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VOL. 131 | NO. 187 | Monday, September 19, 2016


Bill Dries

Last Word: Gas Prices, Hotels and Airbnbs and Dicamba Drift

By Bill Dries

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How is your gas tank doing as the work week begins? If you are running on fumes you will probably also notice a dramatic hike in gas prices at the pump very shortly.

The Colonial Pipeline from Houston to New York closed Sept. 9 after a spill of 250,000 gallons was found in Alabama.

It’s one pipe of several in the pipeline and it supplies the east coast. It also has enough of an effect here that Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam joined several other governors Friday in issuing an executive order that waives federal restrictions on the hours gas tanker drivers can make their runs.

“Consumers should maintain their normal fuel purchasing and driving patterns to avoid straining the supply of gasoline,” was the advice included in the statement Friday from the Governor’s office.

There was also a warning about price gouging included.

By Saturday, some stations around the city posted notices on their pumps saying they were out of regular or in some cases of the next step up.

The Exxon gas pumps around town were about 30 cents higher than everybody else in parts of the city, which is about double the difference you usually see between their prices and those of the other gas retailers. Those other retailers were a bit over the $2 a gallon mark for regular but the step up to the next grade of gasoline was often more than the usual 10-cents.

A survey of the local hotel development scene is our cover story by Michael Waddell in our weekly, The Memphis News. We count 15 Downtown hotel projects in the pipeline at this point – some with financing, many without it at this point.

And there has been much discussion among those overseeing the city’s convention and meeting business about the greater need for a single large hotel instead of a series of smaller hotels to get the critical mass necessary to draw larger gatherings to the city.

The hotel industry also has its version of an Uber/Lyft debate with the rise of Airbnbs and questions about a still developing city ordinance that works out who has to pay a new fee on the hotel bill that goes to fund tourism efforts. The discussion around the ordinance is about trying to find a way to not impose the fee on those hotels and motels that some Memphians rent on a weekly basis as their home. In the process, it’s prompted discussions about where Airbnb’s fall.

By the numbers, occupancy rates Downtown are at 74.6 percent so far this year which is an increase from a year ago and the average daily rate is $159 a night, up 4.4 percent from a year ago.

But there are some indications beyond the current numbers of a “slowing economy” to quote Wayne Tabor, president of the Metropolitan Memphis Hotel and Lodging Assolciation.

The Diamond Estates developments are back in the Whitehaven area and the subject of our latest Chandler Reports Neighborhood Profile.

Developer David Walker is back with a relaunch of the subdivisions between Horn Lake and Weaver Roads, south of West Holmes Road after establishing the original developments in 1998 and then eventually running into the national economic downturn about a decade later.

Chandler Reports is the real estate information company that is part of The Daily News Publishing Co. Inc. The data shows most of the 251 residential properties in Diamond Estates were built in 2001 with an average total tax appraisal value of $134,230

Much has happened in the Whitehaven area in the interim, which included a 2004 effort by Walker to jumpstart the developments.

From The Daily News Small Business Seminar last week some thoughts on innovation and failure from our panel including business leaders who took some big risks into unchartered territory.

The Facing History and Ourselves effort is training teachers in 11 Midtown and Frayser schools in culturally responsive teaching. The 10 hours of training is a first for Facing History in the Frayser schools with speakers including Holocaust survivors and those on the front lines of the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s. It will also include a new course that explores media coverage of the issue of police departments’ use of deadly force.

Baptist Memorial Health Care builds its children’s hospital with a trio of new pediatric specialists for the facility.

Tennessee's Agriculture Commissioner talks about Dicamba drift – a herbicide that some farmers in the region used despite a federal ban that goes with a new Round-Up Ready version of Monsanto soybeans whose use is permitted.

The drift from the herbicide is being blamed by some farmers using other kinds of soybeans for destroying their crops.

Ag Commissioner Jai Templeton also came to town last week with plenty of stats about the role farming plays in the Memphis economy and why not every larger farm is necessarily a corporate farming operation.


Consumer prices up slightly in August.

More mortgage debt in the housing recovery.

And here comes the Congressional probe into Wells Fargo.

The Memphis News Almanac: An early review of Solomon Alfred and JFK on Court Avenue.

PROPERTY SALES 40 220 16,417
MORTGAGES 28 85 10,172
BUILDING PERMITS 161 826 39,370
BANKRUPTCIES 29 136 7,733