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


Bill Dries

Last Word: Busy Council Day, County Property Tax Cut Call and Gas Tax Vote Nears

By Bill Dries

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The Lawsons – K.J. and Dedric – are on their way to Kansas after leaving University of Memphis basketball they announced Monday. And Markell Crawford confirmed Monday that he will be transferring too. Crawford is the sixth Tiger player to head for the door since the season’s end. What will Tigers basketball look like by the next season?

A busy Tuesday at City Hall that includes a city council vote on whether or not to abolish the Beale Street Tourism Development Authority and a discussion about the city permits required for protests and marches. But wait there's more... a $10 flat fee for some on-street parking Downtown, the sale of the Sheraton Downtown and parking in Overton Park.

Shelby County Trustee David Lenoir says there should be a county property tax rate cut above and beyond whatever the new recertified rate winds up being because of the 2017 property reappraisal. Lenoir’s declaration on “Behind The Headlines” is the latest development in the race for Shelby County Mayor that isn’t on the ballot for about another 11 months but is nevertheless underway. Lenoir commented on the WKNO TV show during a discussion of the reappraisal that also included Shelby County Assessor Cheyenne Johnson and Memphis Chief Financial Officer Brian Collins.

Johnson said residential values could be up as much as 13 percent and commercial values, which go out April 20, by about 20 percent. This reappraisal is the third in a series that reflect the housing bubble, the bursting of that bubble in a recession like none seen since the Great Depression and the slow recovery from that recession. The reappraisal is governed by some strict regulations that make it a look about two years in the past for purposes of the values.

In The Tennessee Legislature:

The time draws near for a vote on the gas tax bill and leaders of the state Senate, including Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris of Collierville are firming up their stand behind the Haslam administration’s proposal now that it is in its final form. Meanwhile the state House leadership is working on an alternative to fund nearly 1,000 state road projects without raising the gas tax and the Senate leadership is telling our Nashville correspondent, Sam Stockard, that it doesn’t think much of the general premise.

State Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris of Memphis calling for the legislature to change its stance on refugee resettlement with the U.S. air strikes in Syria less than a week ago.

Meanwhile, more fallout from the Legislature honoring a Memphis preacher, Bill Owens, for his civil rights work. Owens has also called on African-Americans to leave the Democratic party and most recently backed Republican nominee Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election. That prompted Memphis Democrat Antonio Parkinson, in the House, to separate himself from that part of Owens’ resume. Owens plans to return partisan fire Tuesday here in Memphis.

The One Beale project at Riverside and Beale is looking for a way forward – specifically where to put a parking garage that proved to be a structural challenge. But Chase Carlisle of Carlisle Corp., the company that is pursuing the ambitious skyline project, is going to Avison Young to lead that company’s Memphis office.

When he walks on stage at the Halloran Centre later this month, Paulo Nunes-Ueno will come to town with a wealth of experience and ideas about sustainable transportation, mobility and parking. Known for his transit work in Seattle, Nunes-Ueno is these days a consultant to cities and regions about transportation networks and how they should work together.

He is among the speakers at the April 27 RegionSmart forum by the Urban Land Institute which we are involved in.

Nunes-Ueno tells us in advance of his visit here that he wants to talk about the need for metrics for any kind of transportation system. So his comments may not have a lot to do with our current long-running discussion about mass public transit in Memphis. But it will be about setting the framework for judging what that system should do. And that is a point that will likely generate a lot of different opinions. With the vast majority of the Memphis Area Transit Authority’s ridership relying completely on the buses to get where they need to go, there is lots of debate about whether trying to attract riders who have cars to get them to choose to ride involves a move away from those who have to have the bus service. That’s not to say this will be a discussion just about buses. It won’t be. Nunes-Ueno says he will also talk about parking and how to better manage the impact on car traffic on efforts to get more people out of their cars.

In our Start-Up Emphasis:

A census of sorts of all of the accelerators and start-up organizations in our city these days – 10. And we talk with those involved in these efforts about where these efforts are going and what the expectations are around specific types of start ups that are best suited to Memphis. That doesn’t mean, however, that these are efforts only for Memphians. An erasing of boundaries in some places is a key component of the start up discussion and the discussion is more specific with some results now in for the early efforts.

We first came across Mike Hoffmeyer several months ago at a forum for start-ups and would-be start ups put on by United Way of the Mid-South that was a really good discussion about what can start as a “side hustle” so to speak. Whether it develops to something bigger is up to the person. Hoffmeyer is director of the Crews Center at the U of M and comes to this with some personal experience.

A Q&A with Jessica Buffington, CEO of the real estate tech platform Front Door, which Buffington says is here to stay as it goes for a $10 million round of active fundraising.

The Warren and Tulane Apartments are sold for $3 million to a Cleveland real estate firm under terms of a court order that just about completes the legal process for the apartment complexes owned by Global Ministries Foundation of Memphis. A few things to watch: one of the conditions is that federal rent subsidies are restored by HUD for Tulane and there is some difference of opinion over how much the security firm hired by the receiver should be paid.

And the first of the three journalism awards that we submit work to and compete for each year have been announced. The Daily News has taken nine awards in the Tennessee Associated Press News Excellence Awards, five of them first place honors. And for a second consecutive year, we swept the business news category in our division. Soon to follow the Tennessee Press Association awards and the Green Eyeshade Awards for an 11-state region including Tennessee.

PROPERTY SALES 57 280 1,209
MORTGAGES 55 244 916
BUILDING PERMITS 158 699 2,751