Brewery Developers Buy Key Property on Butler

The team behind the development of the historic Tennessee Brewery has acquired a key piece of property adjacent to the long-vacant structure as plans for the new Brewery Revival series of events there move forward.

The development team, operating as 495 Tennessee LLC, purchased the vacant lot at 11 Butler Ave. from BCH Investments LLC for $1.25 million, according to a Feb. 23 warranty deed.

The 1.6-acre slice of vacant land is key to the development team’s effort to save the 125-year-old brewery building at 495 Tennessee St. Developer Billy Orgel and his team plan to build a new, 90-unit apartment building on the site that will essentially subsidize the adaptive reuse of the old brewery.

The $23 million project includes approximately 148 residential units – 58 in the brewery building and 90 in a new six-story building to be built on the Butler lot – about 8,000 square feet of commercial space and a 280-space public parking garage.

The castle-like brewery opened in 1890 and made the Memphis-based Goldcrest 51 beer label, a popular regional brand for years, but the structure has been vacant since the 1953.

The development team of Orgel, Adam Slovis, Jason Wexler and Jay Lindy stepped in last year to save the brewery from the wrecking ball.

After years of trying to find a developer willing to take on the project – proposals over the years included hotels and condominiums – the previous owners announced last year they were considering demolishing the landmark brick and cast-iron building overlooking the Mississippi River.

Following last summer’s successful month-long Brewery Untapped event, which activated the long-vacant space with a beer garden, music, food trucks and other activities, Orgel and his partners acquired the property in November for $825,000.

The team is planning another temporary activation event this spring called Brewery Revival and was granted a beer permit from the city of Memphis this week.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports

– Amos Maki

Gestalt Renews Plans for Hickory Hill School

A new Power Center Academy middle school in Hickory Hill near or on the footprint of the old Marina Cove Apartments moved a step closer to reality with Gestalt Community Schools applying for a $7 million building permit to build a 40,147-square-foot middle school at 5449 Winchester Road.

A project contractor has not been determined, according to the application filed with the city-county Office of Construction Code Enforcement.

The charter school company currently operates the Power Center Academy at 6120 Winchester Road.

The Marina Cove apartments were demolished by the city in October 2010 after standing vacant for years.

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. drove a bulldozer into a stairway of one of the 54 buildings in the complex to mark the occasion and signal the redevelopment was a priority of his administration.

The Power Center Community Development Corp. bought an adjoining 19-acre parcel for $182,400 from Boston Capital Corporate Fund in 2010. With the apartment complex site and that additional land, CDC had plans to develop a town center that would have included retail, some residential and a performing arts center.

The new Power Center Academy, by those plans, would have been the development’s first phase and was to open in 2012, financed with money from private donors and grants.

Gestalt also operates charter schools at Humes Prep and Klondike Prep for the state-run Achievement School District and is among the tenants to come of the Crosstown Concourse redevelopment project that formally began construction Saturday, Feb. 21.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports

– Bill Dries

UT Initials Added to Methodist University

Starting this week, the University of Tennessee initials will appear on a Memphis hospital for the first time since 2004.

A bright orange “UT” will be added to new exterior signage at Methodist University Hospital, and the hospital will be referred to as Methodist UT Hospital in recognition of the partnership between the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and the Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare system. The new signage above the hospital’s main entrance and its new emergency department entrance were set to be unveiled on Wednesday.

"Placing the UT initials on the Downtown Methodist hospital building and reframing the name as Methodist UT Hospital reflects the convergence of the UTHSC and Methodist missions and visions," UTHSC chancellor Dr. Steve Schwab told The Daily News. "More than 300 physicians are currently in training in Methodist facilities, and since our partnership began, more than 1,865 medical and surgical specialists have been trained in these locations. Methodist UT and Le Bonheur Children's Hospital (also) are core teaching hospitals of UTHSC along with five other core teaching partners across the state.”

Methodist UT Hospital is also home to UT Methodist Physicians, an academic physician practice group created in 2013 as an outgrowth of the partnership between the university and the hospital.

– Andy Meek

Drop in Robberies Prompts Major Violent Crimes Drop

A double-digit percentage drop in robberies in Memphis and Shelby County in the first month of 2015 led to a 2 percent drop in major violent crimes for January in Shelby County and a 1.7 percent drop in Memphis compared to January of 2014.

The January statistics from the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission showed a 15.5 percent drop countywide in robberies compared to a year ago and a 13.8 percent drop in robberies from a year ago in Memphis.

In other major violent crime categories tracked as part of Operation Safe Community, aggravated assaults increased 7.8 percent from January of 2014 in Shelby County and 7.8 percent in Memphis by the same comparison.

Meanwhile, major property crimes in Shelby County were down 7.4 percent compared to a year ago and down 3.4 percent in Memphis from January of 2014.

Operation Safe Community is the coalition of law enforcement and criminal justice agencies that banded together in 2006 to pursue a specific crime fighting strategy that included moving police officers and other law enforcement resources to statistical hot spots for crime as patterns of crime changed.

As a result 2006 is considered the baseline year for the crime statistics countywide and in Memphis.

By that standard, Shelby County major violent crime is down 29.2 percent and Memphis major violent crime is down 24.6 percent from 2006.

Major property crime in Shelby County since 2006 is down by 38.3 percent and down in Memphis by 34.9 percent over the same period.

– Bill Dries

FedEx Supply Chain Seeks $5.2M Permit

FedEx Supply Chain Services is preparing to make improvements to a large southeast Memphis warehouse.

FedEx Supply Chain Services has applied for a $5.2 million building permit through the city-county Office of Construction Code Enforcement to make improvements to an employee entrance at 6005 Freeport Road, a 547,216-square-foot industrial building. Metro Construction LLC is listed as the contractor on the application.

Exeter Property Group acquired the Freeport property and three other Memphis facilities in 2014 as part of a broader 4.4 million square-foot, $132 million portfolio transaction with special service LNR Property LLC.

The four Memphis buildings included in the sale are the 625,000-square-foot building at5200 Transportation Drive occupied 100 percent by Trane, the building at 6005 Freeport, the 600,000-square-foot building at 3399 E. Raines Road occupied 100 percent by Philips Electronics North America and the 337,655-square-foot building at 4550 Swinnea Drive occupied partially by Ingram Micro.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports

– Amos Maki

City Makes First Schools Case Payment

The city of Memphis has made the first installment of its payment plan with Shelby County Schools to settle the lawsuit over the Memphis City Council’s 2008 decision to cut city funding to what was then Memphis City Schools.

The $8 million check dated Feb. 10 starts a series of payments and credits over 15 years totaling $41.8 million. The cash part of the settlement total $28 million with the remaining $20 million to be paid at $1.3 million a year.

The judgment the school system won in Chancery Court, which was upheld on appeal, was $57 million. But a city counterclaim for capital funding the school system claimed it was owed delayed the payment and set up the negotiations that led to several attempts at a compromise and court-supervised mediation.

– Bill Dries

Tennessee Opposes Sysco-US Foods Merger

The state of Tennessee has joined nine other states and the Federal Trade Commission in opposing the proposed merger of Sysco and US Foods.

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery, in announcing the state’s participation in seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction barring the merger, specifically cited the impact of the merger in Memphis.

Slatery estimates a Sysco-US Foods merger would leave one food service distribute controlling 81 percent of the distributor market in Memphis.

“This would have an obvious and adverse effect on businesses and consumers in the Memphis area,” Slatery said in a written statement Thursday, Feb. 19.

The complaint, filed last week by the 10 state and the Federal Trade Commission, estimates the Memphis market would be the seventh most impacted market of 32 local markets it alleges would be harmed in terms of competition if the merger goes through as proposed by the two companies.

Sysco and US Foods are the largest “broadline” food service distributors in the country which means they have extensive product lines of both national brands and private labels. They also offer independent restaurants flexible deliveries that are also frequent and handle order tracking as well as menu planning.

– Bill Dries

Regional One Health Foundation Adds to Board

Regional One Health Foundation has added five new members to its board of directors.

They represent a range of industries that span farming, security, credit unions and insurance.

The new members are Dillard Door and Entrance Control president and CEO Christopher Bird; Regions Insurance of Tennessee president and CEO Mark Forrester; Jefferson Mortuary owner/operator Preston Jefferson; Bowdre Place/Owen Family Farming Partners managing partner Norman Davis Owen Sr.; and Orion Federal Credit Union president and CEO Daniel Weickenand.

– Andy Meek

Rhodes College Honored by Princeton Review

Rhodes College has made The Princeton Review’s “Colleges That Pay You Back,” a list of a little more than 200 schools recognized for addressing two concerns of college applicants and their parents: paying for college and employment after graduation.

The schools also were ranked in certain individual categories, and Rhodes came in at number seven in the “Top 25 Schools for Internship Opportunities.”

Along those lines, about 60 percent of Rhodes students participate in internships. The college also has partnered with more than 100 local, national and international employers to provide academic internships. There also are opportunities for paid internships and on-campus internships through the Rhodes Students Associate Program.

– Andy Meek

Greater Memphis Chamber Promotes Ernest Strickland

Ernest Strickland has been promoted to vice president of international & business partnerships for the Greater Memphis Chamber, effective immediately.

In that capacity, Strickland will oversee the Chamber’s Councils, including International, Manufacturing and Logistics.

Strickland will be charged with continuing to grow the Chamber’s International Development program with renewed interest in attracting business opportunities for Memphis from China. Strickland has been with the chamber for eight years, serving in a variety of roles, most recently as director of economic development, with emphasis on international business.

“Since joining the chamber, Ernest has had the opportunity to experience this organization from many angles – from sales to workforce development,” said Phil Trenary, chamber president & CEO. “With this perspective, Ernest truly understands the objectives and needs of our membership. He will be able to align our three councils with consistent goals and messaging, while at the same time strengthening the overall program.”

A native Memphian and father of four children, Strickland holds a bachelor’s degree in Professional Studies from the University of Memphis and a master’s degree from Bethel University’s Executive MBA program.

– Don Wade

Vendor Seeks Permit for Target Distribution Center

A third-party vendor has applied for a $1.2 million building permit to build out Target’s planned Memphis online fulfillment center.

Innotrac, which will manage the Southeast Memphis facility for Target, applied for the permit through the city-county Office of Construction Code Enforcement. Memphis-based construction contractor Dan Walker Associates Inc. is listed as the contractor on the application, which says the work is for “new tenant space renovations.”

Target will turn the 900,000-square-foot building at 5461 Davidson Road into an online fulfillment center that will employ 462 people and service the entire Southeast U.S.

In December, Target was awarded a 15-year tax break for the project, which will support the Minneapolis-based retailer’s booming online business. The incentive would save Target around $12 million over 15 years while producing a local tax benefit of $27.2 million, according to the city-county Economic Development Growth Engine.

In January, Innotrac applied for a $42 million building permit for the project.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports

– Amos Maki

Emily Ballew Neff Named Brooks Museum Director

The Board of Trustees of the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art has voted unanimously to name Emily Ballew Neff as the museum’s executive director.

Neff currently serves as the President of the Association of Art Museum Curators (AAMC) and served nearly two decades as the first Curator of American Painting and Sculpture at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. She established a significant presence for the museum in the field of American art, growing the museum’s collections by more than 30 percent, organizing more than 20 exhibitions at the museum and coordinating 14 traveling exhibitions from other institutions.

Neff organized several major exhibitions while in Houston including the award-winning American Adversaries: West and Copley in a Transatlantic World, which received praise for its innovative approach to exhibiting colonial American art in a global context, and The Modern West: American Landscapes, 1890-1950, a show of more than 100 paintings and photographs that examined the relationship between the American West and modernism.

Recognized for her scholarly work which has pushed the field of American art in new and innovative directions, Neff authored “Frederic Remington: The Hogg Brothers Collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston,” the first major catalog to document this historically important collection and the Hogg family patron who created it.

Neff most recently served as the director and chief curator of the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma, where she worked in close partnership with its museum boards, the Norman community and the university foundation.

– Don Wade

Georgia Investors Buys Southeast Memphis Hotel

A Georgia-based investor has purchased a Southeast Memphis hotel for $1 million.

The Inn at American Way LLC, operating in care of Atlanta-based businessman Amish Patel, bought the Home One hotel at 4300 American Way from Motel 6 Operating LP, according to a Feb. 10 warranty deed.

Located on American Way near Cherry Road, the former Studio 6 hotel was built in 1987 and totals 48,437 square feet. At 121 rooms, the purchase price of the hotel breaks down to roughly $8,264 per unit. The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2014 appraisal is nearly $1.3 million.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports

– Amos Maki

Wright Medical Reports Strong Sales, Declining Loss

Memphis-based orthopedic company Wright Medical Group Inc. reported strong sales during the fourth quarter and a declining net loss compared to fourth quarter 2013, with the company’s president and CEO Robert Palmisano saying the results were helped in part by the company’s fast-accelerating U.S. foot and ankle business.

The company’s net loss dropped to $107 million during the quarter from $135.2 million during the year-ago period. Net sales were up more than 20 percent, to $83.3 million during the quarter.

Palmisano said the results included robust sales force productivity, with the company achieving a goal of exiting 2014 at more than $1 million per sales representative.

“Gross margins of 77.1 percent were also strong,” Palmisano said in a statement accompanying the earnings results. “Our U.S. foot and ankle business grew 39 percent, up significantly from 28 percent in the third quarter of this year.”

Looking ahead, he added that the company’s 2015 standalone guidance assumes continued strong growth in its U.S. foot and ankle and international businesses. The company’s upper extremity and biologics businesses are expected to remain soft, though the company thinks that will be addressed by Wright’s pending merger with medical device company Tornier and anticipated final FDA approval of Wright’s “AUGMENT Bone Graft” product.

Wright Medical noted a second-quarter 2015 closing date for the Tornier merger was “is still possible, but is a best-case scenario.”

– Andy Meek

U of M Football to Host Ole Miss Rebels in October

The University of Memphis football team’s 2015 schedule includes an early road game at Big 12 member Kansas and an Oct. 17 home game vs. the University of Mississippi.

It will mark the Rebels’ first visit to Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium since 2009.

The Tigers open the 2015 season at home against Missouri State on Sept. 5. Following the opener, the Tigers travel to Kansas (Sept. 12) and Bowling Green (Sept. 19).

Following three nonconference games to open the year, Memphis will play its earliest league opener since 2010 when the Tigers play host to Cincinnati on Thursday, Sept. 24, in a game nationally televised by ESPN.

The Tigers will play another non-Saturday game the next week when they travel to the University of South Florida on Friday, Oct. 2.

Unlike recent years in which Memphis has enjoyed two open weeks, the 2015 season has just one bye week which comes ahead of the Ole Miss game on Oct. 17. Starting with the Ole Miss game, Memphis will play seven straight weeks.

Memphis’ only back-to-back home games will come Oct. 31 against Tulane followed by the program’s first-ever meeting against the Naval Academy on Nov. 7. Memphis plays seven of the same conference opponents it played in 2014 during the 2015 season. The only difference is the addition of Navy which replaces UConn from the previous two seasons on the 2015 schedule.

Over the final weeks of the season, Memphis will play consecutive road games at Houston and Temple on Nov. 14 and 21. The Tigers close out the regular season the Saturday following Thanksgiving, playing host to SMU on Nov. 28.

– Don Wade

Shelby County Schools Begins Open Enrollment

Shelby County Schools officials launched the school system’s open enrollment, or General Choice Transfers period, Tuesday, Feb. 24.

The online process is separate from the Optional Schools enrollment process which involves specific academic criteria.

The General Choice Transfers are available in schools that have room for students who don’t live in the attendance zone for a given school.

Applications can be made through a portal on the school system’s website, The application period runs through April 3.

Students who already attend a school based on a General Choice Transfer do not have to reapply as long as the school they attend remains part of Shelby County Schools in the 2015-2016 school year.

Of the 147 schools in Shelby County Schools, 75 have little to no space for additional students.

– Bill Dries

Magna Bank Reports 2014 Earnings

Magna Bank earned net income of $5.1 million for the year ended Dec. 31 – the highest annual earnings since the company was founded in 1999, the bank announced this week.

Among the results for the year, loans were up 6.1 percent to $442 million. Deposits likewise rose $43.1 million, a 12.2 percent increase over the prior year. Capital retained in the bank for future growth totaled $68.8 million at year end, ensuring Magna is well capitalized as determined by federal regulations.

According to Magna chairman and CEO Kirk Bailey, the bank also paid out cash dividends of $1.5 million to shareholders during 2014.

Looking ahead, Magna’s chief financial officer David Wadlington expects pressure on margins but says the bank has developed plans, “including line-of-business modifications and cost containment strategies, to support core earnings improvement.”

– Andy Meek

Tigers’ Nichols Named AAC Player of the Week

Austin Nichols is recovering well enough from his ankle injury that his performance has earned recognition from the American Athletic Conference.

Nichols, a sophomore forward, was named the AAC’s Players of the Week after averaging 18 points, 7.5 rebounds and five blocks in victories over Connecticut and USF. Nichols is second in the nation in blocked shots with 3.5 per game. Nichols leads the Tigers in scoring with 13.7 points per game.

Memphis is 12-4 overall, 9-5 in the conference. SMU — which is ranked No. 21 in the country and is 22-5 and 13-2 atop the AAC — comes to FedExForum for an 8 p.m. game on Thursday, Feb. 26. The game will be televised on ESPN2.

– Don Wade

Belly Acres Marching for MIFA’s Meals

Belly Acres owner Ben McLean is getting ready to step it up for MIFA’s March for Meals campaign, a month-long effort to raise funds and awareness for the nonprofit organization’s Meals on Wheels program. During March, McLean is soliciting pledges to MIFA for every step he takes in his FitBen Challenge step-a-thon.

To kick off the challenge, Breakaway Running has given McLean a pair of shoes and a VivoFit pedometer to track his steps. Donations and pledges will be accepted starting March 1 at both Belly Acres and Lettuce Eat, as well as online at

Walkers, runners, and philanthropists are invited to join McLean in the FitBen Challenge. Participants may record their March steps to raise donations for Memphis area senior hunger. Registration is online at and in person at Breakaway Running on Overton Square. From February 22 to 28, Breakaway Running will offer a 10 percent discount on VivoFits to everyone participating in the FitBen Challenge.

McLean is planning several events during the challenge, including a St. Patrick’s Day walk from Belly Acres in midtown to Lettuce Eat in Germantown. There will also be a wrap-up party at Belly Acres on Tuesday, March 31.

Nearly 3,700 Shelby County seniors are food insecure. With the help of up to 100 volunteers each weekday, MIFA provides over 1,200 hot, nutritious lunches for seniors in their homes and at congregate meal sites. To volunteer to deliver meals, call (901) 529-4513 or sign up online at

– Don Wade

10th Annual Nonprofit Conference to be April 30

Registration is open for the 10th Annual Alliance for Nonprofit Excellence Conference, to be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday, April 30.

The event will be held at Temple Israel, 1375 E. Massey Road. Early Bird registration is $99 by April 1 for members. After April 1, members pay $120; non-members and walk-up registrants, $160; college students with valid ID, $50.

Lindsay Austin Louie, program officer of the Hewlett Foundation’s Effective Philanthropy Group, will serve as the keynote speaker.

Featured speakers include Lissette Rodriguez, managing director for Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, and Bill Schambra, director of the Hudston Institute’s Bradley Center for Philanthropy and Civic Renewal.

Phil Trenary, president and CEO of Greater Memphis Chamber, will be the luncheon speaker.

For more information, call 901-684-6605, email or visit

– Don Wade

First Tennessee Bank Wins Technology Award

First Tennessee Bank has been named by consulting firm Frost & Sullivan as a winner of the 2015 Best in Class CIO Impact Award in the category of enterprise architecture.

Winners of the 2015 CIO Impact Awards are recognized for "enabling breakthrough new business models and strategies through the innovative use of transformative technologies." First Tennessee got the award for using software from Cicero Inc. – a provider of activity intelligence and improvement software for use in back offices and contact centers – to deliver a “Customer Contact Center Desktop” for the bank’s customer service operations.

That system provides a unified desktop for contact center employees for high usage customer service functions. According to Bruce Livesay, chief information officer for First Tennessee parent company First Horizon National Corp., the “Customer Contact Center Desktop” allows the bank to spend more time interacting with customers instead of navigating various back-end systems.

– Andy Meek