VOL. 130 | NO. 226 | Thursday, November 19, 2015
Council OKs Raleigh Springs Mall Conversion, Again
The Memphis City Council on Tuesday, Nov. 17, approved – for the second time in a year and a half – the plan to turn the Raleigh Springs Mall into a “town center” with a city library branch, new police precinct and the Memphis Police Department’s traffic precinct.
The second approval followed a public hearing that was also a repeat of an earlier process, all of it voided when Circuit Court Judge James Russell rejected the city’s attempt to take several parcels of the mall property by eminent domain. Russell ruled the city’s move was premature.
The city has refiled its motion to take the parcels that constitute the mall itself as well as the anchor stores by eminent domain. The city has already bought other properties in the mall footprint.
Memphis Mayor-elect Jim Strickland has said he will determine whether his administration will pursue the mall conversion after he takes office Jan. 1.
In other planning and development matters, the council brought back to life plans for retail on the northeast corner of Summer Avenue and Graham Street that it rejected earlier this year.
The August rejection was brought back up for reconsideration Tuesday after developers dropped plans for a laundromat, which prompted opposition from neighbors this summer.
Council members are scheduled to vote on the amended item at their Dec. 1 meeting.
The council also approved the Massey Green 14-lot single family development at West Massey Road and Massey Estates Cove, and a rental car service facility on the west side of Airways Boulevard in the airport buyout area.
And the council approved a Cambria Hotel and Suites between 267 Union Ave. and 285 Union Ave. on what is now open land. The hotel will be a four-story structure with 161 rooms.
– Bill Dries
Tigers’ Alan Cross Semifinalist For Top Walk-On Award
University of Memphis tight end Alan Cross has been selected as one of 10 semifinalists for the 2015 Burlsworth Trophy.
The award, named for 1994 Arkansas walk-on Brandon Burlsworth, is given to the nation’s most outstanding football player who began his career as a walk-on.
Cross originally walked on at Memphis as a long snapper, but converted to tight end and now has 40 starts at that position. After seeing solid playing time in each of his first two seasons and being named to the 2012 Conference USA All-Freshman Team, Cross came on even more in his junior year. He finished the season with 28 catches for 343 yards and was chosen 2014 AAC All-Conference First Team. He is currently the all-time touchdown leader for tight ends at Memphis and is on the Mackey Award Midseason Watch List.
Fans can vote for their favorite player via the “Greater” Fan Vote that concludes Sunday, Nov. 22, at midnight. The fan vote only accounts for a portion of the decision-making toward the eventual award winner. Voting can be accessed at burlsworthtrophy.com and will begin with the top 10 semifinalists and continue as the selection committee announces the top three Burlsworth Trophy finalists Tuesday, Nov. 24.
Finalists will be honored and the winner of the 2015 Burlsworth Trophy announced Dec. 7 at a banquet in Springdale, Ark., sponsored by the Springdale Rotary Club.
Burlsworth, whose life is the subject of the upcoming major motion picture “Greater,” walked on to the Arkansas Razorbacks squad in 1994, worked his way to being a three-year starter and was eventually named an All-American in 1998.
He was selected as the 63rd overall pick by the Indianapolis Colts in the 1999 NFL draft, but died in a car accident 11 days later. The Burlsworth Foundation was created in his memory and supports the physical and spiritual needs of children, in particular those children who have limited opportunities.
– Don Wade
Tanger Outlets Opens Southaven Mall
Tanger Outlets, Southaven’s new outdoor mall, will cut the ribbon at its grand opening Friday, Nov. 20, at 10 a.m.
Several local leaders will speak at the event, including Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, Sens. Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker, U.S. Rep. Trent Kelly and Southaven Mayor Darren Musselwhite. Steven Tanger, CEO and president of Tanger Outlets, and Josh Poag, CEO and president of Memphis-based Poag Shopping Centers, also will be on hand.
Many of the outlet stores will be offering discounts and a roundup of holiday activities are planned for the weekend, including a design presentation with Chip and Joanna Gaines from the HGTV show “Fixer Upper.” A holiday music festival featuring regional bands and fireworks will take place Sunday, Nov. 22, from noon to 8 p.m.
– Madeline Faber
After 156 Years in Memphis, Oak Hall to Open in Nashville
Upscale local retailer Oak Hall is opening a new store in Nashville.
The store is the brand’s first expansion outside of Memphis, where it has operated since 1859.
The Nashville shop will open in 2,000 square feet in March, and will expand to encompass 10,000 square feet in 2017. It will be located in the Hill Center development in Nashville’s Green Hills neighborhood.
The Levy family, who owns and operates Oak Hall, also owns and operates a Vineyard Vines store in Nashville’s Hill Center, as well as Vineyard Vines locations in Memphis and Birmingham.
– Jane A. Donahoe
Metal Museum Hosts Holiday Events
This weekend will kick off the holiday season at the Metal Museum. Running from Saturday, Nov. 21, to Jan. 3, the Museum Holiday Store will feature one-of-a-kind gifts and ornaments made by Metal Museum artists.
A reception for the unveiling of the museum’s limited edition holiday ornament will be Sunday, Nov. 22, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
The store will be open for extended shopping hours on Dec. 3, 10 and 17 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
All events will take place at 374 Metal Museum Drive.
– Madeline Faber
Commissioners Override Veto Of Legal Counsel Resolution
With a vote to spare Wednesday, Nov. 18, Shelby County commissioners overrode county Mayor Mark Luttrell’s veto of their resolution to hire their own legal counsel.
The 9-3 veto override vote during a special meeting of the body followed a debate about whether the commission can and should hire its own attorney.
Luttrell and county attorney Ross Dyer contend the county charter bars the commission from doing what the Memphis City Council did in the mid-1990s.
Commissioners who favor the veto override argue that having legal counsel separate from the county attorney’s office is legal and necessary for the independence of the body. The county attorney is appointed by the mayor.
“This is about making sure we can keep the balance of power and the legislative branch can act independently,” commissioner Heidi Shafer said.
Commissioner Mark Billingsley argued that the position was not well-defined and the job should have been posted. He also expressed doubts about hiring former Shelby County Commissioner Julian Bolton for the position.
“What you do is risk putting a 14th county commissioner on the body,” he said. “If you do that, you are basically asking a fish not to swim.”
Luttrell or the commission could take the issue to Chancery Court in a lawsuit.
Luttrell indicated in a letter to commissioners after the veto override that he will not approve or facilitate the hiring of Bolton.
– Bill Dries
Gus’s Chicken Named Regional Finalist in Competition
Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken has been named as a regional finalist for the Best Bite Award in the inaugural US Foods Food Fanatics Awards.
Memphis-based Gus’s was chosen from nearly 1,000 entries and recognized for its 24-hour-marinated, hot and spicy fried chicken.
The Food Fanatics Awards are designed to honor people in the food and restaurant business who have an “epic love for the industry.” After receiving nearly 1,000 submissions, the entries were narrowed by regions for all six creative categories: Best Bite, Culinary Genius, Big Heart, Hero, Epic Turnaround and Top Crew.
Criteria for evaluation included food fanaticism, creativity and positive participation in the food service and restaurant industry.
– Andy Meek