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VOL. 131 | NO. 48 | Tuesday, March 8, 2016


Bill Dries

Last Word: Redbirds Sold, Memphis Burning and When Old Dominick Was Young

By Bill Dries

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Grizzlies over the Cavaliers 106-103 Monday evening in Cleveland despite the pre-game injury story dominating up to tip-off.

Back here at the home of the Grizz and the land of the Tigers, baseball – Redbirds baseball – grabbed much of the attention.
It was two years ago that Memphis Mayor A C Wharton pitched the deal to the Memphis City Council – the city must buy AutoZone Stadium and in turn the St. Louis Cardinals would buy the Memphis Redbirds AAA team that is part of its farm club system.
Two years later, the Cardinals have sold a majority share in the team to Peter Freund of Trinity Baseball Holdings.
Neither side is throwing around any dollar figures and hope to close the deal by April 1.
The administration of Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland says this shouldn’t change the city’s contract with the team’s ownership. That’s the contract that affects who pays for improvements to AutoZone Park.
Those improvements, which the Cardinals made and paid for at the outset, reduced the number of seats in the ballpark.

A lot of buzz at the start of the week about a piece in Places Journal by Preston Lauterbach about racial inequality in Memphis.
Lauterbach's piece comes as many Memphians devoured his latest book “Beale Street Dynasty,” an unblinking look at the roots of Memphis prosperity in vice and how that was sanitized in later histories of the city.
“Memphis Burning” starts there and moves to present day Memphis including the end of public housing and Robert Lipscomb’s controversial role in “ending public housing as we know it” – a phrase that became Lipscomb’s mantra along with the two mayors he worked for as director of Housing and Community Development.

Shelby County Commissioners had a compact but busy agenda Monday that included voting down a referendum to do away with county term limits on the first of three readings, two legal opinion including one on what happens if Mayor Mark Luttrell becomes Cong. Mark Luttrell in November and another on whether the county is obligated to help fund the District Attorney General’s office to ramp up for police body cameras.

On our WKNO TV show, Behind The Headlines, some new minority business dollar figures – this time on state contracts with minority business and some thoughts on the way forward on the issue.

The Overton Park Greensward story continued to move Monday evening right up to Tuesday’s first mediation session between the Memphis Zoo and the Overton Park Conservancy.
For the first time and probably not the last time, the issue has surfaced of who at City Hall has the authority to give control of the Greensward -- the city council or the mayor?

Meanwhile, the Shelby Farms Park Conservancy board named the successor to Laura Morris as executive director. The new executive director is Jen Andrews who was the first person hired by the organization 10 years ago before it was a conservancy.

Also in digest is an item about Elvis Presley Enterprises, specifically its holding company, getting into the auction and verification business more deeply. Graceland will be holding an auction of Muhammad Ali items in the fall.

Huey’s has responded to our item about the renovation of the original Huey’s on Madison.
The eastern graffiti wall will get several windows in the renovation underway this week. But Huey’s says there will still be graffiti where there are not windows.
Must … avoid …. Greensward … comparative analysis.

The Ignite Memphis organization is turning its search for the next big ideas in Memphis to the arts with an April 4 event at Playhouse on the Square.

April 4 is the day remembered as the day Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis. That event also prompted the formation of the Metropolitan Interfaith Association and MIFA is preparing to mark its 48th anniversary.
Some thoughts from MIFA’s executive director on where the organization is 48 years later.

Lots of milestones as Old Dominick Distillery heads for a December opening on Front Street and Madeline Faber has the most definitive story to date on what it takes to build a modern distillery in the 21st century and the Canale family roots in the business which date back to the 1860s. Those roots were a powerful force in the family’s decision to move on the plans for Old Dominick.

Also in the construction emphasis, Lance Wiedower on the Ikea store taking shape in Cordova and the history that goes into the layout of the store. And how architecture and engineering has changed for the Memphis design firm Allen & Hoshall.

Nationally, a Supreme Court ruling upholds the finding that Apple conspired with publishers to raise the prices e-books in its challenge of Amazon.com.
The Fed vice chair sees inflation rising.
A survey of economists on Fed policy.
And the growth in national consumer borrowing slows in January.

First Katy Perry and now Tom Cruise.
Two web sites you’ve never heard of before are reporting that Perry and Cruise have decided to move to the Memphis area – buying homes.
The Cruise report surfaced Monday saying Cruise “announced in an interview yesterday” that he is moving to “the small quaint town of Germantown.”
“The people there are real. They’re genuine and I don’t have to question their sincerity and I think it would be a hell of a great place to live.”
On March 3, McKenzie Post said Katy Perry is moving to Memphis. She too announced this in an interview and said she wanted to “live in a place where people were just people and whose sincerity you didn’t have to question.”
Each story ends with the assurance that Katy and Tom would be given “a warm welcome.”
But before you begin speculating on your rising property values, the McKenzie Post has also reported that Katy Perry is moving to Rock Hill, South Carolina “where people were people and whose sincerity you didn’t have to question.”
This too was announced in an interview.
But we must point out that in the case of Rock Hill, the reporter said her presence might be a “boon for the economy” in Rock Hill but made no mention of a warm welcome for her.
Tom Cruise is proving just as fickle.
The McKenzie Post is also posting that he is moving to Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania and Indianola, Iowa.
Oh wait, breaking news. Justin Bieber is moving to Sandy, Oregon and building a mega church in Springfield, Missouri and he’s moving to Gulf Shores, Alabama -- which is where he will probably run into lots of Memphians whose sincerity can't be questioned.

PROPERTY SALES 51 328 20,960
MORTGAGES 58 387 24,132
BUILDING PERMITS 170 842 43,435
BANKRUPTCIES 50 288 13,468