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VOL. 131 | NO. 57 | Monday, March 21, 2016


Bill Dries

Last Word: D-Day, Opera Festival Returns and Buying GMF After the Bond Default

By Bill Dries

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This is what you might call D-Day in Nashville. The “D’ in this case stands for deannexation.
The bill to permit deannexation by referendum has in the course of two weeks become the city’s dominant political issue.

It’s more than the proposal. The bill has touched a few political third rails including the city’s relationship with the Tennessee legislature and some larger issues laid bare by the merger of public education in Shelby County followed by its demerger.

There are some other political nerve endings the controversy could walk across depending on how things go in Nashville. They include a very low-key reference so far to the possibility of the city seeking some kind of merger with Shelby County government as a response to a deannexation law.

The bill that was approved by the House last week is on the Senate floor at 1 p.m. Monday afternoon. We’ll be providing updates @tdnpols, www.twitter.com/tdnpols as the legislature acts.

Here is a rundown of where things stood as the weekend began.

And wasn’t it a crisp weekend to begin spring with by the calendar?
When the weather still promised spring in the air and not just by the calendar there were a couple of developments in stories we’ve been following that may have been obscured by your spring fever.

First, the University of Memphis announced it has completed the review of Tigers basketball coach Josh Pastner and that Pastner will remain as head coach.

Meanwhile, in San Francisco, a judge has thrown out most of the criminal charges against FedEx in the Justice Department’s case alleging that FedEx has knowingly shipped illegal prescription drugs.

The cover story by Andy Meek in our weekly, The Memphis News, looks at five entrepreneurs who have done what many think about – working for themselves in businesses they have pursued on the side on their own time while earning a pay check elsewhere.
It’s always an interesting decision in which the odds are as long if not longer than the hours and there is no net.

Plans for the Midtown Opera Festival April 1-10 offer more of the variety that the festival tried out last year. That means “Tragedy of Carmen” and “L’heure espagnole” performances at Playhouse on the Square will be joined by ballet, musical theater at the Beethoven Club that marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth and a performance by High Expectations Aerial Arts.

Last week was a busy one for those working on the multi-sided issues of blight in Memphis.
They held a symposium on Thursday and a summit on Friday to underline their efforts.
The result is a roadmap of sorts that those involved hope better coordinates the effort that has, even in the recent past, had cracks the size of the Grand Canyon for efforts to fall into.

Meanwhile, the bond default by Global Ministries Foundation after HUD ended its rental subsidies to the Warren and Tulane apartments owned by GMF was slow in reaching the market.
Bloomberg Business chronicles the events in which GMF’s debt was still selling for 110 cents on the dollar the day after a default in which the price of the securities could have tumbled as much as 81 percent.

If you were on Beale Street this weekend, you know this is the seasonal peak for the entertainment district and there are already some good-sized crowds on the street already.
Behind the scenes, the discussions about who will manage the district going forward got a bit more heated when the Beale Street Tourism Development Authority decided to reopen the process for new proposals as it continues to talk with the four companies that have already made proposals.
Here’s a larger context on the discussions and how they fit into the recent past of the district.

The group that plans to develop “Midtown Market” on the southwest corner of Union Avenue and McLean Boulevard took another step forward last week with the purchase of the land for a combined $2.1 million.
The hotel and office building on the site will be demolished to make way for the $43 million project which includes an apartment complex and a national gourmet grocery store.
The plans were announced last October.
Meanwhile, over the weekend, the old Midtown Kroger next to the Midtown Market site was partially demolished with the rest to come by the end of this week as steel girders are now giving the new store to come its form just a few feet away.

Last year, we told you all about Nike’s $301 million expansion of its North American Distribution Center on New Frayser Boulevard. A much more modest build-out of $1.5 million underway for Nike in a warehouse at 5155 Lamar Avenue.

The Memphis News Almanac: Ratt goes Round and Round, car insurance includes CB radio coverage, move-in day at City Hall and testing street lights on Second Street.

PROPERTY SALES 36 154 6,546
MORTGAGES 34 94 4,129
BUILDING PERMITS 201 554 15,915
BANKRUPTCIES 43 126 3,396