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VOL. 133 | NO. 62 | Tuesday, March 27, 2018


Bill Dries

Last Word: The RDC's New Leader, Potter on 100 North Main and FedEx Moves

By Bill Dries

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Is Memphis big enough for FedExForum and some kind of event space on the Graceland campus in Whitehaven? The city administration thinks that could be the case. But it requires an “honest broker” between Graceland and the Grizz – who run the forum for the city and county – to quote city chief legal officer Bruce McMullenif there is a deal to be had.

So far, there is not a lot, if any, trust in this. And the Graceland plan has changed several times over from August when Graceland Holdings head Joel Weinshanker first talked about a $50-million, 6,000 seat venue that could hold concerts – but he insisted would not be competition for the forum. Now it’s down to a 1,700 seat convention center space in the same spot at Graceland – where the vacant Heartbreak Hotel stands.

What’s interesting here is that the city administration thinks there is a way to get some kind of facility in Whitehaven and keep the current arrangement at the forum where the Grizz agree to take care of any red ink in the operation of the arena. Stranger things have happened. But, again, trust between the two players in this seems very remote at least for now.


The Riverfront Development Corporation has a new leader who is no stranger to Downtown redevelopment. Carol Coletta starts next week as the successor to Benny Lendermon at the RDC. And she will continue working with the Kresge Foundation, which has been instrumental in paving the way for much of the riverfront plan that now becomes the central thrust of the RDC – in particular raising the private money to pull off the ambitious plan a piece at a time. That likely starts with the move of The Brooks from Overton Park to the riverfront in about five years.

The March For Our Lives in Memphis this past weekend was a bit different than the other marches also held across the country on Saturday. And at the end of the march, the high school students who led the march told those at the rally at the National Civil Rights Museum that the problem of gun violence in Memphis may be different than what happened in Parkland Florida but is just as relevant.


Now that he is retired, Environmental Court Judge Larry Potter talks about the 100 North Main Building and the Arcade Hotel on “Behind The Headlines.”

Next week will be a busy week in the city as the nation and the world mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And the activities are building toward the week that includes the date of the assassination including an exhibit at the University of Memphis of King’s 1965 “We Shall Overcome” speech with handwritten annotations by King to the text.

About two weeks after FedEx announced plans for the $1 billion upgrade and modernization of its Memphis super hub, the company has called off plans for a $259 million ground distribution center in suburban Indianapolis. FedEx still has plans to spend $1.5 billion on modernizing the existing Indianapolis hub. And FedEx ordered 20 semis from Tesla. The all-electric trucks go into production next year and will be part of FedEx Freight’s less-than-truckload fleet.

Drama in the world of paper and boxes as Memphis-based International Paper is trying to buy an Irish box and packaging maker that would make IP the biggest paper company is Europe as well as America. In three weeks, the board of Smurfit has not only rejected two IP offers, it has said there is nothing to talk about and after rejecting the first offer even did the mergers and acquisition equivalent of trash talking IP. More details from Bloomberg on the background.

Elsewhere in corporate Memphis, the CEO of American Home Shield leaves as the parent company ServiceMaster continues with its plan to spin-off AHS.

The bill in the Tennessee Legislature that would require able-bodied TennCare recipients to work is on hold because it requires a federal waiver. Those waivers have been granted in states that have larger numbers of citizens on Medicaid. TennCare is Tennessee’s version of Medicaid. There are also questions about the bureaucracy that would be required to verify and enforce a work requirement.

Our Nashville correspondent, Sam Stockard, reports the already complex issue of taxing whiskey barrels is becoming even more complex as the state considers how much revenue there is to be made and lost for local governments as well as state government not only from Jack Daniel’s in Lynchburg but distillers in five other counties. And Jack Daniel’s is leading the charge in Nashville by saying the wooden barrels at the heart of the issue are integral to the process of aging whiskey.

And the bill to downsize the University of Tennessee board of trustees passed the Senate Monday evening on a 27-3 vote. The bill that is part of Gov. Bill Haslam’s legislative agenda for his last year in office now goes to the state House.

The $23 million Harbor Chase development in Germantown.

In our Retirement Communities Emphasis:

The $23 million Harbor Chase development in Germantown.

The new rehab wing at the Memphis Jewish Home.

And the family conversation about moving to a retirement home or assisted living is becoming more common. One sales and marketing director for a retirement community tells us that six years ago, the average age of someone moving to that community was 83. Today it is 74. And the monthly care cost by the Genworth Financial survey for the Memphis area tops out at $4,000.

Modest Mouse booked for a July 14 show at the Orpheum.

Word from the Beale Street Music Festival that the alt-pop duo Oh Wonder has cancelled almost a month’s worth of dates in April and May including their appearance at BSMF – a rare event for the festival which has included cancellations due to weather. That makes room in the festival lineup for some local talent – Porcelan, an R&B artist who is part of David Porter’s Made In Memphis Entertainment.

PROPERTY SALES 56 295 6,392
MORTGAGES 26 180 4,035
BUILDING PERMITS 128 840 15,361
BANKRUPTCIES 31 153 3,270