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VOL. 133 | NO. 73 | Wednesday, April 11, 2018


Bill Dries

Last Word: Play Ball, Porch & Parlor and A New Bus System

By Bill Dries

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If you go to enough political gatherings you start to see parallels. Sometimes you see things that aren’t there but that’s another story. Many political gatherings begin with the pledge of allegiance and a prayer as well. Sometimes the pledge isn’t enough and there is someone there to sing the National Anthem.

Sometimes they sing it quite well. Other times they go for all of the volume they can muster and push through the sound system in a room small enough that there is no escape. I call it the Black Sabbath philosophy – paralyzing, room filling sound. Anyway, I’ve been at political gatherings where after the National Anthem, some in the group have actually followed it with shouts of “Play ball” in anticipation of the skullduggery to follow.

It is with that thought that we had the Memphis Redbirds home opener Tuesday evening at AutoZone Park followed Wednesday by the opening of early voting in the May Shelby County primaries. Penny Hardaway again threw out the first pitch just as he did at the Tigers’ baseball opener recently. So, don’t be surprised if you see him at the doors of an early voting site Wednesday morning before it opens.

There are some changes to the early voting locations. And we’ve got a lot of stats on how the early voting goes here. In this election cycle turnout has never hit 20 percent since 1994 – the dawn of local partisan primaries for most of the county’s elected non-judicial offices. And to be clear, that is not a prediction. These primaries will be an indication of just how real and viable the new energy and new blood in all directions here from Donald Trump’s election in 2016 is a year and three months after he took office.

At Shelby Farms Thursday, a significant upgrade of the FedEx St. Jude Golf Classic by the PGA is expected to be announced – World Golf Championship status. The status comes as the PGA calendar gets a good shuffle for 2019 and in the shuffle, with the status, the Memphis tradition should see some bigger names in the field. Not sure what happens to the “Hush Y’all” signs but keep them handy anyway.

The curvy corner at Madison and Cooper in Overton Square has a new tenant.

Bar Louie becomes Porch & Parlor at what is the most visible corner at Madison and Cooper – the curvy one. The restaurant is the latest activity blooming this spring in what amounts to a second wave of Overton Square development five years into its resurgence. And it is the concept of the restauranteurs behind Downtown’s Flight and Germantown’s Southern Social.

Further down Cooper Street, Cooper-Young has historic overlay district status meaning there are rules about what you can build and develop in the area and changes you can make to what you own in the way of buildings. The status was given final approval Tuesday by the city council after a lengthy debate about what the Landmarks Commission will be enforcing. And the discussion is probably not over.

Transportation consultants are recommending some big changes to the city bus system in a draft report released Tuesday.

The transportation consultants looking at the city’s bus system since last year decided to approach this with a map of the city void of any of the existing bus routes patched and cobbled together over decades. And what they came up with is a recommendation that reverses the bus system’s emphasis on providing some kind of service to as much of the city as possible to one in which the majority of the service is aimed at high frequency routes – much shorter wait times – where there is the most ridership. The group working as part of the Strickland administration’s still-forming Memphis 3.0 plan to be revealed in 2019 presented its draft report to Memphis City Council members yesterday. More on the reaction when next we meet.

Homes sales in Memphis had a record quarter by new numbers from Chandler Reports.

New numbers from Chandler Reports show the first quarter of 2018 was a record-breaking one for the Memphis housing market. The average home sale price of $159,274 in the Memphis area for the quarter is the highest on record. Chandler Reports is the real estate information company that is part of The Daily News Co. Inc. and is marking its 50th year. Inventory is low and interest rates are rising but the rise is relative. The number of units sold was down for March from a year ago but the average home price for March showed a 1 percent increase. 38028 in Eads had the highest average price for March at $415,000. Arlington’s 38002 ZIP had the most new home sales for the quarter – 43 sales averaging at $314,888.

Chandler numbers on the mortgage market locally show it was up 2 percent in March from a year ago – that is the increase in purchase mortgage volume countywide. Deeper in the numbers is the trend of fewer individual mortgages but higher dollar amounts for those mortgages.

In Orange Mound this week, a new duplex and a tiny street is the latest beacon in a strategy to bring back the residential mix a vacant lot at a time. And the city council member who represents Orange Mound takes a cue from the Wizard of Oz at the opening.

First Tennessee announces a five-year $4 billion effort across eight states focused on low to moderate income communities including here in Memphis. This includes home purchase and rehab mortgage lending, small business loans and grants and philanthropy.

ServiceMaster employees aren’t the only new arrival to the Downtown office space experience. Wunderlich Securities employees begin their move in at One Commerce Square next week in their move from East Memphis. Fear not Poplar and Ridgeway. Wunderlich has plans for a second branch at Triad I.

The Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis honors three Memphis women whose efforts and lives go to the fabric of the city’s push forward with its annual Legends Award.

Angela Copeland’s first SXSW in her Career Corner column.

In Nashville, the House passes Sunday liquor sales after quite the debate and the action now shifts to the Senate.

Some Memphians named by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam to the new, smaller UT board of trustees.

Atop our Memphis Newsmakers segment, Attorney David S. Jones of Fisher Phillips says he's better at making guitars than playing guitars.

PROPERTY SALES 0 283 8,118
MORTGAGES 0 333 9,118
BANKRUPTCIES 0 109 5,268