VOL. 10 | NO. 37 | Saturday, September 9, 2017
Strickland: Memphis to Make Bid for Amazon HQ
Hours after Amazon’s Thursday, Sept. 7, announcement that it plans to open a second North American headquarters, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said the city will be putting its name in the hat.
Strickland made the announcement via Twitter by retweeting a USA Today article with the caption: “We’re on it. We’ll absolutely make a bid. The @CityOfMemphis has so much to offer!”
Amazon said it plans on investing more than $5 billion and bringing as many as 50,000 “high-paying” jobs to the new campus, which will be known as HQ2.
“We expect HQ2 to be a full equal to our Seattle headquarters,” Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said in a release. “Amazon HQ2 will bring billions of dollars in up-front and ongoing investments, and tens of thousands of high-paying jobs. We’re excited to find a second home.”
For reference, Amazon’s Seattle headquarters is comprised of 33 buildings totaling 8.1 million square feet. In addition to the 40,000 Amazon employees, the campus has 24 on-site restaurants and cafes.
The company estimates that from 2010 to 2016, the Seattle headquarters injected $38 billion into the local economy.
Amazon said that when choosing a location for the second headquarters, it will be looking for metropolitan areas with more than 1 million people, urban or suburban locations with the potential to attract and retain strong technical talent, and communities that think big and creatively when considering locations and real estate options.
Currently, Amazon employs more than 380,000 people worldwide and was ranked 12th in the 2017 Fortune 500 list.
– Patrick Lantrip
CMOM Carousel Pavilion Slated for November Debut
The highly anticipated return of the Grand Carousel – a popular attraction for years at Libertyland – is on schedule with a grand opening expected in about two months at the Children’s Museum of Memphis.
The carousel, one of the oldest all-horse carousels in the nation, will be located in the Grand Carousel Pavilion and Ballroom, a 20,000-square-foot expansion to CMOM that began last summer.
The carousel was built in 1909 by William H. Dentzel, and its all-wooden elements were hand-carved by artisans. All of the carved pieces have been completely restored and repainted to the original Dentzel fall color scheme by Carousels & Carvings Inc. in Marion, Ohio.
CMOM chief operating officer Art Davis said the carousel had undergone many restorations and preservation efforts over the years and that much of it was damaged, especially some wood in the center panel along with the ceiling panels.
The ride includes 48 horses (32 jumpers and 16 standers) along with two chariots and 1,350 lights, all of which had to be rewired to bring the carousel up to code.
One of the original chariots will be relocated to the pavilion adjacent to the carousel, where it will be available for photo opportunities. Taking its place on the ride will be a replacement replica chariot that is ADA-compliant.
“Many of the tails of horses were also damaged, so some re-carving had to be done,” Davis said.
The museum’s $4.8 million expansion includes a 20-foot lobby with glass on the north and south sides, as well as a large banquet hall that is available for special events of up to 300 people.
Designshop pllc is the architecture and design firm for the project, and Montgomery Martin Contractors handled the construction work on the new carousel building, which attaches to older 1940s-era buildings on the property.
“For the carousel restoration, we received money from FedEx, the Plough Foundation and numerous donors, and we have a pledge from the Assisi Foundation (of Memphis) for the building,” said CMOM chief financial officer Randy McKeel, who estimates tickets to the ride will generate a minimum of $240,000 per year based on last year’s attendance numbers.
The cost per ride for nonmembers will be $3, and museum members and school groups will be able to ride for free.
– Michael Waddell
Alchemy Owners Buy Interim Restaurant
The owners of Cooper-Young’s Alchemy Memphis are buying East Memphis eatery Interim Restaurant & Bar.
Tony Westmoreland, executive chef Nick Scott, and Ed and Brittany Cabigao are purchasing Interim, located at 5040 Sanderlin Ave., from Eat Here Brands, which also owns Babalu in Overton Square.
David Krog will continue in his role as Interim’s executive chef.
Scott, executive chef at Alchemy, is familiar with Interim’s Sanderlin Avenue locale. He was part of the team that opened Wally Joe in that location in 2002.
– Daily News staff
Graceland: Arena Won’t Compete With Forum
The managing partner of Graceland Holdings LLC says the plan for a new Whitehaven arena with 5,000 to 6,000 seats isn’t to compete with any venue in Memphis and Shelby County.
“The event center is not looking to usurp any other venues in the city and county,” Graceland Holdings CEO Joel Weinshanker told Shelby County Commissioners at a Wednesday, Sept. 6, committee session briefing on the project, which is slated to cost between $40 million and $50 million. “A lot of what we are going to do is create new opportunities.”
Set to open in 2019, the arena is the latest expansion on the 120 acres Graceland owns in Whitehaven. It follows the $90 million, 450-room Guest House at Graceland hotel-resort, which opened last October, and the $45 million Elvis Presley’s Memphis entertainment complex, which opened in March.
Graceland is seeking a higher percentage of the property tax increment it currently draws from the 20-year tax increment financing, or TIF, zone that is limited to the Graceland campus – specifically the 120 acres owned by Elvis Presley Enterprises.
Attorney James McLaren, representing Graceland, said the company will be taking an application in the next week to the Economic Development Growth Engine to increase its draw on the TIF from 50 percent to 65 percent on both city and county property taxes.
Weinshanker talked about the arena as being a staging point for Memphis-based productions that would then go on tour around the world and use Memphis musicians and other local talent. The first would be a gospel music touring show Graceland is creating with Sony.
Weinshanker never specifically mentioned FedExForum when he talked about competition, other than to say he had reviewed four years of bookings at the Downtown arena and didn’t find any shows the Whitehaven arena would compete for.
He said the center would not go after children’s shows or similar shows that might take place during daylight hours.
“Frankly we don’t have the parking to have a packed Graceland and a packed arena,” he said. “If we are going to be taking events away from anyone, it will be in Mississippi.”
Later Weinshanker specifically mentioned Landers Center, the 10,000-seat arena in Southaven that has benefited from the gap in Memphis indoor venues between the 2,300 seats in The Orpheum Theatre and the nearly 20,000-seat FedExForum.
The Whitehaven venue would have a $1-per-seat surcharge on events that charge more than $15 per seat. That money would go to EDGE to be used to encourage development anywhere in Shelby County.
– Bill Dries
Anderson Leaving As ASD Superintendent
Malika Anderson is stepping down as superintendent of the state-run Achievement School District effective at the end of September after being with the turnaround school district for the state’s lowest-performing schools since its inception in 2012 and as superintendent since January 2016.
Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen announced Anderson’s resignation Wednesday, Sept. 6. Tennessee Education deputy commissioner and chief operations officer Kathleen Airhart will be interim superintendent. Airhart is a former superintendent of Putnam County, Tennessee, schools and was named Tennessee Superintendent of the Year in 2011.
The ASD is a school district for the bottom 5 percent of schools in the state in terms of student achievement. All but two of the 32 schools in the statewide district are in Memphis, with most run by charter operators under contract with the Achievement School District.
Anderson’s resignation comes at a time of change for the role of the ASD, particularly its ability to take over failing schools unilaterally.
That has changed with new federal Every Student Succeeds Act rules that give a local school district the first chance at a turnaround model to improve schools that are new to the bottom 5 percent list. Only after that effort can a state consider a takeover.
McQueen also said the goal in picking a permanent successor to Anderson is to build on the ASD’s work over the last five school years.
“This transition in no way disrupts our work,” McQueen said of Anderson’s departure. “We are taking what we have learned about school improvement over the past five years and using that knowledge to maximize students’ success by putting in place a strong set of evidence-based options that will drive improvements in students’ performance.”
– Bill Dries
Elvis’ Baby Grand Piano Returning to Graceland
A white baby grand piano Elvis Presley bought for the music room of Graceland shortly after moving in is returning to the Whitehaven mansion after a restoration.
The refurbished 1912 Knabe, which features gold accents, will be unveiled at the mansion in December and played during shows at Elvis Presley’s Memphis – the entertainment complex across Elvis Presley Boulevard from the mansion – as part of a first-ever Graceland holiday concert weekend Dec. 15 and 16.
The music room at Graceland is being restored with original white-and-blue draperies and a gold couch. All were elements of the room in 1964.
Presley bought the piano in 1957 from Jack Marshall Piano-Organs of Memphis for $818.85 and refurbished it.
The piano remained at Graceland until 1968, then was put into storage before being sold to Ted Sturges, owner of Sturges Recording Studio in Memphis, in 1976. It changed hands several times after that and was last refurbished by the C.B. Coltharp Piano Service, which restored it to its 1957 appearance.
Before Presley purchased the baby grand, it had been at Ellis Auditorium, where it was the house piano dating back to the early 1930s. The auditorium was the city’s largest indoor venue prior to the Mid-South Coliseum and stood on the northeast corner of Front Street and Poplar Avenue, where the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts is now.
– Bill Dries
Bates Family Members Sentenced in Ponzi Scheme
The last two members of former Tennessee lawmaker Larry Bates’ family who were convicted of swindling investors out of $21 million in a gold-and-silver investment scheme have been sentenced.
U.S. District Judge Sheryl Lipman on Wednesday, Sept. 6, sentenced Robert Bates, one of Larry Bates’ sons, to 12 years and 7 months in prison and ordered him to pay $19.6 million in restitution to victims. Robert Bates’ wife, Kinsey Brown Bates, was sentenced to 5 years and 3 months in prison and ordered to pay $9.5 million.
The pair, along with Larry Bates and his other son, Chuck Bates, were convicted in May of mail and wire fraud and conspiracy in a Ponzi scheme that involved the buying and selling of gold and silver coins. The scheme lasted from 2002 to October 2013, with the Bates family advertising on Christian television talk shows and their own radio network.
Lipman sentenced Larry Bates to 21 years and 10 months in prison and Chuck Bates to 12 years and 7 months in prison in separate hearings Tuesday, Sept. 5. Larry Bates was ordered to pay $21.2 million in restitution and Chuck Bates to pay $10.6 million in restitution.
“Today, justice has finally been served to members of the Bates family as a result of their decade-long Ponzi scheme,” acting U.S. Attorney Larry Laurenzi said Wednesday in a written statement. “Their corruption ploy – which devastated and destroyed the lives of many hard-working individuals – ended today. I hope this will serve as a clear-cut message that the United States Attorney’s Office and its law enforcement partners will work tirelessly to expose and bring to justice people responsible for such acts of greed and corruption.”
– Bill Dries
Memphis Linebacker Dillon To Miss Rest of Season
Senior University of Memphis linebacker Jackson Dillon will miss the remainder of the 2017 season due to a shoulder injury suffered in the Tigers’ 39-27 victory over Louisiana-Monroe in the season opener Aug. 31.
“We are disappointed for him but are planning on filing a medical hardship on his behalf for a sixth season,” Tigers coach Mike Norvell said.
Jackson missed the 2016 season due to injuries, but appeared in 38 games in his first three seasons at Memphis. For his career, he has 109 tackles, including 20.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and two blocked kicks.
– Don Wade
Redbirds’ Flaherty Named PCL Player of the Month
Memphis Redbirds right-handed pitcher Jack Flaherty was named the Pacific Coast League Player of the Month for August in a vote by team managers.
In five August starts, Flaherty went 4-1 with a 1.97 ERA and struck out 29 while walking seven. His finest outing was 7.0 innings of shutout, two-hit work at Tacoma Aug. 6, and he allowed two earned runs or fewer in each of his five starts in the month. Flaherty helped the Redbirds to a division championship before making his Major League debut with the St. Louis Cardinals on Sept. 1 at San Francisco.
In all, Flaherty was 7-2 with a 2.74 ERA and 85 strikeouts in 85.1 innings over 15 starts as a Redbird.
– Don Wade
Sunstar Buys Insurance Assets From Simmons Bank
Memphis-based Sunstar Insurance Group LLC has purchased the property and casualty accounts and assets from the insurance affiliates of Simmons Bank.
The acquisition will give Sunstar – a regional agency currently operating in Tennessee, Missouri, Kansas, and Helena, Arkansas – a new area of operations in the middle south region. Andrew “A.B.” Meadors, an insurance executive with three decades of experience, will head up the Sunstar operations as CEO of Arkansas and Tennessee.
Founded in 2012, Sunstar has grown to become the 73rd-largest property and casualty insurance agency in the U.S. as ranked by the industry trade magazine Insurance Journal. Sunstar has more than $150 million in premiums placed on behalf of clients, representing all the major national insurance companies, and most of the regionally focused carriers as well, covering commercial lines, personal lines, employee benefits and surety bonds.
– Andy Meek
Belly Acres Owners to Open New Taco Restaurant
A new taco restaurant from the owners of Belly Acres is coming to 3295 Poplar Ave.
Tennessee Taco Co., owned by Ben McLean and chef Rob Ray, is set to open Monday, Sept. 11. Located at Poplar and Holmes Road, the restaurant will feature 24 kinds of street tacos, with menu options encompassing tastes that range from a preference for beef to chicken, pork and fish.
Other menu items will include fresh guacamole and doughnuts.
McLean, who has worked in the Memphis restaurant industry for more than 20 years, and Ray partnered to open Belly Acres in Overton Square in 2014.
– Andy Meek
Local Golf Pro Qualifies For PGA Pros Championship
Brian Wood, head golf professional for Memphis National Golf Club, recently qualified for the PGA Professionals Championship, an annual tournament for golf club professionals and teachers who are members of the Professional Golfers’ Association of America.
At the Tennessee PGA Championship held last month in Franklin, Wood finished tied for second place, which qualifies him to play next June for a spot in the PGA Championship to be held in Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis in August 2018.
Wood is a PGA professional with 12 years of experience at golf facilities, including the PGA Learning Center in Port St. Lucie, Florida, and locally at Windyke Country Club.
In 2015, he won the Tennessee PGA Assistants Championship.
– Don Wade
U of M, STCC to Host Domestic Violence Summit
The numbers tell a sobering story: One in three women will experience intimate partner violence during their lifetime.
To address this issue, the University of Memphis and Southwest Tennessee Community College will host the second annual Domestic Violence Summit Sept. 15 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the University of Memphis’ University Center Bluff Room, 499 University St., room 304. Information about resources available to domestic violence victims in Memphis will be part of the program.
The summit is presented by the Athena Project, which is headed by Dr. Gayle Beck. Mearl Purvis of FOX13 News will moderate the summit.
Other guests will include representatives from the Family Safety Center, Crime Victims Center, Exchange Club Family Center, YMCA and others. Parking is available in the Zach Curlin garage.
– Don Wade
Tennessee Opens Online Voter Registration
Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett formally opened online voter registration in Tennessee Wednesday, Sept. 6.
The online registration at GoVoteTN.com is available to Tennesseans with a driver’s license or photo ID issued by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security who are U.S. citizens. It allows a citizen to not only register to vote but to also change their address on an existing voter registration.
The state checks the online voter registration form against its database and the electronic signature already on file.
“This system meets people where they already are – online,” Hargett said. “It will improve accuracy and efficiency for voters and election officials by ensuring there are fewer errors and more accurate voter rolls.
Shelby County Elections Administrator Linda Phillips said online registration should make the process of getting registration cards quicker.
“Voters will be able to send in their voter registration applications in a much more convenient manner to them,” she said. “There will be fewer errors, because the information is keyed in by the voter and sent directly to us, making processing the applications faster, so people will receive their registration cards more quickly.”
Those without the required ID can print a voter registration form from the site and mail it to the election commission. The registration deadline is the same online as it is for the paper form: Voters must register 30 days before an election to be eligible to vote in that election.
– Bill Dries
Transplants Foundation Teams With Good Shepherd
Good Shepherd Pharmacy and the National Foundation for Transplants have teamed up to bring affordable medication to Tennessee transplant patients.
NFT helps families with financial hardships by providing grants for transplant-related expenses, and now their patients will also have access to either free or at-cost prescription medication through Good Shepherd Pharmacy.
Since Good Shepherd is licensed as a mail-order pharmacy, they can serve qualified NFT patients in Tennessee. NFT will refer their patients to Good Shepherd Pharmacy for prescription needs, and patients can contact Good Shepherd directly to arrange prescription fulfillment.
Foundation president Michelle Gilchrist said transplant patients spend an average of $10,000 to $14,000 per year in immunosuppressants alone.
Covered medications through this partnership include transplant-related medication, maintenance medications which led to the need for a transplant and medications prescribed due to adverse reactions related to treatment.
Currently, NFT serves all 50 states and all U.S. territories, and Good Shepherd Pharmacy serves all of Tennessee. While this partnership will immediately serve Tennesseans, additional U.S. states will be served in future plans.
– Andy Meek
Olympic Steak and Pizza Pulls Permit for 4th Eatery
Olympic Steak and Pizza, a family-owned restaurant chain with stores in northeast Shelby County, has filed a building permit application for its fourth location in Arlington.
The $2.4 million permit calls for new construction at 5183 Airline Road, and lists Priester & Associates Inc. as the contractor.
Currently Olympic Steak and Pizza operates locations in Millington, Atoka and Oakland.
– Patrick Lantrip
St. Jude CEO to Be Honored For Leukemia Discoveries
The American Society of Hematology will honor St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital CEO Dr. James Downing later this year with the 2017 E. Donnall Thomas Lecture and Prize for his discoveries related to the hematopathology and molecular biology of childhood leukemia, the most common pediatric cancer.
The lectureship and prize is named after the late Nobel Prize laureate and past president of the society. The lecture and prize recognizes pioneering research achievements in hematology that represent a paradigm shift or significant discovery in the field.
Downing will present his lecture, “The Molecular Pathology of Pediatric Acute Leukemia,” Dec. 11 at the 59th ASH annual meeting and exposition in Atlanta. His lecture will focus on progress that has been made over the last 15 years in advancing the understanding of pediatric acute leukemia and how this information is increasing cure rates.
Downing pioneered the concept that the tools of advanced genomics could be used to better predict disease prognosis. He also embarked on the first comprehensive genome-sequencing analysis of childhood cancers, the Pediatric Cancer Genome Project, which has led to discoveries in a number of pediatric cancers, as well as algorithms that are now used worldwide for genomic analysis.
– Andy Meek
Big River Crossing Wins International Design Honor
Big River Crossing has won the top honor among projects receiving 2017 Excellence in Design Awards from the Waterfront Center, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that helps communities worldwide make wise long-term uses of waterfront resources.
The Design in Excellence award honors developments that have catalyzed public enjoyment of and access to a waterfront; made civic, environmental and educational contributions to the surrounding area; and incorporated natural and historical features. Judges also consider each nominated project’s degree of difficulty.
Big River Crossing is a bike and pedestrian crossing built along the Harahan Bridge more than 100 feet above the Mississippi River. More than 200,000 visitors have made the mile-long trip since the crossing opened last October.
The bridge, which is illuminated by 80,000 LED lights, has become a new icon on the riverfront, with the lights changing colors to celebrate events, sports teams and community initiatives.
Big River Crossing is also part of the $43 million Main to Main Multi-Modal Connector Project between Memphis and West Memphis. The bridge’s impact includes the current development of a 1,700-acre park adjacent to the bridge on the Arkansas side and ongoing plans for a national biking and hiking trail along the entire Mississippi River’s levee system.
The Waterfront Center’s 30th annual Excellence on the Waterfront Awards Ceremony and Reception will be held Friday, Sept. 8, in Washington, D.C. U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, who played a prominent role in development and planning for the bridge, is scheduled to receive the award on behalf of Big River Crossing.
– Daily News staff
MAAR Elects Five New 2018 Board Members
The Memphis Area Association of Realtors elected five new members for its 2018-19 board of directors at its annual meeting Thursday, Aug. 31.
The new members include Amanda Lott and Loura Edmondson of Crye-Leike Inc. Realtors; Eric Fuhrman of Crye-Leike Commercial; Keith Gilliam of Weichert Realtors; and Grace Uhlhorn of Keller Williams Realty.
The group will join the board’s current members: Lauren Harkins Wiuff, Marx-Bensdorf Realtors; Bill Stewart, RE/MAX Real Estate Experts; Bryan Evans, NAI Saig Co.; Jeff Burress, Crye-Leike; Cheryl Muhammad, Assured Real Estate Services; Kathryn Garland, Garland Co. Real Estate; and Nancy Cunningham, Coldwell Banker Collins-Maury.
– Patrick Lantrip
Rainn Wilson to Attend Indie Memphis Festival
TV and film star Rainn Wilson will host the premiere of his new movie “Thom Pain” as part of the 20th anniversary of the Indie Memphis Film Festival in November.
The film, directed by Oliver Butler and adapted from Will Eno’s 2004 play, will be the Opening Night Gala selection for the festival. As part of the anniversary celebration, Indie Memphis will also for the first time host a block party from Nov. 3-5, closing off traffic along Cooper Street between Union and Monroe avenues in Midtown.
Among other highlights, the festival will include the Memphis premiere of “Thank You, Friends: Big Star’s Third Live...And More,” directed by Benno Nelson and featuring an all-star cast of musicians such as Robyn Hitchcock and members of R.E.M., Yo La Tengo and Wilco. The concert film celebrating Big Star will be shown on a large outdoor screen with the band’s Jody Stephens in attendance.
Indie Memphis is also partnering with the National Civil Rights Museum for MLK50, a special program of films new and old that will not only commemorate the upcoming 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in Memphis, but also address the legacy of his work.
– Andy Meek