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VOL. 130 | NO. 222 | Friday, November 13, 2015

Dan Conaway

Dan Conaway

Billions And Billions Of Grins

By Dan Conaway

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GOOD NEWS IS GROWING. Really. I only have 500 words here and what my friend Andy Cates had to say last week is worth far more, several billion dollars worth actually, and what St. Jude had to say at the end of the week adds billions more.

Andy – managing member of Value Acquisition Fund and general partner and CEO of RVC Outdoor Destinations – made a presentation to the Memphis chapter of the professional land economics society, Lambda Alpha, giving some in attendance an admittedly in-house pat on the back for recent moving and shaking, but, at the same time, giving all of us very real reasons to feel good about ourselves.

And we should pay attention. Andy and his family have been players in – among many other things – bringing the Grizzlies to Memphis, bringing Soulsville to life, bringing Sears Crosstown back to life, and bringing all of us back to Overton Park – sometimes playing point, but always players.

His presentation was called “Memphis Rising,” an overview of recent and soon-to-be realized progress – yes, my fellow beleaguered citizens, progress – in major investment and development, in education, in fighting blight and saving neighborhoods, in tying the future of every one of us to realizing the promise of every other one of us.

Like every city, we have weeds we have to deal with – thick and gnarly and threatening to choke the growth we want – but we spend so much time down in them, tangled in the mass – we fail to see what’s rising all around us, the very weight of its potential enough to trample weeds.

Consider this alphabetical list of grins from Andy’s presentation, expressed in real dollars either already spent or committed by serious people who expect serious return:

Artesian (The Horizon), $33.5 million; Bass Pro, $200 million; Broad Avenue, $30 million; Central Station, $55 million; Chisca Hotel, $31 million; Crosstown Concourse, $202 million; Graceland/Guest House, $132 million; Harahan Bridge/Main to Main, $40 million; Ikea, $64 million; International Paper Tower 4, $115 million; Methodist UT Hospital/Le Bonheur, $480 million; Overton Square, $40 million; Shelby Farms Expansion, $70 million; Shelby Farms Greenline, $13.9 million; Tanger Outlet Mall, $97 million; Tennessee Brewery, $28 million; U of M, Campus and Highland Row, $383.2 million; UT Health Science Center, $350 million; Wolf River Greenway, $40 million.

Total, done and in the works, more than $2.4 billion.

From our suburbs to our birthplace, from our arteries to our heart, the last couple of years and the next few are changing Memphis for the better.

On that list is a $830 million transfusion for the Medical Center, $620 million restoring life to long-dead buildings and spaces, $383 million matriculating around the University of Memphis, and $164 million taking us down new pathways to our rivers and trees and each other.

Even before the week was out, St. Jude announced plans to invest $9 billion in construction, research, programs and people over the next six years. Add that to the list and the grin total tops $11 billion.

Yes, we have a lot of weeds to pull, but there’s a lot of green coming our way.

I’m a Memphian, and I’m grinning for a change.

Dan Conaway, a communication strategist and author of “I’m a Memphian,” can be reached at dan@wakesomebodyup.com.

PROPERTY SALES 97 418 8,253
MORTGAGES 112 508 9,293
BUILDING PERMITS 194 1,059 18,126
BANKRUPTCIES 46 208 5,367