VOL. 10 | NO. 24 | Saturday, June 10, 2017
MRG’s Overton Gateway Rejected by Land Use Board
The Overton Park Gateway, a multifamily development proposed by Makowsky Ringel Greenberg LLC, was rejected by the Land Use Control Board Thursday, June 8.
A sizable crowd of Lea’s Woods residents and representatives from various Midtown neighborhood associations showed up to the meeting to voice their opposition. Chief among their complaints were issues with parking and building heights.
Some residents said they were not opposed to developing the vacant lots that sit on either side of Sam Cooper Boulevard where it meets Overton Park, but felt as though the development in its current state did not meet the historic district’s guidelines.
Forrest Owens with ETI, MRG’s land planner, argued the height and density of the development were reasonable considering the size of the heavily traversed intersection, and that the revised plans incorporated elements of the neighborhood’s architecture and also addressed the parking issues.
However, some members of the LUCB disagreed and felt as though the project needed more time in the development stage.
The final vote was 5-1 against the project, with one board member abstaining.
The LUCB decision is a recommendation to the Memphis City Council which is the next stop for the development.
– Patrick Lantrip
Hernando Ice Cream Parlor Preparing Memphis Shop
Area 51 Ice Cream, a popular ice cream parlor in Hernando, Mississippi, is getting ready to open its second location in Crosstown Concourse.
The company filed a roughly $80,000 a permit application with the city-county Office of Construction Code Enforcement to build the new ice cream store at 1350 Concourse Ave. that is scheduled to open sometime in July.
Memphis-based Coleman and Owen Construction is listed as the contractor on the permit.
The original Area 51 opened in May 2014 at 117 W Commerce St. in Hernando.
According to its Facebook page, Area 51 works closely with other small businesses to produce small-batch ice creams, sorbets and baked goods.
– Patrick Lantrip
UrbanArt Commission Vows Better Engagement
After losing $350,000 in city of Memphis funding, the UrbanArt Commission is regrouping, vowing to better engage with the local community while also reaching out to private donors.
The commission also plans to ask for a reinstatement of the lost funding.
The Memphis City Council reduced UrbanArt’s funding in a vote Tuesday, June 6, after several council members said they want to see the city funding used to commission works by Memphis artists only.
“We are confident that this funding will be restored,” reads a statement from the commission.
The cut in city funding does not affect $300,000 in other city funding for the reintroduction of a mural and training program.
In a written statement the day after the council decision, UrbanArt Commission leaders said they are “committed to providing more resources, training and opportunities that will engage more local artists in the creation of public art.”
“We appreciate the concerns that have been voiced by members of the City Council and others in our community about the importance of supporting local artists, and particularly those of color, LGBTQ and women, who are traditionally marginalized,” the statement added.
– Bill Dries
Freewheel Wraps Up Successful 2nd Season
After capping off a successful second season, slow-ride bicycle program Freewheel has announced its final results.
In total, 265 cyclists representing 44 ZIP codes cumulatively covered 1,530 miles burning roughly 61,200 calories, according to the Memphis Medical District Collaborative and Downtown Memphis Commission co-sponsored program.
Freewheel launched its first season last fall in an effort to increase awareness of the Medical District and its surrounding neighbors. The second season, the participants met Wednesdays at in front of a converted shipping container located across from High Cotton Brewing Co. at 603 Monroe Ave.
“Seeing the reputation that Freewheel is growing among its Memphian participants and beyond is incredibly rewarding,” MMDC program and data director Abby Miller said in a statement. “By providing people with an intimate connection to both historic and current activity in the Medical District and its associated neighborhoods, Freewheel is playing an important role in advancing the progress of our revitalization effort.”
Freewheel participants could either bring their own bikes or signed up to borrow from the Medical District fleet, which was restored last fall by the Carpenter Street Bike Shop’s team of trained neighborhood bike mechanics
Freewheel plans to return this fall for a third season. Visit facebook.com/wefreewheel for more information.
– Patrick Lantrip
First Horizon Files Nearly $5M in Permits
The Memphis-based parent company of First Tennessee Bank is moving ahead with a couple of construction projects, including multimillion-dollar updates to its Downtown headquarters.
First Horizon National Corp. has filed three building permit applications totaling $4.8 million.
The largest, valued at $3.1 million, calls for third-floor renovations to the corporate offices at 165 Madison Ave. One valued at $1.1 million, meanwhile, calls for renovations to the building’s second floor.
The third application, valued at $590,000, is for an addition to First Tennessee’s First Ops building at 3451 Prescott Road near Memphis International Airport. Last year the bank announced plans to add a fitness center and cafeteria to the building as part of a restructuring of its Memphis office properties.
All three permits list Linkous Construction Co. as the contractor, ANF Architects as the architect and CSA as the engineer.
– Patrick Lantrip
EDGE Approves Pair Of ICED Loans
Two Memphis businesses are set to receive Inner City Economic Development loans to improve their facilities.
The Economic Development Growth Engine finance committee voted Wednesday, June 7, to award a $20,000 loan to HopeWorks, located at 3337 Summer Ave. in Highland Heights, and a $19,000 loan to Orca Printing, located at 1808 September Ave. in Southeast Memphis.
The forgivable ICED loans will help offset the costs of physical improvements to their locations.
Prior to these loans, EDGE had granted 40 ICED loans totaling a little more than $3 million, which helped sustain 175 jobs and create $8.6 million in capital investments in struggling or up-and-coming neighborhoods.
The loans are funded from the closing fees of EDGE’s larger payment-in-lieu-of-taxes projects.
– Patrick Lantrip
Univ. of Memphis Board OKs Tuition, Salary Hikes
The University of Memphis board of trustees has approved a tuition increase for students, as well as salary increases for employees.
The 2.6 percent tuition increase approved Tuesday, June 6, applies to undergraduate, graduate and law students. Fees will stay the same, but housing rates will rise 5 percent.
Tenured and tenure-track faculty will receive a 2 percent raise with a 1 percent merit, equity and compression pool; and non-tenure track and adjunct faculty will receive a 3 percent increase.
Among other board actions:
• Approved $50,000 salary supplement for President M. David Rudd, to be paid through private funds.
• Approved university operating budgets for fiscal 2017 and 2018.
• Approved capital budget request for fiscal 2019.
• Recommended approval of three new academic programs: bachelor’s and doctoral degrees in commercial aviation, both through the University College, and a master’s degree in biostatistics through the School of Public Health.
• Appointed Taylor Mayberry as student trustee;
• Approved the appointment of Darrell C. Ray as vice president for student affairs.
• Recommended that Dr. Shirley C. Raines be granted the title of president emeritus.
• Endorsed the development of a parental leave policy and related financial model for funding to be reviewed at the fall meeting.
The next board of trustees meeting will be Oct. 4.
– Don Wade
Grizzlies to Hold Tryouts For Entertainment Teams
The Memphis Grizzlies will host open tryouts at Landers Center in Southaven on Sunday, July 9, for the next performers to join their live entertainment teams.
Like the Grizz Girls, the Grizzlies’ live entertainment squads will perform at all Grizzlies home games and represent the team at promotional and community events in Memphis and the surrounding region.
An open casting call is out for performers of all ages and backgrounds for the following groups: Grizzlies Grannies & Grandpas, Grizzline, Blue Bunch and Claw Crew. Also, the Grizzlies are offering preparatory classes in advance of the tryouts.
For more information on classes, tryouts and registration times, visit grizzlies.com.
– Don Wade
Railgarten Could Be Back At Memphis City Council
The Memphis City Council may have more questions about the Railgarten bar/restaurant in Midtown.
The council questioned the development’s addition of intermodal containers and an outside area after the council approved a special use permit earlier this year.
But those questions and concerns appeared to be resolved after the council held a rare evidentiary hearing at its May 23 session and then in effect ratified the earlier decision to grant the special use permit.
But councilman Reid Hedgepeth had the item pulled from the minutes of the May 23 meeting before they were approved at the Tuesday, June 6, council meeting.
Hedgepeth said he had new questions about the development that will likely be discussed in council committee sessions later this month.
In other action Tuesday, the council approved $6 million from city reserves requested by Mayor Jim Strickland to pay for storm debris removal, with half going to removing the debris curbside and the other half going to pay for city crews to help residents who aren’t able to get their storm debris curbside.
It also approved $500,000 in capital funding as a last-dollar grant toward the construction of a new indoor pool at the Whitehaven YMCA that the Y is working with Methodist Healthcare to build. Council member Patrice Robinson, who proposed the grant, said the remaining $2 million would be raised by private donors.
The council delayed approval of the Downtown Memphis Commission budget until Sept. 6. The DMC budget includes no city government funding, but because it is a quasi-government body, the DMC’s budget goes to the council for approval.
Council chairman Berlin Boyd said he has questions about how the DMC uses the money from assessments of businesses in the Downtown district it covers.
“I think you guys will be fine,” he told DMC president Terence Patterson of the delay. “You are a subsidiary of the city. I don’t think we put you guys in place to make money. Your salaries are pretty high over there as well.”
The council also delayed final approval of ordinances raising storm water and sanitary sewer fees.
And the council delayed for two weeks a final vote on a freeze in the city’s deferred retirement option program called for by the administration to retain police officers who are otherwise set to retire. The police and fire unions oppose the freeze, which would be the third one in two years.
– Bill Dries
Huey’s Makes Donation To Millington Crisis Center
Huey’s has made a $5,000 donation to the Millington Crisis Center.
The donation was collected from the guests, friends and families at three soft opening parties prior to the grand opening of Huey’s ninth location in Millington.
Guests were asked to make a monetary donation to the Millington Crisis Center in lieu of paying for their meal and drinks. Along with the guests’ donations, Huey’s contributed a percentage of drink sales from products donated by AS Barboro Inc., Eagle Distributing Co., West TN Crown Distributing Co., Delta Wholesale and High Cotton Brewing Co.
The Millington Crisis Center coordinates assistance through donations and community resources to families in need from crisis situations.
– Andy Meek
100 North Main Foreclosure Auction Delayed Again
A scheduled foreclosure auction of the 100 North Main building on the steps of the Judge D’Army Bailey County Courthouse was delayed again Wednesday, June 7.
The tallest building in the city of Memphis has been scheduled for a foreclosure auction eight times since IMH Memphis LLC bought the 37-story tall building in August 2015 from One Hundred North Main LLC, the company owned by Yitzchok “Isaac” Thomas. Thomas had purchased the building in 2013 with plans for multiuse development that never got beyond renderings.
In recent weeks new plywood barriers have gone up across ground-floor windows of the 37-story tall skyscraper built in 1965 as office space with a revolving restaurant on top.
The next foreclosure auction on the courthouse steps, in the shadow of the 100 North Main building, is scheduled for July 12 at noon.
– Bill Dries
Methodist Healthcare Executive Retires
Dave Rosenbaum, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare’s vice president of facilities management, has announced his plans to retire beginning June 23.
Rosenbaum has worked at Methodist for the past 23 years managing the operation of more than 5 million square feet of facilities, including 3 million square feet of hospital space.
He was responsible for the capital construction program that has invested more than $500 million in construction in the past five years.
He also managed the sustainability program for Methodist that resulted in all-new construction being built within LEED standards, implementation of green initiatives in day-to-day operations, and a commitment to the economic sustainability of the community.
Methodist Le Bonheur's director of construction management Richard Kelley has been selected to be Rosenbaum’s replacement as vice president of facilities management.
– Andy Meek
Poplar Healthcare Acquires Genetics of Memphis
Memphis-based laboratory services company Poplar Healthcare has acquired Genetics of Memphis, a cytogenetics reference laboratory led by Drs. Sugandhi Tharapel and Avirachan T. Tharapel.
Cytogenetics, the study of chromosome structure and function in a cell during cell division, is a diagnostic tool for physicians monitoring high-risk pregnancies and reproductive concerns, delineating congenital abnormalities and defining hematological disorders.
In addition, Genetics of Memphis is licensed by the Tennessee Board of Education as an accredited cytogenetics training facility, making it one of only five such schools in the United States. As part of the acquisition, the training facility will be transferred to Poplar Healthcare.
“I am also pleased to report that we were able to expand the number of students that Poplar Healthcare can accept into the program,” said Poplar Healthcare CEO James Sweeney. “This will enable us to train more students that wish to enter the exciting field of cyto and molecular genetics.”
Dr. Sugandhi Tharapel said the acquisition will allow the company to provide more services to its clients.
“Poplar Healthcare’s expanded menu of molecular testing services, including next-generation sequencing of hematologic and solid tumors, is an important extension to clinical cytogenetics,” she said. “It is where the field is headed. By joining Poplar Healthcare, we can expand our service offerings and help improve patient care.”
– Daily News staff
Le Bonheur Rated High For Pediatric Heart Surgeries
Consumer Reports has named Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital a top hospital for pediatric heart surgeries based on surgical outcomes from its Heart Institute.
The study used data compiled by the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, a professional group representing heart and chest surgeons. In 2015, STS launched a voluntary public reporting program for congenital heart surgery, with 117 hospitals agreeing to submit data. Fifty of the hospitals agreed to share that information with Consumer Reports, making this the first such ratings of hospitals that perform pediatric heart surgery.
To rate a hospital, statisticians compared the percentage of its patients who die in the hospital or within 30 days of discharge, after adjusting for the difficulty of the patients’ cases, as determined by the types of procedures that were performed and how sick patients were at the time of surgery.
– Daily News staff
Redbirds’ Weaver Named PCL Player of the Month
The Pacific Coast League has named Memphis Redbirds starting pitcher Luke Weaver its player of the month for May. Weaver was chosen in a vote by the league’s managers.
Weaver made six starts for the Redbirds in May and went 5-1 with a 2.19 ERA (9er/37.0ip). Across his outings, he struck out 37 with just six walks. During the month, the 23-year-old paced the league in wins, and was second in ERA, innings pitched, and fewest runs and walks allowed (minimum 35 IP). He also ranked fourth in strikeouts and ninth in WHIP (1.00).
Weaver’s dominance helped the Redbirds put together an 11-game winning streak from April 28 to May 8, which was the longest in franchise history. In his first two starts after returning from missing 22 games due to injury, he tossed 13 shutout innings in two wins and did not issue a walk. He allowed just seven total hits in the two starts, and combined to strike out nine. He capped the month off on Memorial Day with a seven-inning performance against Iowa, in which he tied his season-high with nine strikeouts.
This is the first career league player of the month award for Weaver, who was named the Cardinals’ organization pitcher of the month in July 2015 and June 2016. He is also the reigning minor league pitcher of the year in the St. Louis system. Baseball America has rated him the No. 2 prospect in the organization, while MLB.com has ranked him No. 3.
– Don Wade
Study Ranks Tennessee 35th-Strongest Economy
Tennessee has the 35th best economy in the U.S. and would have ranked higher if not for the state’s overall innovation potential. That’s according to a new study by financial planning website WalletHub, which compared key economic indicators of all 50 states and the District of Columbia for performance and strength.
WalletHub’s 2017’s Best & Worst State Economies looked at 27 economic indicators. The overall rankings of each state were tabulated based on rankings in three main areas – economic activity, economic health and innovation potential – with each of the three categories accounting for one-third of a state’s score.
Tennessee ranked 29th in economic activity, higher than most states in the Southeast, and 17th in economic health, which factors in several indicators related to employment, household income, health insurance and growth in the number of businesses from 2015 to 2016. Only Florida, North Carolina and Texas in the southeastern U.S. ranked higher than Tennessee in economic health.
The Volunteer State lagged the nation in innovation potential, however, ranking 44th overall. That category included economic indicators such as jobs in high-tech industries, inventor patents, research and development investment, and entrepreneurial activity.
WalletHub analysts used data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics and 10 other respected sources, such as the National Science Foundation, to collect information for the economic study.
– Daily News staff
Rotary Considers Moving Lunch to Clayborn Temple
The board of the Rotary Club of Memphis is considering a move of its weekly Tuesday luncheon meeting to Clayborn Temple.
The club currently meets at the University Club after a move from the Memphis Cook Convention Center and a much longer stay before that at The Peabody hotel.
A statement in the club’s bulletin last week terms the proposed move “strategic in nature.”
“It enhances our community outreach,” the statement reads, in part. “It positions us to better position our club to fulfill these goals. It positions us to better serve the downtown community and it should increase our appeal in attracting new members. The proposed move will send a strong statement of support in honor of our local history.”
The church is more than 100 years old and is best known as the starting point for protest marches during the 1968 sanitation workers strike. It reopened for civic events in the last year as its owners look for permanent public uses beyond Sunday services for The Downtown Church. The owners are raising money for a larger restoration of the structure.
The Rotary Club regularly draws a group of 100 to 130 people to a ballroom at the University Club. Clayborn Temple has a capacity of up to 500 people.
– Bill Dries
TVA’s New Allen Plant 75 Percent Complete
The Tennessee Valley Authority’s Allen Combined Cycle Plant in southwest Memphis is 75 percent complete as of the end of May, according to TVA.
The $1 billion power plant is slated for completion in June 2018, and the 75 percent milestone at the end of May means it is on schedule so far.
The plant, which will rely on natural gas to generate electricity, will replace TVA’s coal-powered Allen Fossil Plant, on the other side of Riverport Road from the new facility. The 60-year-old coal-powered plant is set to close at the end of 2018.
The project also calls for a solar farm and a renewable biogas facility that will allow TVA to burn biogas, which is primarily made of methane, in an auxiliary boiler to produce steam.
“This biogas is a waste stream from the neighboring Maxson Wastewater Treatment Plant and would otherwise be incinerated, if not beneficially reused,” said Dan Tibbs, TVA’s general manager, major projects.
Together, the renewable energy produced from the solar farm and the biogas facility will power around 3,000 homes and businesses, Tibbs estimates.
TVA estimates it will spend $240 million directly in Shelby County in the construction of the plant. It reports it already has spent $56 million with Shelby County contractors, $75 million on craft labor and $60 million on city infrastructure.
– Bill Dries
WUMR to Kick Off Radiothon June 25
University of Memphis radio station WUMR 91.7 FM “The Jazz Lover” is kicking off its annual Jazz in June Radiothon fundraiser this month with help from a pair of Memphis recording artists.
Gary Goin and Pat Register – known together as Dual Drive – will perform music from their latest release, “The Memphis Project,” at the Jazz in June Kickoff Party June 25 from 6 to 8 p.m. at The New Daisy Theatre, 330 Beale St. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. The event is the official concert celebration for the radiothon, which begins at 10 a.m. that day and ends July 2.
Goin is leader of the house band for the Memphis Grizzlies, guitarist for Kirk Whalum’s band and a highly sought-after studio guitarist. Register is a local saxophonist who has recorded several albums of his own, as well as a founding member of the group Voodoo Village.
WUMR’s yearly radiothon raises funds to help operate WUMR, including staff salaries and equipment to provide quality jazz to the city of Memphis. The station is part of the Department of Communication in the U of M’s College of Communication and Fine Arts. An element of the station’s mission is to train communication and journalism students in broadcasting.
Tickets for the kickoff party are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. University of Memphis students get in free with their ID. Visit memphis.edu/wumr to buy tickets or make a donation to the station.
– Don Wade
Survey: Economists Expect Slower US Growth
Forecasts for U.S. economic growth are coming in slightly lower after a weak first quarter, according to a survey of business economists released Monday, June 5.
The National Association for Business Economists says it’s expecting gross domestic product growth of 2.2 percent this year and 2.4 percent in 2018. Those forecasts are down 0.1 percentage points from a survey in March. The survey is based on responses from 52 professional forecasters.
The gross domestic product – the broadest gauge of the economy – expanded in the January-March quarter at a 1.2 percent annual rate. That was better than initially forecast, but still weak. Unseasonably warm weather was one reason for the slow growth, since it limited spending on utilities.
Economists forecast GDP growth will rise 3.1 percent in the April-June period and 2.5 percent in the second half of the year. They’re forecasting solid hiring and a low, 4.5-percent unemployment rate, which should help boost consumer spending. Inflation also is expected to remain in check.
Most of the economists surveyed believe President Donald Trump will enact an infrastructure plan and cut corporate and individual taxes before the end of 2018. That will have a positive impact on economic growth, but likely not until 2018, the survey said.
There are downside risks. Just over one-third of the panelists say trade protectionism, a strong U.S. dollar and higher interest rates could pose a risk to the economy in 2018. But 60 percent say there’s more chance of an upside risk thanks to expected corporate tax reform, individual tax cuts and infrastructure spending.
Nearly all the panelists – 95 percent – think the chance of a recession this year is 25 percent or less.
– The Associated Press
Grizzlies’ D-League Team Named ‘Memphis Hustle’
The Memphis Grizzlies have announced their new NBA Development League affiliate team name and logo, Memphis Hustle, which will debut this coming 2017-18 season when the league will be renamed the NBA Gatorade League.
Led by head coach Glynn Cyprien, the Memphis Hustle will practice at the Built Ford Tough Training Facility at FedExForum and play their 24 home games at the 8,400-seat Landers Center in Southaven. Memphis Hustle founding partners include The Coca-Cola Co., Tanger Outlets and The Guest House at Graceland.
“Our philosophy from the outset with our D-League expansion team is that it should in all ways be and feel intrinsic to our Grizzlies organization and not adjunct to it,” said Jason Wexler, Grizzlies president of business operations. “Our goal is for the team to be woven into the fabric of our basketball operations and our business operations, our culture and our identity.”
Inspired by the cultural ethos of Memphis and the Mid-South, the team name, Memphis Hustle, encapsulates the idea of hard work and persistence, a nod to the grit-and-grind culture of the city, the region and its fan base.
The team name’s typeface on its logo – with a grizzly bear’s head as the backdrop – was designed with the region’s music history, Beale Street neon and the flow of the Mighty Mississippi in mind. It ends with a star inside the “e” of hustle, paying tribute to the region’s biggest names and looking ahead to the Grizzlies stars of tomorrow.
The vibrant red color pays homage to historical sports franchises like the Memphis Sounds, Chicks, Showboats and Americans, and current regional teams like the Memphis Redbirds and Ole Miss Rebels. For more details and information on the name, logo and its inspiration, visit memphishustle.com.
– Don Wade
Crye Ranked Among Top Residential Power Brokers
Harold Crye, co-founder and CEO of Memphis-based Crye-Leike Real Estate Services, has been named to the 2017 Swanepoel Power 200 (SP200) list, which lists the 200 most powerful leaders in the residential real estate industry.
He was the only Tennessee real estate broker in the top 20.
Crye-Leike is a full-service real estate company that is the fifth-largest independently owned real estate firm in the U.S.
Crye, who co-founded Crye-Leike in 1997 with partner and president, Dick Leike, said the listing is a reflection of the hard work and success of the more than 3,100 independent real estate agents affiliated with Crye-Leike and the more than 800 employees who support them.
“It is an honor to be recognized as a leader by a prestigious organization in the real estate industry because it shows we are making a difference in real estate every day,” Crye said.
“We didn’t set out to become the biggest real estate brokerage, just to grow by providing the best real estate sale services around, to our agents and their clients. We have become an industry leader by doing the right things the right way and never forgetting that Crye-Leike succeeds when its agents succeed.”
The SP200 is produced and published annually by the Swanepoel T3 Group, a research and consulting firm. In addition to more than 600 hours of research, T3 Group analyzes the personal influence, tenure, decision-making power and financial resources of candidates for the list.
“We aim to hold a mirror up to the industry, reflecting residential real estate back to itself by noting who wields the most power and influence, whether by position, personal power, employee count, reputation and trajectory,” said Swanepoel T3 Group CEO Stefan Swanepoel.
– Daily News staff
Claims for Jobless Benefits Fall to 245,000 Nationwide
Fewer Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week as most U.S. workers continue to enjoy job security.
The Labor Department said Thursday that claims for jobless aid fell by 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 245,000 last week. The less-volatile, four-week average rose by 2,250 to 242,000.
Applications for unemployment benefits are a proxy for layoffs. They’ve come in below 300,000, a historically low figure, for 118 straight weeks, the longest such streak since 1970.
Overall, nearly 1.92 million people were collecting unemployment checks, down nearly 10 percent from a year ago. The four-week average number of Americans receiving jobless aid was 1.91 million, lowest since January 1974.
The job market is healthy, though hiring has slowed recently – partly because employers can’t find workers when the unemployment rate is at a 16-year low of 4.3 percent.
The economy has generated 162,000 jobs a month so far this year – up from an average 157,000 a month from January through May last year, but down from an average 187,000 a month for all of 2016.
“Claims remain low, consistent with the trend in employment growth remaining more than strong enough to keep the unemployment rate trending down,” Jim O’Sullivan, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, said in a research note.
– The Associated Press