VOL. 130 | NO. 109 | Friday, June 5, 2015
Design Review Board OKs Universal Life Redevelopment
Developers of the Universal Life building have cleared a key regulatory hurdle.
The Downtown Memphis Commission’s Design Review Board on Wednesday, June 3, approved architects Jimmie Tucker and Juan Self’s plans to redevelop the historic property at Danny Thomas Boulevard and Linden Avenue.
Self and Tucker, principals of Self-Tucker Architects, intend to develop 25,482 square feet of leasable space, including the two floors and part of the basement, in a $6.2 million project.
The Universal Life Insurance Co. and the building played large roles in the black community for decades.
Built in 1949, the two-story building was the headquarters of Universal Life Insurance Co., which was launched in 1923 and grew into one of the largest black-owned life insurance companies in the U.S. Founded and headed by J.E. Walker, the company also was a pillar of the local African-American community in the era of racial segregation by law.
Self-Tucker is seeking to restore the building to its former glory, including the iconic neon sign at Danny Thomas and Linden.
The Egyptian Revival-style building at 480 and 504 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. has been vacant since 2001. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.
The project, which stalled during the recession, has received a 10-year tax freeze and a $300,000 development loan through other wings of the DMC.
Self-Tucker Architects will lease 20 percent of the space for its new offices, and the remainder will be available for other tenants. The largest tenant in the building will likely be the city’s Renaissance Business Center, which is supposed to serve as a “one-stop-shop” development agency for small and minority-owned businesses, and plans on leasing 13,000 square feet there.
– Amos Maki
Memphis Library Foundation Crowdfunds for Cloud901
This week, the Memphis Library Foundation launched its first crowdfunding campaign to raise $10,000 for needed equipment in its new teen learning lab Cloud901, opening this fall.
Thanks to donors Jack and Sandra Jones, that $10,000 will be doubled, with their commitment to match up to $10,000.
Crowdfunding is an attempt to fund a project from a large group of people, with the idea of building momentum from those most likely to donate first, before promoting to the masses. The MLF kicked off the campaign Monday, June 1, through the crowdfunding platform RocketHub, reaching 34 percent of their $10,000 goal in less than 24 hours, by just 18 funders.
According to a Forbes magazine contributing writer, “the crowdfunding economy grew to over $5.1 billion in 2013.” While there are many platforms to crowdfund, there are pros and cons to all, including most being an “all or none,” meaning if the goal isn’t reached the project doesn’t get the funds.
That is not the case with the platform RocketHub. The average gift through most crowdfunding platforms is under $100. The Forbes article goes on to say that trust is the major challenge.
Advocate Andre Fowlkes, president of Start Co., shared on Facebook with a message to friends saying, “Give our teens something to do that can contribute to changing our city. Tired of seeing them on the news; give them the opportunity to create rather than destroy. Every dollar counts.”
“Our advocates believe in this project and thanks to their donations and sharing, we expect momentum to continue allowing us to surpass our original goal,” said MLF executive director Diane Jalfon.
The crowd-funding campaign is entitled “Cloud901; a free/safe space for teens to learn and create,” and available at www.rockethub.com/57677. For more about Cloud901, visit www.memphislibraryfoundation.org.
– Don Wade
Williams-Sonoma to Raise $30 Million for St. Jude
The retailer Williams-Sonoma Inc. is in the midst of a pledge to raise $30 million within the next 10 years for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
The company raised $3.9 million for St. Jude last year during the 2014 St. Jude Thanks and Giving campaign, with those funds serving as part of Williams-Sonoma’s first year of the new $30 million pledge.
The company included more than 500,000 donations from customers at the time of purchase, special St. Jude-designated product sales where a portion of the sale was donated, plus employee and company donations.
The past year’s campaign marked the 10th year of Williams-Sonoma’s partnership with St. Jude, during which it’s raised more than $29 million for the hospital.
– Andy Meek
Arlington and Lakeland Ballots Take Shape
With less than two weeks to the June 18 filing deadline for candidates, the Sept. 17 ballots for Arlington and Lakeland elections are taking shape.
Arlington Mayor Mike Wissman is seeking a second, four-year term and as of Thursday, June 4, was unopposed with no potential challenger pulling a qualifying petition.
In the three alderman races, Larry Harmon Jr. has filed for the position 1 seat held by incumbent Glen Bascom, who has not pulled a petition. Brian Groves, who ran for mayor four years ago, has a petition out for Position 1.
Incumbent Position 2 alderman Gerald McGee faces a challenge from Donald Lee Mills.
And Position 3 incumbent Jeffrey McKee has a challenger in Harry Spore III.
In Arlington school board races, incumbents Barbara Fletcher and Kay Williams, the chairwoman of the board, are unopposed to date.
In Lakeland, no candidates had filed through Thursday for the two commission seats and two school board seats on the ballot there.
But Joshua Roman and Paul Vandiver have pulled petitions in what is a single race for the two commission seats in which voters select two names and the top two vote getters claim the commission positions.
In the school board race, incumbent Teresa Henry has pulled a petition and so has newcomer Geoffrey Hicks.
– Bill Dries
Collierville School Board To Meet Friday on School Plan
The Collierville school board meets Friday, June 5, in special session to hear a report on the need for a new comprehensive high school for the suburban school system and consider moving toward the purchase of a site for the school.
The 1 p.m. meeting is at the Collierville Town Hall, 500 Poplar View Parkway.
Any recommendation from the board would go to Collierville’s Mayor and Board of Alderman for funding approval.
– Bill Dries
Memphis PRSA Accepting VOX Award Entries
The Memphis Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America today announced it has opened the entry period for the 22nd VOX Awards. VOX, Latin for voice, is PRSA Memphis’ annual awards event that highlights the work of communications industry professionals across the Mid-South.
Professionals from all business sectors – including agencies, corporations, nonprofit organizations, small businesses, media and freelancers – are invited to submit their best campaigns and tactics for consideration. Entries must feature work produced and used in 2014, and the majority of work must be created and overseen in the Mid-South/Memphis metropolitan area.
“The annual VOX Awards provide a way to highlight the talented work created by our local industry peers,” said Jonathan Lyons, 2015 PRSA Memphis president. “Mid-South professionals, agencies and individuals alike, are producing incredible campaigns for a wide range of clients. As a chapter, we encourage communicators from all industries to enter and be acknowledged.”
Entries will be accepted at The Booksellers of Laurelwood with an early bird deadline on July 1; a regular entry deadline on July 8; and a late deadline of July 13. Information about award categories, entry guidelines and submission details can be found at prsavox.com.
Membership in PRSA is not required to enter. The 2015 VOX Awards ceremony date and location will be announced soon. Sponsorship opportunities are also available.
– Don Wade