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VOL. 133 | NO. 96 | Monday, May 14, 2018


Bill Dries

Last Word: Mimeo Move, Food Fight and Sundquist for Blackburn

By Bill Dries

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Emerging plans for a second convention center hotel involve more than just converting the 100 North Main Building -- the city's tallest skyscraper.

There aren’t any renderings just yet of what a second convention center hotel with the 100 North Main Building as its centerpiece would look like. That’s probably a good thing for now because some of the specs and the footprint are still in flux. The developers of the proposed convention center hotel said as the weekend began that they plan a 600 room hotel and a complex that includes two 30-story towers in addition to the 37-story tall 100 North Main Building – the tallest building in the city. And the foot print will likely jump Second Street to take in the vacant Jefferson Plaza building. Here is the update and some perspective on how we got to this point.

It was at about this time last week that Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland was talking about the need to try something new in the way of incentives to draw more corporate headquarters from other parts of the country to move here. By his count, the last time that happened as a major project was the move of International Paper to Memphis – several decades ago. On the EDGE board’s agenda later this week is the move of Mimeo’s headquarters to Memphis from Newark, New Jersey as part of an expansion. Among other projects seeking tax breaks, a retail center called Whitehaven Landing that would include a trampoline park at Faronia and Shelby Drive and Moore Tech planning on its conversion of an old auto dealership on Mendenhall into an auto mechanic training school.

Not too far away from the future Moore Tech campus, Gestalt Community Schools has bought the Mendenhall Square Shopping Center for $8.9 million. Gestalt’s Power Center Academy High School is already a tenant in the shopping center and in need of space with the other Power Center Academy’s close by.

Meanwhile, the state Funding Board this week considers $17.5 million in incentives to relocate the HQ of AllianceBernstein Holding LP from New York to Nashville.

Hall of Fame NFl player Mike Singletary is the new coach of the city's latest effort in a pro football league other than the NFL.

Here is the rest of The Week Ahead.

Among those present for last week’s announcement of the Memphis franchise in the Alliance of American Football was Steve Ehrhart, who has probably had more experience with these kinds of football leagues than anyone else around town. And Ehrhardt points out that with the USFL, CFL and other leagues that aren’t the NFL – the Memphis operations have always been solid businesses. They’ve probably been more solid than some of the leagues they played in. The AAF still has to answer a lot of questions about its finances.

Local groceries and supermarkets are competing with each using technology to make themselves more convenient to shoppers.

New fronts in the grocery wars aren’t about getting the right corner or the one closest to a competitor anymore. The cover story by Andy Meek in the new edition of our weekly, The Memphis News, looks at the competition within the supermarkets and stores driven by technology and convenience – although the self scanning business is, at least to me, about like parking garages with no attendant. I’ll believe it works when it works for the folks who are now in very long lines and have to have human help to do what is marketed as “Scan, Bag and Go.”

A bit of politics, a heaping helping of sports and a dash of music in our “Around Memphis” link list for your reading pleasure.

The Chicago Reader on a fundraising drive for an Ida B. Wells monument in Chicago which would be that city’s first statue of a woman. And the group raising the money has already hired Chicago sculptor Richard Hunt. Hunt was here during the MLK50 commemorations as his 1970s Mountaintop sculpture for the Mallory Knights was moved to the new MLK Reflection Park on the eastern side of the MLGW building.

Associated Press says investigators looking into a cyber attack on Knox County election returns earlier this month have traced the attack to a computer in Ukraine.

President Donald Trump slated to campaign in Nashville May 29 for Republican U.S. Senate contender Marsha Blackburn. And former Tennessee Gov. Don Sundquist writes an op-ed piece doubling down on his surprising April endorsement of Blackburn while attacking Democratic Senate contender and former Governor Phil Bredesen.


Blackburn gained national attention for her vocal opposition to the state income tax Sundquist proposed as governor. Before Bredesen was elected Governor in 2002, he ran unsuccessfully against Sundquist in 1994. Endorsements are usually like the Hamburger Helper of political campaigns. They help to keep the public’s attention and establish some momentum between major events that really bring the crowd to a candidate’s tent or send them fleeing from the tent. This one is much different. As The Tennessee Journal pointed out in April when Blackburn first touted Sundquist’s endorsement, this is a switch for Sundquist.

Did someone say elections? Here is the latest installment of the Tennessee Press Association’s examination of various issues with the Republican and Democratic contenders for Governor and U.S. Senate. This month the issue is economic development in rural Tennessee. Here is the overview from Frank Daniels. And here are the general thoughts from all of the major contenders in both sets of primaries. Rural economic development has become like crime and education – you are never, ever going to hear any candidate with any shot say they are for crime and against education – although three of the four major contenders for the Republican nomination for governor apparently don’t think prekindergarten is education based on their stands on the issue at last month’s Greater Memphis Chamber forum. But I digress. Rural economic development is something everyone supports in general and it is something a governor of either party in his or her second term will usually say they want to focus on with the time they have left in office. That said, what stands out in these answers is that the state has 19 of its 95 counties classified as “distressed.” The distressed status means these counties are in the bottom 10 percent in the country in terms of poverty, income and unemployment. That compares to 21 “distressed” counties in Tennessee just three years ago.

The Memphis News Almanac: Selling the Lenox farm in Collierville, the county’s African-American majority, getting city pools in shape and renovating the Lee House, and the Bolton-Dickins feud begins.

PROPERTY SALES 62 288 2,619
MORTGAGES 52 197 1,783