VOL. 132 | NO. 74 | Thursday, April 13, 2017
Community Development Council Rebrands, Hires New Director
Community Development Council of Greater Memphis is undergoing an organizational rebranding to become BLDG Memphis and has named John Paul Shaffer its new executive director.
Shaffer will take over for longtime executive director Emily Trenholm, who is stepping down after 17 years to pursue other opportunities.
Prior to his new position, Shaffer was the program director of Livable Memphis, a grassroots platform of the Community Development Council, which will be phased out in name under the new rebranding.
The organization said the name change is part of a larger effort to make its work and programs more accessible and relevant to all citizens and groups. The decision comes after a yearlong research and strategic branding project led by Hemline Tailored Brand Strategies.
Shaffer also announced that BLDG Memphis’ 2017 policy priority areas will be to formalize the city of Memphis’ commitment to support and partner with neighborhoods and neighborhood-based organizations, support new local funding for neighborhood revitalization, hold the owners of blighted property accountable, advocate for more funding for transit and other multimodal projects, increase homeownership in all Memphis neighborhoods, and foster robust public participation in the Memphis 3.0 comprehensive plan.
– Patrick Lantrip
Summer Pop-Up Park Planned for Riverfront
Following the popularity of this past winter’s Fourth Bluff Ice Rink, organizers announced they will launch a new temporary public gathering and recreation space at Mississippi River Park this summer.
Dubbed RiverPlay, the pop-up park will run from early May through August, with installation set to begin April 22 when portions of Riverside Drive close for Memphis in May events at Tom Lee Park.
The temporary park will span both Mississippi River Park and the adjacent parts of Riverside Drive that will be closed to vehicular traffic. Some of the highlights will include playing fields, basketball courts, a skating rink, and spaces for mobile food vendors.
The project’s costs are funded by private contributions to the Fourth Bluff program, and its partners include the Memphis Grizzlies, the city of Memphis, Riverfront Development Corp. and Downtown Memphis Commission.
The Fourth Bluff refers to a four-block area of the riverfront that includes the Cossitt Library, the University of Memphis law school promenade, Memphis Park, Mississippi River Park, and portions of the Riverwalk that connect them.
– Patrick Lantrip
On-Street Parking Rates Increasing Downtown
The Memphis City Council gave final approval Tuesday, April 11, to new rates for on-street metered parking. The rate goes up to $1.50 per hour from the current $1.25, and those parking at the meters in the entertainment district have the option of buying up to four hours at the $1.50 hourly rate.
The approved plan drops the original idea of a $10 flat fee for on-street parking within a half-mile of FedExForum and The Orpheum Theatre during special events. Council chairman Berlin Boyd amended his proposal Tuesday to instead extend the hours of paid on-street parking.
Currently, parking at Downtown meters is free on weekends and after 6 p.m. on weeknights; under the new plan, drivers will be charged to park on Saturdays and until 10 p.m. on weeknights.
The changes will mean an additional $141,000 in estimated revenue to the city in a year.
“That’s all we are trying to do is find a way to bump up and find small savings and find small increases that’s really not impactful to citizens,” Boyd said.
Boyd originally proposed a $10 flat fee during special events and cited other cities that have similar fees to match what nearby parking lots charge for special events. Some council members expressed reservations about the increases overall.
But Boyd said he didn’t get any pushback specifically on the flat fee, which was going to apply only to on-street parking spaces that use a single kiosk for a row of parking spaces.
“It’s really easy to type in a computer and change the kiosk but it’s very difficult to change those single-headed meters,” he said. “So that was a big issue. We have more single-headed meters than we do kiosks. So with all fairness I wanted to provide an equal opportunity for everyone.”
– Bill Dries
3 Crosstown Tenants Pull $11M in Building Permits
Three high-profile tenants have filed paperwork with the county to begin construction on their new locations inside Crosstown Concourse.
ALSAC, Crosstown Arts and Farm Burger filed building permit applications totaling $11 million with the city-county Office of Construction Code Enforcement.
ALSAC, the fundraising arm of the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, is seeking the largest permit, valued at $5.8 million, followed by the nonprofit organization Crosstown Arts at a little less than $5 million, and the farm-to-fork restaurant, Farm Burger at $293,032.
All three applications are for interior buildout and list Grinder, Taber & Grinder Inc. as the contractor. LRK Inc. is listed as the architect for Crosstown Arts, while NELSON is listed as ALSAC’s; Farm Burger’s application doesn’t list an architect.
Crosstown Concourse’s grand opening was pushed back from May 13 to Aug. 19 to allow tenants to finish building out their spaces and ramp up operations. However, a number of tenants and residents are already breathing life into the vertical village.
Most notably, Church Health, the YMCA and the restaurant Mama Gaia have all opened for business in the past few weeks.
– Patrick Lantrip
Council OKs Sheraton Sale, Weighs Trash Pickup Changes
The Memphis City Council on Tuesday, April 11, approved Host Hotels & Resorts LP’s $67 million sale of the Sheraton Memphis Downtown convention center hotel to LMS Real Estate Investment Management LLC, a newly formed joint venture between Schulte Hospitality Group and Starwood Capital Group.
Earlier in the day Tuesday, the Center City Revenue Finance Corp. approved another part of the transfer in ownership involving the tax abatement the current owners have with the CCRFC.
LMS has said it expects to close on the deal next week.
Leaders of the joint venture told council members the hotel, which is connected to the Memphis Cook Convention Center, will remain a Sheraton despite earlier talks about returning to a Marriott flag.
The council also got its first look Tuesday at four options the city’s Public Works Division is considering for solid waste garbage pickup.
The options, outlined by Public Works Division director Robert Knecht, at the council’s executive session are:
• Keeping the city’s $22.80 monthly garbage fee and requiring that everything for pickup be placed in a cart. The city would charge an additional $5 a month for each additional cart beyond the first one. Items on the curb outside containers would not be picked up, and Memphians would have to take those items to drop-off locations.
• A garbage fee of $25.05 a month that includes a once-a-quarter pickup of curb items outside containers.
• A fee of $28.05 a month for monthly curbside pickup of everything up to eight cubic yards.
• A fee of $32.80 a month for weekly pickup of everything up to eight cubic yards.
Knecht said the options are a further step toward Memphians paying garbage fees that reflect the amount of trash and garbage they put on the curb. And the fees are meant to reflect the cost to the city of providing the service.
Without a change in the fees, Knecht said the solid waste division will have depleted its reserve funds by 2020 from making up the difference in what the service costs and what Memphians pay.
– Bill Dries
Memphis Escape Rooms To Open ‘Grizzlies’ Experience
Memphis Escape Rooms is about to expand its partnership with the Memphis Grizzlies: an exclusive Memphis Grizzlies Escape Room, the first NBA-licensed escape room in the country.
In this new experience, appropriately named “Grizzlies,” players will be tasked with saving a Grizzlies game – and dodging the wrath of 18,000 angry fans – in one hour or less. “Grizzlies” will be housed at the business’s second location, set to open May 5 at 530 S. Main St., at the corner of South Main and G.E. Patterson Avenue.
The Downtown location also features an escape room called “Lost Pyramid,” set in the ruins of an Egyptian pyramid.
– Don Wade