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VOL. 131 | NO. 235 | Thursday, November 24, 2016


Bill Dries

Last Word: Pinch Plans, Fusion On Wheels and The Grizz Main Two

By Bill Dries

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If surface parking lots had a capitol in Memphis, it would probably be the Pinch. That’s why the general ideas and plans the city is currently exploring for the nine-blocks of the Pinch between the Pyramid and St. Jude can be a bit disorienting.

It takes a minute or two when you look at the drawings of what could possibly happen to figure out what the streets are – especially Overton Avenue, a three-block stretch that would become the primary east-west corridor.

Couple that with several versions of a comeback for what is the oldest part of the city of Memphis that have come and gone and you have a real challenge. There was a different kind of challenge Tuesday as city leaders and planners held the final public meeting before they begin what is arguably the most critical part of the current effort – finding the money and financing to take this version from renderings to reality.

St. Jude owns roughly half of the area involved. But the property owners of the rest have held on through numerous plans that go back to Sidney Shlenker’s arrival in the city at the end of the 1980s. And they don’t much like the city council’s moratorium on approving any new land uses until there is a comprehensive city plan for the entire district.

Some have been around since Shlenker was talking about the Rakapolis on "Festival Island" in addition to what he was going to do inside the Pyramid and the spillover effect it would have in The Pinch. And Bass Pro Shops was initially going to take on the redevelopment of the Pinch as well as the Pyramid only to sever the east-west link between the Pyramid and the Pinch.

They also have suspicions that there is a specific plan already assembled in some form that they aren’t being told about. St. Jude officials say the only plans they have are within their current campus with the exception of the data center that is just south of the current campus. Paul Young of the city’s HCD division as well as planners and architects with LRK insist the renderings of high rise buildings are just ideas that aren’t set in stone.

Just to the east of St. Jude, Le Bonheur has started the capital campaign for a $12 million expansion of its FedExFamilyHouse at Poplar and Ayers for the families of Le Bonheur patients. Le Bonheur, like St. Jude, has a long reach that is getting longer as the hospital has added dozens of pediatric experts and researchers.

In Chickasaw Gardens, a vacant Wendy’s is about to become the bricks and mortar home, probably next month, for Sushi Jimmi. Sushi Jimmi is a popular local food truck owned and operated by Jimmy Sinh who has been doing Asian fusion on wheels for about a year and a half now.

In Digest, a look at the latest crime stats citywide and countywide from the Crime Commission with just over a month left in a year in which we seem about to break the 1993 city record of 213 homicides.

An early sports section this week because of our combined Thursday-Friday edition:

The exit of Austin Nichols in Virginia is the subject of Don Wade’s Press Box column.

The Grizz go from the Core Four to the Main Two, which means more changes and a back-up point guard to Mike Conley, one of the Main Two along with Marc Gasol.

Dave Link in Knoxville sets the scene for UT and Vanderbilt football in Nashville Saturday and the high stakes for the Big Orange after failing to win the SEC East.

David Climer in Nashville on the path out of the NFL wilderness for the Titans led by Marcus Mariota.

A few more notes for the long weekend:

Our guests on “Behind The Headlines” are Sally Heinz of MIFA and Dr. Kenneth Robinson of United Way of the Mid-South to talk about their work in a city with a lot of needs year round that becomes more visible at this point on the calendar. BTH airs Friday at 7 p.m. on WKNO TV.

The cover story of our weekly, The Memphis News, by Don Wade, is about distracted drivers and some ways local law enforcement is trying to counter dangerous habits on the road.

The Memphis Real Estate Recap: Gill pulls a building permit for the new MAA headquarters at the TraVure development in Germantown, Intermodal Cartage signs a one-year lease on Delp Road, more details on the EDGE incentives that are bringing International Distributors USA Inc. to Hickory Hill from Olive Branch and an affiliate of Reedy & Co. buys the 4701 Summer Ave. building Reedy currently occupies.

November Fed minutes indicate an interest rate hike “relatively soon.”

Last Word will return after the long weekend. We will be waiting for you Monday morning or late Sunday if you are looking for an early start on the road to Christmas.

PROPERTY SALES 0 211 21,788
MORTGAGES 0 164 16,581
BANKRUPTCIES 0 100 6,817