VOL. 131 | NO. 51 | Friday, March 11, 2016
Last Word: Mudslide, The Deannexation Storm and Kilzer at Calvary
By Bill Dries
Lots of news on a very rainy day including the flooding from the constant rain that closed some schools and cancelled a lot of other events. And then there was a mudslide on Riverside Drive from the bluff overlooking Tom Lee Park and the Mississippi River. The rain has also pushed the Wolf River to the point that it is now over some parts of the greenway in Germantown.
After briefing reporters Thursday on the city’s response to the rain, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland got to the political storm to our east in Nashville. That’s where the Tennessee Legislature is getting close enough to a possible vote on a deannexation proposal that Strickland has declared the defeat of the proposal the city’s top priority in the capitol.
This is a test of the new administration’s early effort to engage state leaders more in what is nothing less than a hostile environment for the city’s interests on a wide variety of issues.
But there is local support for the emerging deannexation proposal which is still fluid in its details.
The bills – House and Senate – have five cosponsors within Shelby County’s legislative delegation, four Republicans and one Democrat.
And the possibility of a move toward city and county government consolidation to checkmate a deannexation law has heightened the local debate along familiar and volatile political lines.
It gets more complex beyond that with Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey reminding all involved that residents who might get a deannexation referendum passed under the terms of a new state law would still be paying a share of the city’s bond debt for the time they lived in the city.
While Strickland was circling the city’s wagons, someone on another floor at City Hall – the fifth floor, where the council offices are – sent an email with the slate of committee sessions the council has next Tuesday.
With it came a curious item about selling the old Police Headquarters building at 128 Adams Ave.
And in the council documents cache for the Tuesday council day were more documents detailing an offer NCE Realty and Capital made in the last days of the Wharton administration to buy the property for $1.1 million.
NCE is the company that briefly proposed a Hotel Overton for Madison and Cooper in Overton Square before selling the property to Ballet Memphis. And in January, the company bought two parcels on prime Riverside Drive real estate.
John Kilzer is a master observer of life in his music and his ministry. He was at Calvary Episcopal Church this week for the annual Lenten Preaching Series to tell his own story. And we talked over waffles about something you don’t see too often in the unstable world of music – a resurgent career in which the artist’s message is closer to home and just as vivid as it was in his youth.
We’ve got links to the music and the preaching with the story.
You may have seen our recent item about the purchase of the Blair Tower apartment building in the Medical Center. The apartments are about to undergo a $4 million renovation of the 208 units there.
The apartments are small and the current rents modest which makes the details of the renovation and what it does to rents another chapter in an important civic discussion. The discussion is about balancing such investments with the goals of bringing young professionals into these newly thriving areas.
On that note, the average rent in Memphis jumped 9 percent from February to March.
The Medical District has a forming master plan that includes more housing in the boundaries with Blair Tower being an early harbinger of what is possible in the district. The building is directly across Dunlap from Le Bonheur.
The Medical District plan is the subject of our April 7 Daily News Seminar at the Brooks.
The keynote speaker is Tommy Pacello of the Medical District Collaborative.
On a similar front, a guest column from Brandon Gaitor of the law firm Brewer and Barlow about the blight effort.
Gaitor writes about something many of us can relate to, returning to neighborhoods where we grew up to find a kind of devastation that is personal as well as structural.
Gaitor is also among the featured guests on WKNO TV’s Behind The Headlines Friday at 7 p.m. where he is part of a discussion there about the nuts and bolts of the city’s still-forming anti-blight effort.
In economic development news there are so many pun possibilities here we’ll let you create your own. A German company that makes ketchup and other condiments announced Thursday it will open its first North American plant in Dyersburg.
Meanwhile, in Fayette County the state comptroller has found some accounting problems in local government’s books.
Don Wade with some thoughts on Peyton Manning’s retirement.
Nationally: an Android peek from Google, and some new Internet privacy rules being proposed.