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VOL. 132 | NO. 27 | Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Developers Request to Amend Downtown Hotel Project

By Bill Dries

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Memphis City Council members will consider an amendment Tuesday, Feb. 7, to plans for a 150-room hotel on the northwest corner of Madison Avenue and B.B. King Boulevard.

The change by Wessman Holdings LLC for the Leader Federal Bank building and the two-story building next to it on the corner would add a new nine-story building past the corner on the B.B. King side.

The existing two-story building on the corner now runs north-south to Bates Alley next to a surface parking lot. The plan by Wessman and its architect, Chris Pardo, would keep half of the two story building at the corner but demolish the northern half running to the alley for the nine-story building.

Wessman Holdiings LLC has changed its plans for a Downtown hotel at Madison Avenue and B.B. King Boulevard to include a nine-story tower to replace the northern half of the two-story building there. The hotel also will incorporate the Leader Federal bank building on the Madison side.

(Land Use Control Board staff report)

Work on another Wessman hotel project at 477 S. Main St. started moving last week with Montgomery Martin Contractors filing for a $5.3 million permit to begin renovating the building that most recently housed the Memphis College of Art graduate school.

The council meets at 3:30 p.m. at City Hall, 125 N. Main St. Follow the meeting @tdnpols, www.twitter.com/tdnpols, for live coverage and updates from committee sessions earlier in the council day.

Council members could change the way the city resolves contract stand-offs between the city administration and labor unions under a proposal council members get their first look at Tuesday during committee sessions.

Kemp Conrad

Council member Kemp Conrad is proposing an overhaul of the 38-year old city impasse ordinance – the latest change since city voters approved the process for resolving impasses between the city and municipal unions following the police and fire strikes of 1978.

The charter amendment approved by voters establishes an impasse process for economic contract items only like pay and benefits. The council sets the process itself by ordinance and has amended it extensively since the late 1970s.

The council reviews Conrad’s proposal at the 2:15 p.m. executive session at City Hall. The ordinance is not scheduled for a vote at the full council session later but could be added during executive session for the first of three readings.

Conrad’s fix would eliminate the possibility that the council could accept the final offer of a union in such an impasse but then the council could vote not to fund that position in the budget – effectively nullifying the impasse decision.

Click to see full report.

A 2013 amendment of the impasse procedure by the council specifically stated that the council “shall not be bound to fund any expenditures in any such memorandum of understanding.”

It also established the drawing of names for appointment of council members to the impasse committees.

Conrad’s proposal would retire the bingo-number-like drawing from a rotating wire cage and bring back the original procedure for impasses committees – the unions pick one representative, the city administration picks another and then those two impasse committee members pick a third council member.

But there would be a single impasse committee for all items that go to impasse instead of a separate impasse group for each set of employees or bargaining unit at impasse.

Each group of employees has until seven days after the mayor presents his city budget proposal to declare themselves at impasse and put into dollar form just what the impact on the city budget would be if the council approves their final position. The budget impact is a requirement for the employee group by March 1 in dealing with the administration.

The impasse committee would have until the second of three readings of the city budget ordinance to take a recommendation on the impasse to the full council.

As the procedure works now, the impasse committee reports to the full council that it has accepted either the city’s final offer or the union’s final offer. That decision by the committee stands until or unless the full council votes to override the decision of the impasse group.

Conrad’s proposal would change that.

The item before the council as a result of the impasse would be a vote on a budget amendment that reflects labor’s position. It would also spell out “in detail by employee organization the wages and/or incentive pay requested by each unit as compared to the wages and/or incentive pay proposed by the mayor.”

The impasse committee would make a recommendation for or against that.

And both sides, the city and the union, would make their case to the full council with the impasse committee setting the ground rules for how much time each side has to make their cases. And the impasse committee has the power to make either or both sides consolidate their cases “whenever their respective positions seek common relief, to avoid redundant arguments.”

Neither side can change its final position at the start of the impasse and no council member can negotiate with either or both sides on their positions.

The full council votes the budget amendment resulting from the union’s proposal up or down with a simple majority deciding.

That vote also serves to amend the city budget on the second of three readings thus not delaying the final vote on third reading at the next council session.

The council also returns Tuesday to the subject of Beale Street’s management at a 10:45 a.m. committee session. At a Jan. 17 committee session, council members expressed their displeasure with the Beale Street Tourism Development Authority – specifically its decision to end negotiations with the 21 Beale Street group to manage the entertainment district.

The end of negotiations after two rounds of RFPs – requests for proposals – from management firms means the Downtown Memphis Commission is now in its fourth year of running the district for the authority and the city. The DMC involvement was meant to be of a shorter term.

In other action, the council votes on third and final reading of an ordinance by Conrad that establishes a policy for the sale of city surplus property that allows for competing bids. And the council votes on plans for Morris Park in Victorian Village at an estimated construction cost of $1 million.

In planning and development items, the council votes on a 105-room hotel by Goodwill Partnership LLC on the north side of New Brunswick Road near Stage Road.

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