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VOL. 133 | NO. 27 | Tuesday, February 6, 2018


Bill Dries

Last Word: Fred's Troubles, Indigo Comeback and Selling MCA

By Bill Dries

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During Monday’s record Wall Street drop, Memphis-based Fred’s was among those taking it on the chin. But the retailer’s stock was already taking a beating from more turmoil since it got cut-out of a purchase of Rite Aid stores by Walgreens in 2017. Fred’s third chief financial officer in seven months is getting a $100,000 hiring bonus.

In a related move, the outgoing Fred’s CFO is going to back to his former job at True Temper Sports, also a Memphis-based company.

Among the building permits to cross our desk Monday, a $5 million one for Hotel Indigo, which had been the name of a hotel project planned for the Tenoke Building Downtown in 2007 just as the recession came to town. Hotel Indigo is back as a 118-room hotel project about a block to the south at the southeast corner of Court and B.B. King, next to the north side of the Sterick Building. This is the building that is parking garage and jazz club on its lower levels with the hotel rooms over the parking garage. Hotel Indigo has an opening date of mid 2018.

For the first time in the interesting history of the Trader Joe’s project in Germantown, there are renderings up for approval that actually show the Trader Joe’s name on a store front on Exeter. In the now-you-see-it/ now-you-don’t history of this project, that qualifies as a first. But not so fast. This is a red Trader Joe’s sign up for review Thursday by the Germantown Design Review Commission. And Germantown has a long history of not allowing anyone to just put up any kind of sign they want – even national chains.

Cushman & Wakefield handling the sale of the Memphis College of Art, slated to close in May of 2020. And the sale is more than its signature Overton Park building. It includes a dozen structures south of Poplar Avenue and a lot. It will be interesting to see if these are sold as a package or separately, and what impact the parcels south of Poplar have on housing in the area. The money from the sale goes to pay off the institution’s real estate debt, which was a factor in the decision to close, and pay the cost of the “teach-out” to May of 2020.

Super Bowl done. Super Bowl sick day done. Here’s our annual Super Bowl tradition -- a review of the commercials that are the main event for many of you by Lori Turner-Wilson, the founder of RedRover Sales & Marketing Strategy and our Guerilla Sales & Marketing columnist. How many of you have a renewed interest in seeing “Dirty Dancing” again?

One of the more interesting post-Super Bowl ads was a sponsored message on Facebook Monday afternoon from Duracell that made a subtle reference to the penchant of some Philly sports fans for throwing batteries. “Batteries hold a sacred place in the history of Philly fans,” was the message of the Duracell post. “Congratulations Philadelphia, and Fly, Duracell, Fly.”

Fresh off his Super Bowl halftime performance, Justin Timberlake filled in the open spaces on his Man of the Woods tour including a Jan. 12, 2019 date at FedExForum – that to follow his May 30 date there announced with the original tour dates as the end of the tour. It’s not over until you can’t sell any more tickets.

And for all of the criticism the halftime performance generated on several fronts, Timberlake had plenty of gas left in the tank for The Tonight Show performance immediately after the Super Bowl per this Billboard account. And Vanity Fair with some history on the Prince controversy.

Just before the Super Bowl broadcast began, Republican contender for Governor Diane Black bought air time for a campaign ad taking the NFL to task, capping a busy week that including several meetings with potential supporters. And Black had plenty to say in those sessions about “Tennessee values” – what that means – and how that intersects for her and other Republican contenders with the nuts and bolts of policy and programs that are the work of being governor.

Council Day or Groundhog Day? The Memphis City Council session Tuesday topped once again by what to do with proposed gas and electric rate increases from MLGW. And there is a final vote on what would be a third ballot question for the November ballot if approved Tuesday – this one on whether to get rid of what is left of the city runoff provision.

A half hour Shelby County Commission meeting Monday topped by a resolution that pushes for state legislation permitting an elected county utility board.

The recently-arrived CEO of the Soulsville Foundation, Richard Greenwald, on "Behind The Headlines" talks about a new charter school being planned for Soulsville separate from the Soulsville Charter School but that could be connected in a feeder pattern.

Memphis attorney John Ryder nominated for the TVA board.

On FBI- related memos released and about to be released in D.C. Monday:

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker of Tennesee tweeted: “Since the House chose to release the majority memo, I am glad it now appears the committee will vote today to release the minority memo as well.” This after some Republicans broke with the Congressional party line on the Democratic memo.

PROPERTY SALES 81 201 16,108
MORTGAGES 40 104 10,026
BUILDING PERMITS 130 336 38,272
BANKRUPTCIES 28 56 7,528