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VOL. 131 | NO. 226 | Friday, November 11, 2016


Bill Dries

Last Word: The Long Count, Bigger Than Boutiques and God's View of the NBA

By Bill Dries

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It's Veterans Day with the annual Downtown parade starting at 10 a.m. Friday and a wreath-laying ceremony an hour later at the Doughboy Statue in Overton Park.

The long local vote count since Tuesday is still underway as Thursday becomes Friday. It should wrap up Friday with the provisional ballot count completed.

Shelby County Elections Administrator Linda Phillips has outlined what went wrong Tuesday. It began with a stacker holding paper absentee ballots to go through an optical scanner. They did, but the machine they were going through wasn’t sending the results of all of them to the computerized vote count – some but not all. That stalled things enough that the election commission, with permission from the folks in Nashville, went home early Wednesday morning and resumed the manual count then. That’s when they discovered about 14 more absentee affidavits. And that was not something that could be blamed on the machinery. It was a human error.

On the way to the Memphis City Council for approval, possibly by the end of the year, a 155-room hotel in a renovated Tenoke Building on Jefferson Avenue between Second Street and B.B. King Boulevard.

The Aloft Hotel won a recommendation from the Land Use Control Board Thursday with more details about the development plan that includes the single-story building next to the Tenoke. The hotel will also fly the Starwood flag.

We’ve written a lot of stories in the last year or so about boutique hotels – so many that sometimes it seems the two words automatically go together. This project is different – bigger.

The Crowne Plaza Hotel is reopening after an extensive renovation in the Memphis Cook Convention Center area. This is a 230-room hotel, also in the league and location that Downtown planners say is needed to include meeting rooms and similar facilities that will boost the city’s convention and tourism business in ways that boutique hotels can’t. This is the hotel by the Interstate built in 1969. It has had a lot of owners as well as a lot of different names.

At one point, the original Crowne Plaza was the convention center hotel, across Main from the convention center and this hotel was the Sheraton. Now the original Crowne Plaza is a Sheraton.

In a few weeks you will start to see some entries in our Almanac from 30 years ago when the original Crowne Plaza, guided by Chattanooga developer Franklin Haney, found itself in financial trouble just after its opening.

Also at the LUCB Thursday, the board recommended against a proposed expansion of Prairie Farms milk plant in Overton Square. This is an important debate in the future of the square and its revival in the age of mixed use development on a broader scale.

The dairy was there before the original incarnation of the square in the early 1970s.

This too is on its way to the city council.

In our Friday sports section:

Don Wade’s Press Box on why God made different days.

Chad Rykhoek’s long road to his first college basketball game next week when the Tigers season opens at the forum.

David Climer in Nashville on Butch Jones’ Six-Point Plan.

Dave Link in Knoxville on UT football’s home stretch and chances for a title.

The cover story in our weekly, The Memphis News, is about moves politicos locally were making toward the next elections before the polls opened earlier this week for election day with a rundown of the full election day results here.

The PDF of the new issue is up now on this website. The hard copies are in the racks Friday morning. And the story goes up online Friday afternoon.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland talking more about his bid to keep the 2014 benefits cuts the Memphis City Council approved and enacted while at the same time finding a new way to restore the city’s subsidy for health care coverage of city retirees younger than 65 – most of them police and firefighters. Strickland saying the benefits cuts did play a role in the problems the police department has had keeping its complement above 2,000 but that the cuts weren’t the only factor. The decision this week on a private health care exchange is part of a package of moves designed to help police and fire recruit more aggressively.

Some of the panel from our seminar on Commercial Real Estate and some new voices come back for a CRE encore on Behind the Headlines this week. The show airs Friday at 7 p.m. on WKNO TV. Andy Cates from Colliers, Les Binkley from Boyle, Hank Martin from NAI SAIG and Shawn Massey from The Shopping Center Group.

The Grounds Guys in Germantown is the national company’s franchisee of the year

You’ve seen their landscaping work at Kingsway Christian Church in Germantown along the Poplar Corridor as well as Beth Sholom Synagogue and the Mitsubishi plant.

In Digest: the state’s TNInvestco venture capital program gets bad reviews in a state performance audit – only recovering $5.3 million of its initial $200 million investment. Some of that is the nature of venture capital. But the audit from the Tennessee Comptroller’s office also found a lack of information on jobs created and retained and minority and women hiring.

I will be on vacation next week. So Last Word will resume when I do – closer to Thanksgiving, further from the 2016 elections, but closer to the 2018 elections.

PROPERTY SALES 61 61 6,453
MORTGAGES 46 46 4,081
BUILDING PERMITS 113 113 15,474
BANKRUPTCIES 19 19 3,289