 million, up 5 percent from August 2013. The 17 river casinos won $81 million, down 9 percent over the year.

It's the 23rd month out of 26 that casinos have won less from gamblers compared to the previous year. Coastal casinos are performing much better, though, with revenue rising slightly over the last 12 months. August was the last full month for Biloxi's Margaritaville Casino & Restaurant, which closed Sept. 15.

The numbers exclude Choctaw Indian casinos, which don't report winnings to the state.

Century Center Land Sold for $1.5 Million

A group affiliated with Memphis-based Boyle Investment Co. has sold a large chunk of vacant land on Whitten Road near Interstate 40.

Whitten Partnership Ltd., acting in care of Boyle, sold a 12-acre site to Windsor at Century Center 1598 LLC for $1.5 million, according to a Sept. 19 warranty deed filing.

The tract of land, which has a listed address of 0 Century Center Cove, is bordered by I-40, Whitten Road, Century Center Road and Century Center Cove. The land is zoned commercial mixed-use. The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2014 appraisal is $1.7 million.

Launched in 1990, Boyle’s Century Center is a 150-acre mixed-use development with current zoning allowing 500,000 square feet of retail and 1 million square feet of office, showroom, distribution and retail square footage. Regions Bank, Allenburg Cotton, Accredo and Bellevue Baptist Church have invested in the area, according to Boyle’s website.

Melting Pot Interested in Memphis Return

The Melting Pot fondue restaurant is looking to come back into the Memphis market a month after its restaurant across Germantown Parkway from Wolfchase Galleria closed in August.

The company has named Memphis as a target for future franchise development. The chain is amenable to reopening the shuttered location with the right franchisee partner or at a new site in the market, according to the company.

Currently, The Melting Pot has three Tennessee restaurants. Melting Pot president Mike Lester said the chain has seen a strong interest in its brand in Memphis and is looking forward to bringing back its experience to the community.

All 82 Grizzlies Games to Be Televised Locally

The Memphis Grizzlies announced that SportSouth will televise a franchise-high 81 games during the 2014-15 regular season. Combined with one nationally televised game, the Grizzlies’ entire 82-game regular season schedule will be available on local television.

Memphis will tip off the regular season on SportSouth against 2014 No. 1 overall draft pick Andrew Wiggins and the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday, Oct. 29, at 7 p.m. at FedExForum.

Play-by-play broadcaster Pete Pranica returns for his 11th season as the television voice of the Grizzlies, joining analysts Brevin Knight and Sean Tuohy. Rob Fischer enters his eighth season as the sideline reporter and new Grizzlies LIVE! Pre and Postgame host for all Grizzlies telecasts.

All 82 Grizzlies regular season games will also be carried live on 92.9 FM ESPN Radio and will feature play-by-play announcer Eric Hasseltine and analyst Hank McDowell. Coverage begins with the pregame show 30 minutes prior to tip-off.

West Clinic Recognized for Quality Care

The West Clinic has received National Committee for Quality Assurance recognition as a Patient-Centered Specialty Practice for its responsiveness to patients and medical colleagues, cooperation and integration with other health care groups, and dedication to continuous improvement.

As of August, The West Clinic is the only hematology/oncology practice in Tennessee and only one of four nationwide to attain Level 3 Recognition, the highest awarded by the NCQA. Earning NCQA recognition shows that The West Clinic has undergone a rigorous review of its capabilities and is committed to communication, coordination and providing access to care.

The West Clinic met or exceeded national standards for: communicating with primary care clinicians to exchange key information and establish coordinated care plans; providing timely access to care and clinical advice based on patient need; using a systematic approach to track referrals and coordinate care; and measuring and improving performance over time.

Violent Crime Rises in Shelby County

Major violent crime in Memphis was up 7.7 percent from January through August compared to the same period a year ago, according to the Memphis-Shelby County Crime Commission.

The statistics released Friday, Sept. 19, show an 8.1 percent increase in major violent crime countywide, including the city of Memphis, from the same time in 2013.

The numbers show an increase in murder, forcible rapes, aggravated assaults and robberies began in March.

Countywide, murders over the eight-month period increased 9 percent countywide, aggravated assaults increased 8.8 percent, robbery increased 6.9 percent, and forcible rapes increased 3.4 percent.

Within Memphis, murders increased 10.5 percent and forcible rapes increased 8.8 percent. Aggravated assaults in the city were up 8.1 percent from a year ago, and robberies were up 6.5 percent.

Domestic violence crime by the same measure decreased by 7.8 percent in the city and 7.2 percent countywide from a year ago, while major property crimes were down 4.3 percent in Memphis and 4.7 percent countywide.

The Crime Commission and Operation Safe Community, the coalition of law enforcement and criminal justice system leaders, also measures crime statistics since 2006 when the coalition first began its concerted effort.

Since 2006, major violent crime across all four of the offenses is down 17.3 percent countywide and down 12.9 percent in Memphis.

Legal Opening Briefs in FedEx Case Due Dec. 3

As Memphis-based FedEx is in the midst of what is expected to be another record peak holiday shipping season, the company’s outside legal team will be filing key briefs in federal criminal court in San Francisco.

Opening briefs in the company's illegal online pharmacy shipping case are due Dec. 3, according to court filings. Responsive briefs are due Jan. 21 and reply briefs are due Feb. 4. FedEx retained counsel with Arguedas, Cassman & Headley LLP and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom LLP.

FedEx is facing charges that it knowingly and systematically shipped prescription drugs from illegal online pharmacies.

FedEx, which denies wrongdoing and has vowed to fight the charges, could face a fine of up to $1.6 billion, double the amount prosecutors allege the company earned from shipping the medications.

FuelFilm to Launch ‘Take One Weekend’

The filmmaking-focused nonprofit FuelFilm is preparing to host a “48 Hour Launch”-style event for filmmakers the group is calling its Take One Weekend.

The event, in cooperation with MEMFix, will happen Oct. 10-12 and will invite the community to come together to help create five short films in 48 hours. On Oct. 10, filmmakers and potential filmmakers will gather in the Edge neighborhood and take the stage at 656 Marshall Ave., pitching a film idea to everyone present.

Ideas will be voted on, and the five films with the most votes will be green-lit to start shooting. FuelFilm will encourage filmmakers to create films and craft stories especially fitting for the Edge.

On Monday, Sept. 29, and Oct. 6, at 5:45 p.m., historians, storytellers and history buffs will gather at Kudzu’s, 603 Monroe Ave., to share information about the Edge neighborhood with potential filmmakers, and FuelFilm will help filmmakers craft their pitches in advance of the event.

Dixon’s ‘Art on Fire’ Happening Oct. 25

The Dixon Gallery and Gardens on Oct. 25 is hosting its biggest night of the year.

“Art on Fire” is the Dixon’s fall party that includes a bonfire, food, live music, a silent auction and more. Now in its fifth year, “Art on Fire” will include live entertainment from fire dancers Beyond Wings, performance artist Eli Gold and music by the Bluff City Backsliders, Grace Askew and drumming group Kindred Spirit.

The night also will feature live painting by artist Danny Broadway, in addition to other surprise acts.

A variety of area restaurants also are taking part in the event. Tickets are $60 for Dixon members and $75 for nonmembers.

Tactical Magic Tapped for New Bank Branding

Memphis-based branding agency Tactical Magic was recently tapped to develop a brand strategy for a newly created banking institution, Sterling National Bank, formed as a result of two New York-based banks merging.

Instead of choosing a rebranding specialist from available agencies in New York, where Sterling Bank is based, Sterling senior vice president and chief marketing officer Suzanne Copeland brought in Tactical Magic because she was familiar with the agency’s work and thought Tactical Magic managing partner Trace Hallowell’s strengths would fit what Sterling was looking for.

In addition to developing a brand strategy, Tactical Magic created a new logo for the combined banking institutions, as well as an identity system and a strategic support plan for the new brand.

US New-Home Sales Soar in August

U.S. sales of new homes surged in August, led by a wave of buying in the West and Northeast.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that new-home sales climbed 18 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 504,000. The report also revised up the July sales rate to 427,000 from 412,000.

Newly constructed homes sold at the fastest clip since May 2008. It's a clear sign of improvement for a real estate market that has been muddled in recent months, as the rebound in sales following the housing bust began to slow.

Sales of new homes are up 33 percent over the past 12 months. Median prices for new homes have risen nearly 8 percent during the same period to $275,600.

"All is not perfect in the housing market but things are certainly better today than they were about one year ago," said Dan Greenhaus, chief strategist at BTIG brokerage.

In the West, August purchases of new homes soared 50 percent compared to the prior month. Off the sharp August increase, sales in the West have nearly doubled in the past 12 months.

Former U of M Golfer Earns LPGA Card

Not only did Marissa Steen earn her LPGA Tour card for finishing in the top 10 of the Symetra Tour, the Road to the LPGA, but she was named Symetra Player of the Year. Steen played at the University of Memphis from 2008 to 2012.

The West Chester, Ohio, native has dominated the Symetra Tour this year with 10 finishes in the top 10. Steen will become the first University of Memphis graduate to play on the LPGA Tour. She played three times on the LPGA Tour this year and qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open.

As Symetra Player of the Year, Steen wins $3,500 plus a $1,000 donation in her name to the charity of her choice. Steen will be making her donation to the Lupus Foundation of America, a charity that is near to her family. Steen’s mom, Kathy, was diagnosed with lupus two years ago.

Survey: Teacher Support for Common Core Drops

A recent survey shows support for Tennessee's Common Core standards is decreasing among teachers, even though advocates, including business leaders, say they're needed to prepare students for college and to compete in a global workforce.

The Tennessean reports the 2014 survey released Wednesday was done by the Tennessee Consortium on Research, Evaluation and Development, a group led by Vanderbilt University's Peabody College of Education and Human Development.

According to the survey, 39 percent of the 27,000 Tennessee teachers who responded to it believe that teaching to the standards will improve student learning, compared with 60 percent who said the same in a similar survey last year.

It also found 56 percent of respondents want to abandon the standards, while 13 percent would prefer to delay their implementation. Only 31 percent want to proceed. The 2013 survey did not ask questions in that area.

Dale Ballou, a Vanderbilt professor and director of the consortium, said there's no explanation for the decreasing support.

"It's a lot of different factors that seem to be playing into this," he said. "The one thing I would caution people against is jumping to the conclusion that this means now that teachers are actually trying it, they're discovering that it doesn't work."

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RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 86 374 7,749
MORTGAGES 89 414 9,199
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 9 52 1,358
BUILDING PERMITS 197 1,007 16,607
BANKRUPTCIES 45 279 5,406
BUSINESS LICENSES 28 154 2,948
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 139 3,250
MARRIAGE LICENSES 30 128 1,688

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