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VOL. 133 | NO. 33 | Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Dries

Bill Dries

Last Word: Corker & The Senate Poll, Memphis BBQ in Texas and Chandler Numbers

By Bill Dries

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The new owner of the city’s tallest building has bought two parcels next to the 100 North Main Building as the other part of the plan to bring the 37-story tall building back to life as a combo apartment-hotel building with the Loew’s hotel brand. The row of older buildings on the south side of 100 North Main all the way up to Jefferson would give way to a 34-story tall office tower.

An internal poll from late January in Tennessee’s U.S. Senate race showed former Gov. Phil Bredesen putting the Republican seat in the Democratic column in a narrow victory over Republican frontrunner Marsha Blackburn in a November general election match up. And the poll used a sample that was overweighted with Republicans, according to a Tuesday story in Politico. The poll is the likely reason incumbent Republican Bob Corker is reconsidering his decision not to run for re-election. And this is not just Corker taking a look at the poll and reconsidering. National Republican leaders are urging him to think it over. The poll going public has also surfaced opposition within the party to Blackburn that until now has been quiet.

Blackburn and her backers in The Club for Growth are rejecting any notion that the race is over for her or that her close alignment with the Trump White House may be a liability.

One other name also mentioned in all of this: former U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher of Frog Jump who is also running in the Republican Senate primary. One of Fincher’s prominent supporters says he’s not sure if Fincher is still an active candidate.

New numbers from Chandler Reports, the real estate information company that is part of The Daily News Co. Inc., show 2018 started with a rise in home prices locally. The average home sales price in January was $163,024, 14 percent higher than a year ago. The highest average, $367,962, was in Collierville’s 38017 ZIP. The 1,220 sales for the month was up 6 percent from a year ago.

Mortgage activity by the Chandler numbers was up 17 percent in January for purchase mortgage activity compared to a year ago. The mortgage activity topped $132 million for January compared to $113 million at this time last year. Meanwhile mortgage rates have been rising in recent weeks, according to one of the bankers we talked with. And that means some pressure when combined with limited housing inventory in Shelby County.

By the way, Chandler Reports is marking its 50th year in business.

More on plans for the mixed use development at South Main and G.E. Patterson where the original Downtown Blue Monkey once stood. Look for a deli on the ground floor of the three-story structure proposed there.

Speaking of food, Corky’s expanding to Texas with locations in Houston and Dallas, which should be interesting given the difference in barbecue here and barbecue there – pork and beef?

The three speakers at our Women & Business seminar next week at The Brooks talk about their individual roads to success and what those examples can mean for other women. Attorney Tannera George Gibson, Rhodes College president Marjorie Hass and Dr. Susan Murmann each come at this a bit differently as you would expect given the different professions they are in. Given the times and the rise of the “me too” and “Time’s Up” movements, the Feb. 22 seminar will include discussions about the glass ceiling and similar barriers to women in the workplace as well as the work-life balance that is a perennial topic at the annual event and the value of mentors.

Drug Court Judge Tim Dwyer, the elected official who is the recipient of this year’s Dunavant Award, talks about the court he founded when crack was the city’s dominant drug problem and its journey into the opioid epidemic. The annual awards are cosponsored by The Daily News with the Rotary Club of Memphis East.

In the space of 50 years, what seems like something pretty ordinary can become extraordinary compared to how unlikely that simple something would have been at the other end of the comparison. That’s the thought I had Tuesday with word that the 1,300 city sanitation workers who went on strike here in 1968 will be honored with a resolution from the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House. The praise for the strikers expressed Tuesday by Tennessee’s two Senators would have been unthinkable half a century ago.

Pancreatic cancer is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. and moving up the rankings fast. The Kosten Foundation has expanded in recent years from a support group to raising more than $1.5 million for pancreatic cancer research.

On Capitol Hill in Nashville this week, the chancellor of UT Knoxville is grilled by a legislator for attending a fundraiser for the university’s LGBT center.

The state House passes a bill that requires doctors to offer women seeking abortions a look at an ultrasound. And under the terms of the bill if a woman opts to see the ultrasound, her doctor is required to tell her whether a fetal heartbeat was detected.

Democratic state Senator Lee Harris of Memphis among the sponsors of a bill that limits the ability of state licensing boards to deny occupational licenses based on the criminal history of those seeking the licenses. The bill would only allow a denial of a license if the crime is directly related to the job being sought or for specific felonies beyond that.

The Clarion Ledger on the Jackson, Mississippi City Council’s vote Tuesday to decriminalize pot possession of 30 grams or less.

Atop our Memphis Newsmakers segment, Rob Benson of Kele Inc. talks about the people who inspired him in the world of building automation.

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 56 56 9,658
MORTGAGES 49 49 10,665
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 10 10 1,299
BUILDING PERMITS 212 212 21,170
BANKRUPTCIES 49 49 6,157
BUSINESS LICENSES 34 34 3,973
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 38 38 2,930
MARRIAGE LICENSES 28 28 2,049