VOL. 131 | NO. 45 | Thursday, March 3, 2016
Council Rejects Hotel at Jackson and Front
By Bill Dries
Memphis City Council members rejected a hotel with retail Tuesday, March 1, on the northeast corner of Jackson Avenue and Front Street, across from The Pyramid in the Pinch District, that was first proposed last year.
The development by Front Street Group moved ahead to a vote even after what looked like an agreement with the Greater Memphis Chamber and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital fell through.
The chamber and the hospital wanted the hotel to wait three more months on a master plan for development of the larger Pinch District coordinated with a coming expansion of St. Jude. The developers didn't want to wait.
“It’s just one of those things,” said councilman Berlin Boyd, whose district includes the Pinch and St. Jude. “I don’t want to lose the investment from St. Jude.”
The hospital’s expansion with new capacity and new construction as well as new research programs totals $8 billion. And Boyd said other cities are trying to get St. Jude to do it in their cities instead of Memphis.
Boyd also said St. Jude is seeking $75 million in state funding from Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam
The council rejected the item with a 4-7 vote.
Councilwoman Janis Fullilove argued there was no need to reject the hotel or hold up the developers. She questioned whether there were rival hotel developers with political connections seeking the property.
“Whenever you want to throw a sucker punch, always use St. Jude and the babies,” she said. “That’ll get you every time.”
Shea Flinn, vice president of the Greater Memphis Chamber’s Chairman’s Circle and a former city council member, discounted the “conspiracy theories,” saying they were circulating six years ago when The Pyramid was sitting dormant and St. Jude had no expansion plans.
Meanwhile, the council approved a six-story 120-room hotel at 139 Vance Ave. by NPH Investments. It is on an open lot north of the National Civil Rights Museum and south of the Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division building.
The council delayed until April 19 a vote on a truck stop with a hotel at Hollywood and Interstate 40 on the site of the old Treasury department store.
And the council approved a letter calling on federal housing officials to delay the planned move of more than 300 families out of the Warren and Tulane Apartments. HUD officials ended federal housing subsidies to the two complexes owned by Global Ministries Foundation this month.
In the letter, council members say more time is needed for the transition of the residents to other complexes that accept federal subsidies. The Strickland administration also is exploring some way to renovate the complexes once GMF is no longer the owner.