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VOL. 132 | NO. 198 | Thursday, October 5, 2017


Bill Dries

Last Word: Bonus For the Head Tiger, Brooks Downtown? and Harris Runs

By Bill Dries

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A $100,000 bonus from the University of Memphis board of trustees for U of M president David Rudd at Wednesday’s trustees meeting. The bonus is from private funds raised by the university foundation. The board also approved a paid parental leave policy – specifically the funding for that policy. And it reviewed scaled-back plans for the $30 million new rec center for students that will incorporate some of the existing rec center.

It is being called the Center for Health and Wellness. It is one of five major projects on campus -- north and south of the tracks -- that will unfold over the next three to four years.

The other projects include the alumni mall with an amphitheater – a much longer version on both sides of the railroad tracks of the green area where Frisbees once flew outside the old University Center. A land bridge over the railroad tracks that connects the campus better. There is also the football training center. And although it is the lowest dollar figure, let’s not forget the realignment of Patterson ending another Tigers tradition -- adjusting to a three-way stop at a four-sided intersection. Well, sort of an intersection. When will we get to the marker for the location of Paperback Shack?

So, since September when Andy Meek broke the story that the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art was considering a move out of Overton Park, but remaining within Memphis, there has been this background competition among those of us who do this for a living to suss out just where the Brooks will move, IF it does indeed leave Overton Park. And it turns out, the answer may have been out there since last July – months before Brooks made its announcement.

In July, Studio Gang, a consulting group hired by City Hall to come up with a general concept plan for redevelopment of the city’s riverfront area, even put it on a map. We reported on the plan as a whole and in general just like everyone else with the proper amount of caution and notice that this was still pretty tentative and depended on a lot of factors – not the least of which is money.

That plan includes plenty of renderings of what things would look like and maps of where things could go, including the plot of land on the west side of Front Street between Union and Monroe where the Memphis Fire Department headquarters and a fire house with a parking garage next door take up the entire block. That 2-acre plot of land on the Studio Gang map is labeled as a “cultural amenity” – in other words a museum.

It’s still not clear how much of these recent developments, which may be heading for some kind of open declaration as early as the next city council meeting on Oct. 17, are Brooks and how much are City Hall pitching a site – or whether the fire station and garage are one of several options.

If this happens at this place, it is a large catalyst for the riverfront as a whole, not that there aren’t other things happening on a smaller scale like the Fourth Bluff effort we’ve been writing about and specifically the coming renovation work on the Cossitt Library in the mid-century front addition. And as it turns out, the Cossitt is just across Monroe from the parking garage in question.

The other sound of running feet you heard around town Wednesday was around state Senator Lee Harris getting into the 2018 race for Shelby County Mayor – specifically the May Democratic primary. Harris saying he wants to break the mold of what these local campaigns talk about.

Meanwhile, Harris breaking another kind of mold in Tuesday’s forum on Confederate monuments at the U of M Law School with comments about what the city might do or not do around those monuments if next week’s meeting of the Tennessee Historical Commission doesn’t go the city’s way in seeking a waiver to bring down the statues.

Memphis attorney John Ryder, until recently the attorney for the Republican National Committee, in the Wall Street Journal on something he is a nationally recognized expert on -- redistricting -- as the U.S. Supreme Court is hearing a redistricting case that could change the way state legislatures draw the lines for themselves and for the U.S. House. Here is the New York Times for background on the case.

It’s all about Cooper next week at the Center City Revenue Finance Corporation – as in South Cooper Street – the Cooper in Cooper-Young. Two developments are seeking tax breaks – PILOTs from the CCRFC (Acronym Overload). One is the apartment complex across from First Congo that has drawn much attention for its parking plans or the lack of enough parking in the estimation of some critics. The other is the Sheet Metal Workers union hall further north on Cooper past Central which would be the new HQ of archimania.

The new owner of the Southwind Office Center goes with CBRE to handle the leasing for 465,000 square feet.

Further thoughts on Beale Street in what has been a busy week back in the political fire for the entertainment district as it moves into its off-Saturday peak season. When the city council gets together again in two weeks you may see a lot more sparks as the renewed call by some to abolish any cover charge on the street where the blues were born meets a recommendation by others to keep the cover charge in some form.

Pinnacle Bank moves into the top 10 among banks in the Memphis metro area, according to new rankings by the FDIC based on deposits. That would be $315 million in customer deposits in the metro area for the fiscal year that ended June 30.

In his “View From The Hill” column, our Nashville correspondent Sam Stockard encounters little chance that a Medicaid expansion will come up again when the Tennessee Legislature goes back to work and session in January or in special session before that. That’s although House Democratic leader and Democratic contender for governor Craig Fitzhugh has called for a special session following the failure in the U.S. Congress of the latest attempt to do away with Obamacare.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam on a trade trip to Asia next week as he continues to mull a bid for the U.S. Senate.

An MUS basketball player with a name famous in the lore of Memphis basketball comes up with an idea for a nonprofit that raises money for literacy programs through college basketball game day experiences and oversees the literacy programs away from the court. Meet Jonathan Wilfong, investment banker and co-founder with Andrew Renshaw of “Coaching for Literacy.”

On the Amazon watch, a month after kicking off a national competition for its $5 billion HQ2, Amazon has leased up all of the office space in downtown skyscraper in Seattle that hasn’t been built yet. That’s enough room for more than 3,500 additional employees.

PROPERTY SALES 28 290 16,197
MORTGAGES 33 165 10,087
BUILDING PERMITS 184 608 38,544
BANKRUPTCIES 33 125 7,597