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VOL. 132 | NO. 5 | Friday, January 6, 2017


Bill Dries

Last Word: Booksellers Options, New Parking Spaces and The Memphis Open

By Bill Dries

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Somewhere in the back of our minds, I think most of us knew there were probably some circumstances under which Booksellers at Laurelwood might remain open. And as it turns out there are some terms the owner is talking about just past the post-New Year’s shock of work that the store will close in February.

There is probably going to be a move to change one of the terms set by the Memphis City Council last year for resolving the Overton Park Greensward controversy. And it’s a very specific, yet key one – the dimensions of the parking spaces on the reconfigured and expanded Memphis Zoo parking lot. Some of those on the city committee working out the details of exactly how to create 415 new parking spaces want to revisit the 10 foot by 20 foot dimensions included by the council in the compromise between the zoo and the Overton Park Conservancy.

Before you grab your sign or put up the metal barrier, Thursday’s committee discussion was just that. No one has moved to try to change the parking lot dimensions. But it is at least going to be talked about. And it seems pretty clear at the outset that if the committee tries to change it, it can’t do that without the city council signing off on it.

Judging by our conversations with several city council members on “Behind The Headlines,” the council is not going to be anxious to reopen the terms of the settlement.

More background on the convention center hotel proposal that surfaced this week in a very general and tentative form.

Crosstown Concourse is on track for a May 13 opening with the move-in this week of its first residents. Here’s a rundown of the timeline between now and the May formalities.

“Behind The Headlines” this week is a review of the events of 2016 some predictions for the year ahead by a roundtable of journalists. The show airs Friday at 7 p.m. on WKNO TV.

The cover story in our weekly, The Memphis News, looks at the coming of Donald Trump to The White House from a Memphis and Tennessee perspective. The closer the Jan. 20 inauguration gets, the more we are finding that this is becoming a nuts-and-bolts perspective especially on Obamacare. And our players on both sides of the partisan aisle are finding it more and more difficult to just consider what Trump will do without considering what Congress will do and on what timetable. Congress may offer more comfort in terms of trying to predict where things will go than a candidate our observers agree is a President-elect whose political ideology is still developing.

More speculation about the kind of gas tax hike Gov. Bill Haslam will propose in the 2017 legislative session that opens Tuesday. The AP story shows there are plenty of numbers floating around with the administration not yet committed to a specific proposal.

Before the session gets underway, one legislator has taken a first step toward running for governor in 2018 and others can’t be far behind. State Rep. Mark Green has been making some preliminary campaign appearances including here in Shelby County since last year in his bid.

The potential Republican field, including him and state Senator Mark Norris of Collierville, is at five. And AP counts three prospective Democratic contenders.

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant says he wants to update that state’s school funding formula which he says is now a “1992 model.”

The Tigers beat the Huskies at the Forum Thursday evening 70 – 61.

In our Friday sports section:

Before the Memphis Open gets underway in February at the Racquet Club, we know that Kei Nishikori will not repeat as the tournament champion for a fifth straight year. Nishikori will not be defending his title Feb. 11-19 at the Open. The city’s top tennis event has five players in the top 35 worldwide. John Isner tops the field announced this week as the top-ranked American for five straight years.

And tournament director Erin Mazurek talks about winning back Open devotees as well as patrons who look at the event as a place to see the best rising talent in tennis up close.

Don Wade with some thoughts ahead of Monday’s Alabama-Clemson college football championship game.

David Climer in Nashville on Butch Jones’ timing now that the Music City Bowl is done and UT settles into a pensive off season.

Dave Link in Knoxville ranks the great UT quarterbacks and Joshua Dobbs is on but not atop the list. Some blasts from the past in his top 10: Condredge Holloway, Heath Shuler.

Terry McCormick in Titans-land on a rosier off-season glow there than in Knoxville.

A comedian who stopped to ask directions to a comedy club helped create Michael Jr., a comedian coming to town later this month who is playing Hope Presbyterian Church on a winding road that has included “The Tonight Show,” a prison, the country’s best known comedy clubs and a prison – perhaps the definition of a tough audience.

PROPERTY SALES 50 389 12,758
MORTGAGES 21 248 8,003
BUILDING PERMITS 295 813 29,934
BANKRUPTCIES 35 164 6,064