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VOL. 133 | NO. 74 | Thursday, April 12, 2018


Bill Dries

Last Word: Bakery Rising, Legislative Notes From Nashville and Jazz Messiah

By Bill Dries

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Some call it the Bakery Project – others Wonder Bread. Whatever you call it the redevelopment project that is centered on the old Wonder Bread bakery on Monroe between Downtown and the Medical District is moving with a building permit this week for what developer Gary Prosterman and his team call the Cadillac Building … because it was once a Cadillac dealership. That’s part of the code being used for places that have been out of action or barely functioning for decades and are now under development.... very post-apocalyptic. 

The Bakery Project is underway and its developer says its driven by national and local trends with a "jewel" ahead in phase two.

Prosterman was at Memphis Rotary this week to talk about the national and local trends that come into play with the Bakery Project. He also offered a tantalizing view of the second phase of this – an old rail corridor to be developed starting on the north side of Union Avenue and stretching to Madison Avenue after going under Monroe. The unspoken part of this is that the rail line is also on the south side of Union on the eastern border of the Commercial Appeal property, which is on the market and with enough acreage to exert its own force on the development underway across Union.

Noon Thursday is the deadline for any candidate who made the deadline a week ago to file for the August state and federal primary elections along with the county nonpartisan races and so far no one has budged, which is pretty normal. Usually there are only one or two withdrawals after the filing deadline at the most.

Meanwhile Tuesday was the first day of the early voting period in advance of the May 1 election day in the countywide primaries that decide who advances to the August county general election ballot as the Republican or Democratic nominee for 23 county offices. Some glitches reported on social media around address changes.

We should have the opening day turnout numbers bright and early Thursday with all 21 sites open at the start of the period that runs through April 26. At the outset, it’s going to be hard to make comparisons because four years ago the opening day of early voting for this same election cycle drew 304 citizens. But that included absentee voting from nursing homes and assisted living centers. Only one early voting site was open – the Downtown location at 157 Poplar Avenue. And as we pointed out in our Wednesday advancer, 2014 had a lot of Republican incumbents seeking re-election right up to the county mayor’s office.

In that regard the 2010 county primaries are a better comparison since there were a lot of countywide races with no incumbent including mayor. But as in 2014, in 2010, opening day saw only one early voting location open with 691 early voters. Again some of those were the absentee voters in nursing homes and assisted living centers.

Sunday wine and liquor sales cleared the state Senate in Nashville Wednesday and go to the governor for his signature. And the vote followed the same line of debate the House had earlier.

Another bill to punish Memphis officials for removing Confederate monuments from city parks late last year is moving again in the state House.

The expansion of Tennessee Promise, the state’s last-dollar scholarship program for all Tennessee high school graduates guaranteeing at least two years of free community college or two free years at a Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology is off to a good start. Tennessee Reconnect has had 10,000 adults sign up, according to Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam. Tennessee Reconnect makes the same offer to adults. The average age of the Tennessee Reconnect applicants is 34.


The end must be near for the Tennessee Legislature’s current session. A review in the “View From The Hill” column of our Nashville correspondent Sam Stockard.

Orpheum President and CEO Brett Batterson says the production of "Too Hot to Handel" later this month is the classical work "on steroids."

The budget season comes into focus. Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland takes his budget proposal to the Memphis City Council April 24 and Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell to the Shelby County Commission May 9 – each for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

This is a busy spring at the Orpheum starting with “Wicked” and going into “Something Rotten” which opened Tuesday and runs through the 15th. And right behind that is “Too Hot to Handel” – a jazz-gospel adaptation of Handel’s “Messiah.” The production is big and it includes lots of local talent.

PROPERTY SALES 64 87 1,429
MORTGAGES 39 60 1,107