VOL. 130 | NO. 205 | Wednesday, October 21, 2015
City Council Approves Hotel-Retail Development Near Shelby Show Place Arena
By Bill Dries
Memphis City Council members approved Tuesday, Oct. 20, plans to develop one of the few open parcels of land along Germantown Parkway as either a hotel with retail or two retail strips.
The Germantown Market planned development by the Debra Loskovitz Spousal Trust is on the east side of Germantown Parkway, south of Timber Creek Drive next to the Shelby Show Place Arena.
If the developers decide to build the hotel option, the hotel plan would go back to the council for approval of a special-use permit.
Developers won approval of such a plan from the council in 2007 but never followed through in the five years they had to start construction. There have been similar plans for a hotel by various developers since 1989.
At its first meeting after the 2015 Memphis elections, council members also delayed until Nov. 17 a vote on a convenience store with gas pumps on the northeast corner of A. W. Willis Avenue and Third Street.
Council members approved funding totaling $1.9 million in two resolutions Tuesday for 976 curb ramps throughout the city.
But the approval followed council member Bill Boyd accusing fellow council member Joe Brown of being a “racist.”
Council member Wanda Halbert questioned the level of minority contracting in the two appropriations.
City engineer John Cameron said both firms involved were “100 percent women-owned” firms but he couldn’t confirm initially that both were Memphis companies. After he did confirm they were local businesses, Halbert continued to question the demographic make-up of the companies.
“You know they are women, are they minority women? Does anyone know who they are?” she asked. “Hispanic women, African-American women?”
Brown said, “A WBE (women-owned business enterprise) is good. But these companies – do they actually do the work?”
Cameron said they would.
Brown’s comment prompted Boyd to say later, “Let the record show that councilman Brown is a racist. He does not want women to get the contract. They are Caucasian.”
Brown didn’t hear the comment but in both votes, he, Halbert and council member Janis Fullilove voted against the appropriations.
Halbert often questions companies that are awarded local government contracts and subcontracts as part of a renewed effort to increase participation of minority and women-owned businesses.
The effort includes more specific questions that go beyond the general categories of minority-owned businesses.
“We certainly look for women and minorities to receive an equitable piece of the pie,” Halbert said. “But there are still certain groups that are left away from the table. I wouldn’t dare think any of my colleagues were racists. … We are repeatedly seeing a segment of people not at the economic table and no one is addressing it. It’s not a racist issue. It’s an economic issue.”
Among the agenda items delayed Tuesday were two resolutions totaling $12.5 million in city funding for the move of some of the city’s General Services Division maintenance facilities. The move would relocate the facilities from the maintenance site in Overton Park to the site of the Walter Simmons public housing development at Lamar Avenue and Knight Arnold Road in southeast Memphis.
Votes on both items were delayed to the council’s Dec. 15 session.
The park’s maintenance site has been mentioned as a possible location for the Eggleston Museum, an archive of the photographic work of Memphian William Eggleston. The corner has also been mentioned as a possible place for a Memphis Zoo parking garage, although those discussions have been much more tentative.
In committee session discussions Tuesday, city General Services Division director Antonio Adams confirmed that the Memphis Housing Authority will not be among the city divisions moving to the Donnelley J. Hill office building the city purchased from the state of Tennessee in May.
The MHA, which is currently headquartered at 700 Adams Ave., had tentatively been listed as a tenant of the office building at 170 N. Main Street.
The Memphis Police Department will relocate its headquarters to the building as well as the city’s Division of Housing and Community Development, some of the city’s human resources offices and some functions of the city attorney’s office.