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VOL. 131 | NO. 100 | Thursday, May 19, 2016

City Sells Old Police Building to NCE Realty

By Bill Dries

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The company that had the only bid Tuesday, May 17, on the old Central Police Building at 128 Adams Avenue still has to close on the deal with the city of Memphis.

Once it secures financing for a $22 million to $25 million redevelopment of the historic building as a hotel of up to 125 rooms, NCE Realty and Capital LLC will have to get a special use permit from the Memphis City Council for the project.

The council approved the sale to NCE for $2 million. It includes the circa-1910 building and its later annex, taking in six floors and 117,400 square feet.

There were no rival bidders, although several had expressed interest.

The city council website includes a 41-page presentation from NCE in advance of Tuesday’s decision that lists the entity undertaking the project as Police Hotel LLC, with Charlestowne Hotels to operate it.

The presentation includes a copy of a certificate dated Jan. 29 from China Minsheng Bank showing an NCE deposit account of $22 million in U.S. dollars.

NCE first surfaced in Memphis in 2013 when it bought the French Quarter Inn hotel in Overton Square for $1.9 million.

NCE announced last year that it would demolish the French Quarter and build a new hotel to be called Hotel Overton with 138 rooms.

But soon after renderings of the project surfaced, NCE sold the property to Ballet Memphis for a new performance center.

The company then turned its attention to the police building Downtown.

It made an offer to the administration of former Memphis Mayor A C Wharton after he lost his re-election bid in the 2015 city elections, but before Wharton left office at the end of December.

Just days after initialing a tentative purchase agreement with the city, NCE bought the boarded up and vacant Overton Manor Apartments facing Overton Park. The 1924 apartment building near the southeast corner of North Parkway and East Parkway was purchased from First National Realty Inc. for $280,000 and earlier this year NCE began renovation work.

A month after that, NCE bought 2.5 acres of open land near Founders Pointe subdivision, with the Mississippi River on its western side and Riverside Drive on its eastern side.

In other action Tuesday, the city council approved $500,000 to complete the renovation of the 170 N. Main St. office building near City Hall in the Civic Center Plaza.

The former Donnelley J. Hill state office building is to be the new headquarters for the Memphis Police Department, which is to move out of the Criminal Justice Center at 201 Poplar Ave. The building will also provide office space for several other divisions of city government.

The council also approved $351,162 for a set of floating boom systems on McKellar Lake to capture floating trash.

And the council approved $6.8 million from the city’s sewer fund to fix the failed sewer interceptor that leaked raw sewage into Cypress Creek and McKellar Lake earlier this year.

The council vote followed questions from several council members about the low percentage of minority firms participating in that project and other public works projects.

“We really aren’t playing about this,” said council member Janis Fullilove to public works director Robert Knecht.

Knecht said he is working to increase the percentage of minority contracts on projects. The minority business percentage on the emergency repairs was 7 percent of the total.

“Most of the cost is materials,” he said of the specific contract. “We are successful in some areas. We are increasing numbers wherever we can.”

Public Works projects are paid for out of several funds, including the city’s general fund and sewer and solid waste fee funds.

“You have to be intentional. Did you even try to attempt to break this contract down into several contracts?” council member Berlin Boyd asked. “You have a greater pie that could help create some wealth in the city of Memphis.”

PROPERTY SALES 34 34 3,905
MORTGAGES 47 47 4,437
BUILDING PERMITS 190 190 9,458
BANKRUPTCIES 60 60 2,945