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VOL. 132 | NO. 72 | Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Council Faces Beale Street, Parking Decisions

By Bill Dries

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Memphis City Council members have an agenda full of hot spots Tuesday, April 11. They vote on a move to abolish the Beale Street Tourism Development Authority, check to see if both sides paying for a Memphis Zoo parking solution in Overton Park are on the same page and take a final vote to change on-street parking around FedExForum and The Orpheum Theatre to a flat fee of $10 for “special events.”

Meanwhile, the council reviews the city’s role in transferring ownership and tax breaks to the new ownership group of the Sheraton Downtown Memphis convention center hotel. The 600-room hotel, the city’s largest by room count, was built on land the city owns.

JAMITA SWEARENGEN

Host Hotels & Resorts LP is selling its leasehold in the hotel to LMS Real Estate Investment Management LLC, a newly formed joint venture between Starwood Capital Group and Schulte Hospitality Group. The joint venture began its due diligence in August on a deal that is expected to close April 19, according to documents released last week.

The transfer of the tax abatement agreement goes to the Center City Revenue Finance Corp. for a vote Tuesday.

The council could add its part of the transaction to its Tuesday agenda for a vote. The council session starts at 3:30 p.m. at City Hall, 125 N. Main St. Follow live coverage of the meeting @tdnpols, www.twitter.com/tdnpols, as well as updates from committee sessions earlier in the council day.

Council members Jamita Swearengen and Martavius Jones are calling for the end of the Beale Street Tourism Development Authority in a resolution the council votes on Tuesday.

MARTAVIUS JONES

The move follows a series of council committee discussions about the authority’s decision to end talks with the 21 Beale Street group on a contract to manage the entertainment district on a day-to-day basis for the authority, which represents the city – the owner of the district between Second and Fourth streets.

The 21 Beale group was the last of four management groups that applied in two rounds of requests for proposals made by the authority.

The council created the authority in 2015, with the management contract being an early and key goal for the authority to achieve. The authority holds the master lease with the city and was created to resolve a three-way legal fight in federal bankruptcy court and Chancery Court between the city, Performa Entertainment – which was the manager and developer of the district from its 1983 opening to 2014 – and the Beale Street Development Corp.

The BSDC had the master lease with the city until the settlement of the lawsuit. But Lucille Catron, the widow of BSDC director Randle Catron, is contesting the settlement in chancery and federal court lawsuits filed in 2016.

At an 11:15 a.m. committee session Tuesday, the council checks in on a plan by the Memphis Zoo and the Overton Park Conservancy to each turn over $250,000 for planning and design work on a reconfiguration and expansion of the zoo parking area.

The council was prepared to accept the $500,000 in funding from both groups at a March 21 council session. But the vote was delayed after zoo president Chuck Brady said the zoo would not turn over its share because the conservancy had refused to split the 50-50 cost of construction that will follow the planning and design phase. OPC board chairman Eric Barnes, who is also publisher of The Daily News, has denied the zoo’s assertion.

The funding resolution is back on the council’s agenda Tuesday for a vote.

The council also votes on third and final reading of an ordinance that would change 497 on-street metered parking spaces within a half mile of FedExForum to a flat rate of $10 to park from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. on the nights of special events at the arena or the Orpheum.

The $10 flat fee would apply only to spaces where citizens pay at kiosks, not individually metered parking spaces. The kiosks have technology that allows a rapid change to the flat fee on certain nights and then a change back to regular rates.

Council chairman Berlin Boyd is proposing the ordinance, which has passed on two readings, as part of the council’s consent agenda.

Boyd said other cities are doing the same thing for special events to match rates at parking lots nearby.

“Around the country, everyone is extending their hours to create revenue in the Downtown area,” Boyd said at a Feb. 21 council committee session about the ordinance. “It’s just low-hanging fruit that we need to do. Either we think outside of the box or we increase property taxes.”

City Engineer Manny Belen estimates that with just 50 percent utilization of the flat-rate spaces, the city would generate $168,000 more per year than it currently does based on 62 events being held at the forum.

But some council members say they are getting complaints about the proposal from Downtown workers who say it is difficult enough now to find parking on a consistent basis that isn’t up for grabs on a first come-first serve basis. Belen said the city expects fees for valet parking Downtown will likely rise as a result of the proposed flat-rate system.

Boyd lives Downtown and represents the area and says he is prepared to pay the increase.

In other action, council members discuss the city’s permit process for marches, parades and protests at a 9:45 a.m. committee session.

A $475,811 Mud Island dog park contract will be discussed at an 11:15 a.m. parks committee session along with a $170,000 agreement for the city to buy a Union Pacific railroad right of way to increase the size of the Spanish-American War Park on the southwest corner of Central Avenue and East Parkway. The right of way is where the rail line once crossed over the intersection.

Daily News publisher Eric Barnes is chairman of the Overton Park Conservancy Board. He did not participate in the reporting or editing of this story.

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 76 133 1,342
MORTGAGES 83 131 1,047
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 8 19 170
BUILDING PERMITS 190 277 3,028
BANKRUPTCIES 39 73 691
BUSINESS LICENSES 12 22 298
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0