VOL. 9 | NO. 49 | Saturday, December 3, 2016
The Memphis News Almanac
December 2-8, 2016: This week in Memphis history
By Bill Dries
(Memphis News File/Bill Dries)
2014: Black Lives Matter “die-in” march and protest on Beale Street draws a group of 50 protesters by the district’s Christmas tree at Beale and Rufus Thomas Boulevard.
1986: The Daily News marks its 100th anniversary with a party at The Peabody hotel that features columnist Louis Rukeyser. It is also the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty, and Rukeyser decries some of the commercialism and corporate sponsorship surrounding the renovation of the monument.
Also on the front page of The Daily News, the Center City Revenue Finance Corp. approves the first step in a $23.5 million refinancing of the bond issue for the Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza convention center hotel. The representative of insurers of the bonds tells the CCRFC board that the hotel has performed “poorly” since the bonds were issued in 1983 and hasn’t even covered its operating expenses.
The insurer, American Municipal Bond Assurance Corp., gets involved to the tune of $2.5 million in funding shortfalls with the newly formed Plaza Hotel Co. managing the hotel for AMBAC. Chattanooga developer Franklin Haney remains as a limited partner but is out as a full partner. And at this point, it’s not clear if the hotel will remain a Holiday Inns operation. Ultimately, it does not. Haney, a major political contributor mostly to Democratic candidates, including several presidents, but also to some Republicans and a candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor, has defaulted on the twice-a-year interest payments.
The Crowne Plaza is one of several convention center hotels Haney convinced local elected officials to finance with bonds at below-market interest rates. But when the Knoxville-based Butcher family banks collapsed in 1983 and Congress changed laws to limit tax-exempt financing, Haney’s company defaulted on a total of $163 million in bonds, including the ones on the Crowne Plaza.