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VOL. 132 | NO. 29 | Thursday, February 9, 2017


Bill Dries

Last Word: The Artisan Survives, Gas Tax Push-Back and Our Competition

By Bill Dries

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I knew winter was out there hiding somewhere. Just waiting for you to leave your coat at home in a flush of spring fever, bounding out of work Wednesday afternoon to find spring has hit the highway. But where does spring go on its spring break? The Suns were in Memphis Wednesday evening – the Phoenix Suns, that is. They lost to the Grizz at the Forum 110 – 91.

Midtown Market, the mixed use development at Union and McLean -- one of the busiest intersections in Memphis – will keep the old Artisan Hotel instead of tearing it down to build new apartments. The Artisan would become a converted apartment building. The developers are still in search of financing and have scaled down and rearranged the project as a result. Still plans for a “national gourmet” supermarket as the retail anchor.

Push back on Gov. Bill Haslam’s gas tax proposal from Germantown Mayor Mike Palazzolo. He’s okay with the gas tax hike and most of the other parts of the complex proposal including the roll back of the sales tax on groceries. What he objects to is Haslam accelerating the phase out of the Hall income tax. The state law says it has to be gone completely in 2022. Haslam’s proposed 1.5 percent reduction in the upcoming year as part of the gas tax bill puts it on target to be gone by 2020. And Palazzolo said that’s not enough time to adjust in his city and numerous others. He also wants the state to up the local share of the Hall tax revenue to get ready for no Hall tax in five years.

In his “View From The Hill” column, our Nashville correspondent, Sam Stockard, says the Democratic minorities in the House and Senate are watching the difference of opinion between the Governor and some Republican legislators on the gas tax bill closely.

Some of those Democrats are proposing a larger rollback in the sales tax on groceries than Haslam has in the bill, while some Republicans are working on an alternative bill to take a fourth of a penny off the sales tax rate and devote that revenue to road projects.

Tick-tock for Booksellers at Laurelwood in East Memphis, which is still set to close this month.

A new FedEx brand – FedEx Fulfillmentas in fulfillment centers, the name for a place where businesses manage their inventory. The service includes warehousing, packaging, transportation and reverse logistics and some e-commerce.

A deeper dive on two stories out of City Council on Tuesday – more on the union opposition to the proposed changes in the city’s impasse procedure and Terence Patterson, the president of the Downtown Memphis Commission, wants to make some long-term plans for the street as the council gets another look at just how confusing and complex trying to manage Beale Street can be. In fact, they were specifically told Tuesday that they are “confused” about where things are on Beale.

The March Al Jarreau show at GPAC is cancelled as Jarreau has suddenly announced he will stop touring due to illness.

The Shelby County Real Estate Road Show, which Chandler Reports – the real estate information company that is part of The Daily News Publishing – cosponsors along with the Shelby County Trustee’s office, is Thursday from 5-7 p.m. at MAAR, 6393 Poplar Ave. This is not the actual sale. It’s an information session about the on-line tax sales and also anti-blight measures

There are a lot of mixed signals when it comes to where media is going these days. When people not in this business find out you work for a newspaper they tend to conclude this is a tough business to be in these days. It is in some ways but not the way they usually mean. In the last decade, print media in this town is more competitive than ever from where I sit. Sometimes you will interview someone who wants to know at the outset what your deadline is. That’s a reasonable question when you are writing something that is more gradual. Otherwise, I have started telling them we really don’t have deadlines anymore in that sense and you don’t write a story once – you write different versions for different forums all under the same banner.

One of our competitors is marking its 65th anniversary Saturday. The New Tri-State Defender is a rebranded and overhauled version of the newspaper that covered the modern civil rights movement and every day life in black Memphis starting in 1951. When we do the occasional reporters roundtable on Behind The Headlines, Tri-State publisher Bernal Smith II is a regular part of the proceedings.

Competition makes us all better in this business. Having more than one voice and different perceptions of what is happening in a city we all know is more complex than those on the outside can ever imagine is better for all of us.

Following the Jan. 14 basket-brawl between the LeMoyne-Owen College and Lane College basketball teams in South Memphis, the two teams will meet Thursday afternoon at the National Civil Rights Museum. They will tour the museum together and at a luncheon at the museum former LOC head basketball coach Jerry C. Johnson will talk to them about the long athletic rivalry between the two historically black colleges.

This is all ahead of the LOC-Lane rematch Saturday at Lane. On the Lane campus in Jackson, Tn. there will be a leadership summit and other activities.

As for the Jan. 14 game, it was cancelled by the brawl before it was completed. That game will be replayed on Feb. 14 – yes, Valentine’s Day – at Bruce Hall on the LeMoyne-Owen Campus

In the Memphis Real Estate Recap, details of the hotel brand to come in the old MCA building in South Main and a $5.7 million sale of 5400 Poplar Ave.

An Associated Press Q&A on the earned income tax credit and what it means in this tax season if you make less than $54,000 a year.

Dow and DuPont look to divest to win approval in Europe of their merger.

Retail sales post-holiday season forecast to grow, especially online.

PROPERTY SALES 85 205 21,165
MORTGAGES 76 206 24,338
BUILDING PERMITS 183 321 43,755
BANKRUPTCIES 48 92 13,560