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VOL. 132 | NO. 131 | Monday, July 3, 2017


Bill Dries

Last Word: Corporate Musical Chairs, Another Dollar General and Ronnie Grisanti

By Bill Dries

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The three-way deal by which Memphis-based Fred’s was to buy hundreds of Rite-Aid stores from Walgreens just keeps getting worse for Fred’s even though the deal happened last week without Fred’s. An analyst says Fred’s got cut out because of questions about the corporation’s viability to enter into what is an ambitious change of course for the company on a large scale.

Meanwhile, some musical chairs in the location of various corporate headquarters in the Memphis area. Thomas & Betts Corp. is moving from Southwind to Ridgeway Center in East Memphis in what is the current HQ of ServiceMaster Global Holdingsa story we broke at week’s end. ServiceMaster’s move to the former Peabody Place Mall Downtown in imminent. The third player in this is Sedgwick Claims Management Services which announced earlier this year they will be moving into the Thomas & Betts digs in Southwind where Sedgwick can consolidate its current offices at Ridgeway Loop and at Thousand Oaks. Still some questions about whether this is just the Thomas and Betts segment of the ABB presence in Memphis or the entire ABB Electrification Products division.

Some of you have Monday off. Others have a work day followed by a day off on Tuesday. Have no fear, there are fireworks both days.

Waiting on a very different kind of fireworks since the Grizz moved into the free agent period Saturday. So far all is quiet except for some rumors about Z-Bo and Cleveland. Here is the very latest update from Don Wade including some Tigers football and basketball commitments – because that’s what we do when we’re waiting on other things.

A group of 133 new state laws took effect in Tennessee as of Saturday. Here is an Associated Press rundown of them.

How many Dollar General stores is too many? The Board of Adjustment approved last week a retail center at Summer and Holmes Road on the old site of The Cottage restaurant. And the plan it to anchor the 7,500 square foot retail center with a Dollar General store and keep the current billboard on the site.

The new Dollar General would be in addition to one further east on Summer in French Village Square which is 1.6 miles away or about a 3 minute drive. That’s not to be confused with the Dollar General store at 5841 Summer which is 6.5 miles away from the proposed one.

There’s the one at 2450 Central Avenue by Christian Brothers University which is 3.4 miles away from the proposed site on Summer. The store at 1324 Getwell is 5.4 miles away. And the Dollar General store at 6690 Macon Road is 7.1 miles away. The longest drive from Summer and Holmes to any of those stores is 12 minutes.

Oh, almost forgot the Dollar General at 3444 Jackson Avenue which is 1.7 miles away. That’s a walk across the Big River Crossing without the river.

That is six Dollar General stores currently within 7 miles of the new store site.

In East Memphis last week, the formal opening of an access point to the Shelby Farms Greenline that was thought about at the beginning of this in 2010. But the public was on the greenline before its completion. It was such a hit out of the box that the priority quickly shifted to getting the greenline itself done. Now the Perkins and Princeton access point is open in a neighborhood full of enthusiastic Greenline veterans. Next up? Appling Road access?

The Greenline is one part of the city’s evolving tourism identity and that is what Jody Callahan reviews in this week’s cover story in The Memphis News. It includes a controversial survey where visitors’ concerns about crime and their difficulty getting around, especially if they are used to public transportation, had an impact on our ranking relative to other cities. And there is much discussion about what happens next not just with the Memphis Cook Convention Center, but the hotel situation around it.

U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee in a lengthy post on Facebook Saturday called President Donald Trump’s recent Twitter tirades “inappropriate and pointless,” earning shares and likes from some local Democratic partisans who in the past have been nothing but critical of Blackburn in the harshest terms. Blackburn was on Trump’s transition team and a featured speaker at the 2016 Republican convention where he claimed the GOP nomination. Blackburn’s Facebook post is no slap on the wrist for Trump.

“While the President is human, and fallible like the rest of us, this current trend needs to stop,” she wrote. “This week’s tweets were a step way too far, regardless of what personal exchanges or insults had been hurled. From health care to immigration to trade to infrastructure to terrorism, there are far too many pressing issues facing this country for petty squabbles to be on the President’s radar. I respectfully request, Mr. President, that you turn your focus to the issues we are working on in Congress – the positive solutions we are trying to get to your desk to make America great again. You are delivering on your promises, as are we. Let’s talk more about those and less about one another. The American people would be grateful.”

This would be before the Sunday Tweet that included the wrestling video and the CNN reference.

Politico including former Memphis Mayor A C Wharton among those commenting on the greatest risk cities face and Wharton’s contribution is under the heading “punitive state legislatures” – calling state governments “brazen hypocrites of the system.”

“They complain endlessly about mandates from Washington, then turn around and impose crippling restraints on urban governments seeking to cope with 21st-century problems. … In the end, this will have to involve a legal challenge. The power grab might have constitutional underpinnings, but it is also a denial of fair play too blatant to ignore. Fashion a sophisticated defense of local sovereignty, and sooner or later, some court, somewhere, will listen to it.”

East of us… Republican state Senator Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro is running for Rutherford County Mayor in 2018. This is his fourth bid for that county’s top job, reports The Daily News Journal. Ketron is the chairman of the Republican caucus in the Senate.

A new Peabody Hotel is planned for Roanoke, Texas – a booming suburb of Dallas-Fort Worth – with the proposed site in the same area where a new city hall is being built. More from The Star-Telegram.

The formal launch was Friday of the Royal Radio app. That’s right, the South Memphis studio started by Joe Cuoghi to make his own records for his own record store – Poplar Tunes; where Al Green changed the 1970s with Willie Mitchell producing and where Uptown Funk was recorded – has its own radio app broadcasting from Willie Mitchell Boulevard in South Memphis. This is past and present with the hosts ranging from Preston Shannon to Barbara Blue to Rev. Charles Hodges to Frayser Boy, DJ Bay and Lila Hood.

Ronnie Grisanti died Friday. If you are looking for a significant part of our city’s history that tends to fly just below the radar – it is the stories of family-owned restaurants in a city where food is a part of the culture as well as a personal experience. Because these businesses are family, at times there is some turbulence. Grisanti started his own branch of the family business at Union and Marshall next to Sun Records in the 1970s. Grisanti’s was among the first tenants when the new Beale Street opened. Then began the journey east starting in Chickasaw Gardens.

The Memphis News Almanac: Mike Conley’s free agent deal and Chandler Parsons arrives; Southwestern to Rhodes; a plan to reroute Union Avenue: Prohibition comes and is ignored and dog racing by the Harahan Bridge.

PROPERTY SALES 56 56 9,658
MORTGAGES 49 49 10,665
BUILDING PERMITS 212 212 21,170
BANKRUPTCIES 49 49 6,157