VOL. 10 | NO. 53 | Saturday, December 30, 2017
Gibson Guitar Factory Sold for $14.1 Million
A warranty deed filed Dec. 27 with the Shelby County Register of Deeds shows that buyers paid $14.4 million for the Gibson Guitar Factory property in Downtown Memphis.
The Daily News first reported that investment firms Somera Road Inc. of New York and Tricera Capital of Miami, Florida, bought the property on Dec. 5.
The transaction includes the 150,000-square-foot factory and showroom located at 145 Lt. George W. Lee Ave. and a 350-space parking lot at 0 Pontotoc Ave.
On Dec. 12, the Center City Revenue Finance Corp. approved a lease transfer request by the new owners of the Gibson Guitar Factory in addition to an amendment that removed a jobs requirement condition and expands acceptable uses of the property.
Andy Cates and Andrew Phillips of Colliers International were tapped to handle property management and leasing services for the property going forward.
– Patrick Lantrip
Mynt Lounge Closes Permanently as Nuisance
The Mynt Lounge, 4205 Hacks Cross Road, has agreed to close permanently, the Shelby County District Attorney General’s office announced Thursday, Dec. 28.
The closure follows a nuisance petition filed last week that temporarily closed the southeast Shelby County nightspot pending a hearing in General Sessions Environmental Court.
At that hearing Thursday, the club owners and prosecutors presented a consent order that made the closure permanent.
The lounge was the scene of a homicide in August. Prosecutors also cited a long-term investigation by the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office and the Multi-Agency Gang Unit in seeking to declare the club a nuisance.
Since the club opened in January 2016, deputies have responded to 57 calls for service there and 344 calls within a half-mile of the business.
– Bill Dries
Liberty Bowl Game Parking, Shuttle Services Announced
With a sold-out AutoZone Liberty Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 30, parking spaces at the Fairgrounds are expected to go fast and there will be shuttle services available.
The stadium parking lots open at 6 a.m. at $20 per space, cash only. The stadium gates open at 9:30 a.m. with kickoff at 11:30 a.m.
The two access points for on-site Liberty Bowl parking are at East Parkway and Young Avenue, and at Southern Avenue and Early Maxwell Boulevard. All other parking lots are sold out, including Tiger Lane and parking for buses and RVs. Disabled parking on a first-come, first-served basis is available on the stadium lot off Hollywood Street.
A clear bag policy is in effect – fans may enter with bags that are clear plastic, vinyl or PVC and are not larger that 12 inches by 6 inches by 12 inches; also acceptable are a single clear plastic freezer bag and small clutch bags about the size of a hand, with or without handles and straps.
There is an exception for medically necessary items.
Hotel shuttles by Blues City Transportation will be operating from affiliated hotels Downtown and in East Memphis. Blues City representatives are taking reservations for the shuttle in the hotel lobbies at a cost of $15 per person round trip.
Blues City is also offering park-and-ride shuttle service to and from the LIberty Bowl with pickup at the University of Memphis central parking lot on Central Avenue between Zach Curlin and Deloach streets. The lot opens at 7 a.m. with shuttle service starting at 7:30 a.m. Round trip is $15.
Another shuttle will drop off and pick up at the Coca-Cola plant at 499 S. Hollywood near Southern.
– Bill Dries
AutoZone Liberty Bowl Featuring Tigers Sells Out
The AutoZone Liberty Bowl game on Saturday, Dec. 30, between the University of Memphis and Iowa State is a hard sellout, bowl representatives announced on Thursday.
Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium seats 57,266 and this is the second hard sellout in three years for the bowl game, which is in its 59th year.
Memphis (10-2) is playing in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl for the first time. Iowa State (7-5) lost to Tulsa in the bowl game after the 2012 season.
Kickoff is 11:30 a.m. and the game will be televised on ABC.
– Don Wade
MPD 911 Call Takers Set New Standard
Memphis Police Department call takers answered 95 percent of the calls to 911 in November within 20 seconds or less.
The answer time is the quickest since the city’s Office of Performance Management began tracking how long it takes to answer 911 calls in January 2015.
When the office began measuring the performance, 53.2 percent of 911 calls were answered in 20 seconds or less.
The November 2017 average was 7.79 seconds to answer a 911 call.
– Bill Dries
Tire Dealer Cooperative Expands to Memphis
Portland, Oregon-based Point S USA, a member-owned cooperative of independent tire dealers, is expanding operations to Tennessee with a distribution partnership in Memphis.
The partnership will create Point S USA’s fourth distribution center, a 120,000-square-foot facility for tire warehousing.
In a statement about the news, Point S USA CEO Walter Lybeck said the expansion is in line with the company’s strategic growth plans across the U.S. and represents “the next step with our commitment to helping independent tire store owners across the country.”
Point S Tire & Auto Service USA has more than 200 stores in 15 states. Store owners own the cooperative via their membership and receive volume bonus benefits and patronage from their purchases and profits of the company.
Point S has 3,500 branded locations worldwide in 32 countries and four continents and sells 16 million tires annually.
– Andy Meek
CBU President Smarrelli Joins DACA Alliance
Christian Brothers University president John Smarrelli Jr. has joined a national alliance with other university presidents to show support for DACA and immigration policies while he focuses on finding solutions for CBU students in the program.
More than two dozen distinguished American higher education leaders recently launched the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, a collective effort to improve how colleges and universities address immigration-related matters affecting their campuses.
The alliance, composed of leaders from public and private universities and university systems, liberal arts colleges, and community colleges across the U.S., will support adoption of best practices on campuses and work in a unified manner to communicate the need for federal and state policies that create a welcoming environment for immigrant, undocumented and international students.
M. David Rudd, president of the University of Memphis, and Smarrelli are both members of the founding group of presidents and chancellors representing hundreds of thousands of students, faculty and staff at more than 25 institutions of higher learning.
“Christian Brothers University has always worked hard to be a place of refuge and support for all of our students, and that includes our immigrant and undocumented students,” Smarrelli said in a statement. “We are committed to doing whatever we can to further the enriching academic experience that all CBU students deserve, and ask Congress to act with haste in ensuring that all young people across our country have safe, supported access to college educations, job opportunities and lives of fulfillment.”
The alliance is led by a steering committee that includes presidents and chancellors Nancy Cantor, Rutgers University-Newark, New Jersey; Noelle Cockett, Utah State University-Logan, Utah; John J. DeGioia, Georgetown University-Washington, D.C.; Dorothy Leland, University of California-Merced, California; David Oxtoby, Pomona College-Claremont, California; Eduardo Padrón, Miami Dade College-Miami, Florida; and Timothy White, The California State University-Long Beach, California.
Go to PresidentsImmigrationAlliance.org for more information about the alliance.
– Daily News staff
Grizz Unveil MLK50 Uniform Design
The Memphis Grizzlies have unveiled their 2017-18 MLK50 City Edition Nike uniform on grizzlies.com.
The MLK50 City Edition uniform is set to debut on the court at the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration game Jan. 15 vs. the Los Angeles Lakers at FedExForum.
The uniform will support the National Civil Rights Museum’s remembrance of the 50th anniversary of King’s assassination and will be worn at various games throughout the season, including on April 4 when the Grizzlies visit the New Orleans Pelicans, the anniversary of the 1968 assassination.
The black-and-white uniform is “simple, stark and raw,” according to the Grizzlies, which based the design on the “I Am A Man” slogan used during the sanitation workers’ strike in 1968. The word “Memphis” is displayed across the chest using the typeface and underline accent from the protest signs used during the strike.
In addition, the side panel design forms an “M” inspired by the typeface used on the signs “while nodding back to Memphis itself,” according to the organization.
“As we approach the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination, we are humbled to shed light on the events leading up to the tragic day itself through the introduction and wearing of our MLK50 City Edition uniform,” Jason Wexler, Grizzlies president of business operations, said in a statement on the Grizzlies’ site. “Alongside our longstanding partners at the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, we want to generate local, national and global awareness of the museum’s vital message of social and economic justice and call to reflection, ‘Where do we go from here.’”
Visit grizzlies.com/nike-MLK50 for full details and inspiration behind the uniform design. Details and further plans around the 16th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration weekend and game will be announced in the coming weeks.
– Don Wade
Airbnb: Memphis Hosts Earned $7 Million in 2017
Airbnb reports its Memphis host community earned a combined $7 million in supplemental income while welcoming about 68,000 guest arrivals to the city in 2017.
That reflects 79 percent year-over-year growth in guest arrivals, according to the hospitality company, which says Memphis has about 670 active Airbnb hosts, 40 percent of whom share an extra, unused room in their home.
The typical Memphis host earns about $8,100 annually in supplemental income through the Airbnb platform, the company reports.
Airbnb cites a recent Marcus & Millichap report that suggests its host community appears to complement, not compete with, the local hotel industry. The late 2017 report concludes Memphis hotels are demonstrating strong growth in overall occupancy. According to Airbnb, this suggests the service is opening up the region to a new slice of prospective tourists by catering to travelers who are less able to afford hotels, desire to stay in an area that lacks hotels, or are part of a family that prefers to be together under one roof.
Additionally, the city is capitalizing further on Airbnb’s growth thanks to a tax agreement announced in May that allows Airbnb to collect the Memphis Short Term Room Occupancy Tax (3.5 percent) and Tourism Improvement District Assessment ($2 per bedroom per night) on behalf of its Memphis hosts. This was the first tax agreement for Airbnb in the state of Tennessee.
To date, the largest surge of Airbnb guests to Memphis in the history of the platform occurred during the Beale Street Music Festival.
However, the company is projecting this New Year’s Eve numbers will far exceed the May results, meaning this Sunday will set a new all-time record for Airbnb guests traveling to Memphis.
– Daily News staff
Graceland Prepares to Mark Elvis’ Birth Anniversary
A new “Hollywood Backlot” exhibit is among the features next week as Graceland marks what would have been Elvis Presley’s 83rd birthday.
The events kick off Jan. 4 and continue through Jan. 8 – the late entertainer’s birthday – with most of them being held at the Guest House at Graceland resort.
Items from the short-lived CMT series “Sun Records” go on exhibit at Elvis Presley’s Memphis, starting with an opening Jan. 8 at 11 a.m. The television series was about the early years of Sun Records.
That same day, city and county leaders will cut a birthday cake on the front lawn of Graceland and proclaim it Elvis Presley Day at 9:30 a.m.
The Auction at Graceland, featuring items owned by third-party collectors and authenticated by Graceland Authenticated, is scheduled for Jan. 6 at 12:30 p.m. in the Guest House theater.
The activities begin Jan. 4 with the start of weekly excursion tours from Graceland into the Mississippi Delta, including stops in the city of Clarksdale, Mississippi, along with the Delta Blues Museum, the Grammy Museum Mississippi and Southern Sounds at Dockery Farms.
– Bill Dries
Latino Memphis Head Communicator of the Year
Latino Memphis executive director Mauricio Calvo has been chosen by the Memphis chapter of the Public Relations Society of America as its 2017 Communicator of the Year.
The organization will honor Calvo at its monthly luncheon Jan. 11 at the University Club, 1346 Central Ave.
Calvo has served since 2008 as Latino Memphis’ executive director.
This will be the 41st year for PRSA Memphis to honor its Communicator of the Year. The award is given to a member of the community who exhibits the ability to communicate effectively to general or specific publics, has visibility and is a member of the community who invests his or her time and talent conveying a specific message. The recipient also does not necessarily have to be a public relations practitioner.
– Andy Meek
Ewing Moving Honored For Commercial Bookings
Ewing Moving & Storage Inc. has received the 2017 Stevens Worldwide Vanlines International Commercial Booking Award, which is given to the Stevens agent that has booked the most international commercial moves within the past year.
Ewing Moving & Storage led the pack with $70,000 in moves. The company has been an authorized agent of Stevens Worldwide Vanlines since 2005 and out booked over 125 other authorized agents to receive this honor.
Ewing credits its relationships with Memphis-based shipping giant FedEx and the United States military with helping the company achieve the honor. Both entities call on Ewing and Stevens to move numerous personnel and their families across the globe each year.
In addition, Ewing also has been recognized as the mover of choice for the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies and for the past three years has been the official movers of the NHL’s Nashville Predators.
“Our company has enjoyed being an authorized agent of Stevens Worldwide Vanlines for many years and our partnership has been integral to the growth of the company. I can honestly say it has been one of the best decisions I’ve made,” Ewing Moving & Storage Inc. founder and president Charles Ewing Sr. said in a statement. “We are grateful for their commitment to assisting small businesses such as ours. This award just proves that our hard work is paying off and our slogan ‘People Who Make the Right Moves’ continues to hold true.”
Stevens Worldwide Vanlines has been in operation since 1905 and is a top-rated van line in out-of-state, cross-country, international and local moves.
Ewing Moving & Storage has been in operation since 1980. It is a minority, family-owned full-service relocation company specializing in residential, commercial and corporate relocations.
The company’s partnership with Stevens allows Ewing to expand its reach and offer clients additional services such as international moves.
– Daily News staff
Citing US Tax Reform Bill, First Horizon Pays Bonuses
First Tennessee Bank’s parent company has joined other major U.S. employers like AT&T and Comcast in pledging bonuses for employees in the wake of the recent tax reform legislation passed by Congress.
Memphis-based First Horizon National Corp. will pay $1,000 bonuses in January. First Horizon chairman and CEO Bryan Jordan said the decision comes at the culmination of “an exceptional year” for the financial services institution, which also saw the completion of its merger with Capital Bank – the largest merger in the now-$40 billion Memphis company’s history.
“And as a result of this outstanding performance and because of recent tax reform efforts that we believe will benefit First Horizon, we are happy to offer bonuses to our people who work hard every day to maintain First Horizon’s reputation as one of the best companies to work for and one of the most trusted banks in the country,” Jordan said in a statement about the bonuses.
First Horizon joins companies like TV broadcaster Sinclair, which likewise in recent days pledged one-time $1,000 bonuses to employees.
– Andy Meek
Memphis Baseball Senior On AAC Preseason Team
University of Memphis senior outfielder Tyler Webb has been named to the Preseason American Athletic Conference team. The all-conference teams were released in conjunction with the league’s preseason poll; Memphis was picked to finish seventh in 2018.
Webb was the Tigers’ second-leading hitter last season, with a .305 batting average, 65 hits, 16 doubles and 43 runs scored. Webb started 52 games, including 50 games as the Tigers’ center fielder, and batted leadoff in 29 games.
A Prosper, Texas, native, Webb had 16 multiple-hit games, including a pair of four-hit games during the year.
One of his four-hit performances came in the Tigers’ win over Ole Miss at AutoZone Park. In the Tigers win over Murray State, Webb had four hits and a career-high five RBI.
Webb came to Memphis last season after an All-American career at Galveston College, where he batted .426 with 83 hits, 15 doubles, 34 RBI and 54 runs scored in 2016.
This marks the third consecutive season for Memphis to have an outfielder on the preseason all-conference team.
Last season, Chris Carrier received preseason honors; after the season, he was drafted by the Chicago Cubs. Two seasons ago, Darien Tubbs was named the preseason Player of the Year and ended the season by being drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Memphis opens the 2017 regular season at FedExPark against Western Kentucky, Feb. 16-18. The Tigers will play 31 total home games, including three games at AutoZone Park against Arkansas, Ole Miss and Mississippi State.
– Don Wade
Civil Rights Museum Opens Exhibit of Protest Art
The National Civil Rights Museum has opened a new exhibit of fine art depicting civil rights protests. “From the Vault: Art In Action” features pieces from the museum’s collections vault, including many it has never displayed, that represent a common theme: resistance and action through demonstrations and collective marching.
The exhibit includes works such as Jennalyn Krulish’s “Women’s March,” Elmer F. Blalock’s “Garbage Force,” George Ivers’ “Bloody Sunday,” Lonnie Robinson’s “King: Love, Peace, Justice,” Jesse Kunerth’s “MLK Jr.,” and Walter Andrade’s “The Dreamer.”
The National Civil Rights Museum reports less than 1 percent of its artifacts are on display and its collections storage is full of art and objects never seen by the public. The museum says exhibits like “From the Vault: Art In Action” allow it to bring collected pieces to light for a rare interpretive experience and help tell the story of American civil rights history from the perspective artists inspired by the movement and the activism of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
In addition, the museum has launched a “From the Vault” blog that highlights objects in its collection. The blog gives an inside story behind the art and artifacts from collectors and everyday people who saw value in preserving the past and entrusting it to the museum.
“From the Vault: Art in Action” is on display until Jan. 29 and is included with museum admission. For more information, visit civilrightsmuseum.org.
– Daily News staff
Cobb Files in Democratic Primary for Sheriff
The 2014 Democratic nominee for Shelby County sheriff, Bennie Cobb, has filed his qualifying petition to run for sheriff in the May county primaries.
Cobb, a retired supervisor in the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, faces chief sheriff’s deputy Floyd Bonner in the Democratic primary. Dale Lane, director of the county Office of Preparedness, already filed to run in the Republican primary for sheriff.
Incumbent Republican sheriff Bill Oldham is serving his second term in office, turning back Cobb’s challenge in 2014, and is term-limited.
Also filing with the Shelby County Election Commission the week before Christmas was Harold C. Smith, an assistant principal at Crump Elementary School, in the Democratic primary for Juvenile Court clerk.
Incumbent Republican clerk Joy Touliatos is running in the 2018 Republican primary for Shelby County mayor.
So far, the Republican primary for clerk includes Robert Hill, director of governmental and legislative affairs in the trustee’s office, and Bartlett alderman Bobby Simmons.
Candidates pulling qualifying petitions just before the Christmas break were:
• Donna Creson in the Republican primary for Shelby County clerk. Republican incumbent clerk Wayne Mashburn is term-limited and is running for county register.
• Attorney J.B. Smiley in the Democratic primary for County Commission District 8, the seat currently held by Democrat Walter Bailey, who is term-limited.
• Vontyna Durham, a substitute teacher for Shelby County Schools, who is running in the Democratic primary for County Commission District 10 in a challenge of Democratic incumbent Reginald Milton.
The filing deadline for those running on the May county primary ballot is Feb. 15 at noon.
– Bill Dries
Memphis Habitat Receives State Grant for 3 Homes
Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis is receiving $46,500 in state grant funding toward three homes built this fall in the Oakhaven neighborhood.
The funding comes as part of a $500,000 grant from the Tennessee Housing Development Agency to Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee. Memphis Habitat and other local Habitat organizations across Tennessee will apply the grant toward the construction of 30 new homes for families in need of decent, affordable housing.
“This THDA grant provides us with a solid foundation to jumpstart our larger fundraising efforts, which will reach $2.8 million from individuals, churches, foundations and businesses to complete these builds,” Colleen Dudley, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee, said in a statement.
Local Habitat chapters could apply for $15,500 per house in THDA funding from the grant. When construction is complete in June, more than 100 adults and children will be living in the 30 high-quality, energy-efficient homes built in part from this funding.
“We share Habitat’s mission and its passion for creating new homeownership opportunities to Tennessee families, so it’s a very natural partnership,” said THDA executive director Ralph M. Perrey. “We’re always confident that Habitat is going to put our funding to good use, and I’m sure more than a few THDA staffers will be among the volunteers at build sites across the state.”
In addition to supporting Habitat for Humanity with grant funding, THDA provides training to Habitat staff and other support to help more Tennesseans seek affordable homeownership opportunities. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage that, in turn, helps fund future Habitat homes.
Funding for the $500,000 THDA grant came from the Tennessee Housing Trust Fund (THTF), which receives no state tax dollars but is instead funded by revenue from THDA’s mortgage loan program. Since 2006, THDA has provided more than $75 million in THTF grants.
Habitat for Humanity was founded as a grassroots effort in 1976 in southern Georgia. The Christian housing organization came to Tennessee in 1978 and has grown to being ranked the fourth-largest builder of Habitat for Humanity homes in the country.
– Daily News staff
Air Canada Adds Second Memphis-Toronto Flight
Air Canada is adding a second daily flight between Memphis International Airport and Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ). The new flights begin May 1, the one-year anniversary of the airline’s return to Memphis.
In addition to being a nonstop connection between the two cities, the route also serves as a gateway to more than 160 Canadian and other international destinations Air Canada serves through its worldwide network.
“This second frequency boldly shows that Air Canada is responding to the strong demand of the Memphis market, and more importantly, it opens up Toronto as a gateway city through which Memphis passengers will be able to achieve very convenient one-stop service to Asia, Europe and the Middle East,” Pace Cooper, chairman of the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority board of commissioners, said in a statement.
Lisa Pierce, Air Canada’s senior director of U.S. sales and market development, said the airline added the second flight after receiving a “strong response from Memphis and the surrounding community to Air Canada’s service.”
“Apart from visiting Canada many customers are connecting onward through our Toronto global hub and the timing of this second flight starting this spring will make it even more convenient for people flying from Memphis to connect onward to our extensive Asian network,” Pierce said.
The airline uses a 50-seat Bombardier CRJ200 for its Memphis-Toronto route.
Starting May 1, the updated schedule is as follows:
• Depart: 6 a.m. CST; arrive: 9:25 a.m. EST
• Depart: 3:55 p.m. CST; arrive: 7:03 p.m. EST
Toronto-Memphis flights is:
• Depart: 2 p.m. EST; arrive 3:22 CST
• Depart 8:25 p.m. EST; arrive 9:51 CST
Tickets are available at aircanada.com.
– Daily News staff
Cardinals Caravan Coming Jan. 12
The annual Cardinals Caravan will stop at AutoZone Park on Friday, Jan. 12, at 6:30 p.m. The St. Louis Cardinals and Memphis Redbirds have yet to announce the current and former Cardinals players that will be attendance.
The Cardinals have been busy in the offseason, most notably trading for Miami Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna. They also signed free agent relief pitcher Luke Gregerson, traded outfielder Stephen Piscotty to Oakland for two infielders, and sent shortstop Aledmys Diaz (a 2015 National League All-Star as a rookie) to Toronto for outfielder J.B. Woodman.
Ozuna batted .312 with 37 home runs and 124 runs batted in, and the Cardinals are counting on him to be the big bat they’ve lacked in the middle of the order. Gregerson filled a set-up role for Houston last season, but he saved 31 games in 2015 and 15 games in 2016 and is being looked to fill the closer void for St. Louis.
– Don Wade
US Attorney’s Office Gets 2 New Prosecutors
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Tennessee will get two new assistant U.S. attorneys.
The two new positions are part of 40 new prosecutors the U.S. Department of Justice has allocated nationwide specifically to combat violent crime through seeking federal charges.
U.S. Attorney Michael Dunavant says one of the new prosecutors will be assigned to the Memphis office and the other to the Jackson, Tennessee, office. Both are within the Western District, which covers counties between the Mississippi and Tennessee rivers.
Dunavant, in a written statement, said the additional prosecutors would go toward prosecuting cases in “those communities in the Western District that have been besieged by gangs and violent crime.”
– Bill Dries
Repair Shop uBreakiFix Opening Memphis Store
The technology repair shop uBreakiFix opened its first Memphis location on Wednesday, Dec. 27, at 7464 Winchester Road.
The company can provide same-day repair service for electronics like cellphones and computers. It will be the brand’s eighth location in Tennessee, joining others in Nashville, Hendersonville and Murfreesboro. There are more than 350 locations across North America.
UBreakiFix was founded in 2009. To date, the company has completed more than 3.5 million repairs, including cracked screens, water damage, software issues, camera issues and most other technical problems.
– Andy Meek
Tenn. Unemployment Rate Below National Average
The unemployment rate in the state of Tennessee was “significantly” lower throughout the month of November, according to the latest data released by the U.S. Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
The preliminary, seasonally adjusted statewide unemployment rate for November was 3.1 percent. That’s two percentage points lower than it was one year ago and one percentage point below the national average of 4.1.
“We’ve invested in our workforce through educational programs like Tennessee Reconnect and Tennessee Promise to help citizens prepare for the job demands of today’s employers," Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said in a release announcing the figures. "But we’ve also focused on creating an environment in Tennessee where businesses can thrive and want to invest in our communities and citizens.”
– Daily News staff