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VOL. 133 | NO. 103 | Wednesday, May 23, 2018


Bill Dries

Last Word: Bike Second Line Protest, Loeb's Portrait and SCS Budget Notes

By Bill Dries

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“Get on your bikes and ride.” The local bike share program begins Wednesday at 60 different Explore Bike Share stations at different points around town. The bike rental program is considered a milestone in the city’s bicycle culture. And like all milestones there has to be a ceremony. This effort to make it easier to mix bikes into your daily journeys will kick off Wednesday morning in Court Square at 9:30 a.m.

Meanwhile, word Tuesday afternoon of an effort to keep the changes to the streetscape along Peabody Place Downtown a week after city officials announced the experimental street markings and lane changes between Front and Fourth didn’t work out during a year-long trial period. The Revolutions Bicycle Cooperative tells us they are organizing a “Bicycle Second Line” for Friday to “mourn the passing of the Great Streets” – a reference to the initiative that organized the move to the pedestrian promenade with tables and chairs and planters on Peabody Place as well as two-way bike lanes for the last year.

Sleep Out Louie's is back in a new location 11 years after it closed at 88 Union.

Speaking of the other Peabody Place – the former shopping mall turned ServiceMaster HQ – here’s more on the return of Sleep Out Louie in the space at Peabody Place that some of you knew as Encore – on the Second Street side. It’s been 11 years since the bar at 88 Union closed and in that time a lot has changed in the bar business.

The Studio Gang rendering of an aquarium on the south end of Mud Island got a step closer to reality Tuesday with approval by the state building commission to expand the use of Tourism Development Zone funding to move ahead with planning and a feasability study.

The plan to move the Brooks out of Overton Park to the riverfront across the harbor from an aquarium on the southern end of Mud Island took another step forward Tuesday in Nashville as the state building commission approved expanded uses of the sales tax revenue collected in the Downtown Tourism Development Zone. The public cost of the riverfront and Mud Island plans are the expanded use of the incremental tax revenue. This means feasibility studies that make the ideas more specific. Each of these projects – the Brooks move and the aquarium – are to be funded primarily by private money. The city administration has said that. What the vote in Nashville triggers is feasibility studies on specific plans for this. Brooks leaders have said this is about a five-year process before the doors open on a Front Street museum between Monroe and Union Avenues. And the aquarium project is a modified version of a proposal for the Pyramid before the city decided a Bass Pro Shops with related attractions would go there. Links to past stories on each included in the link.

The newest Memphis City Council member is the grandson on John Ford Canale – a “squire” on the old Shelby County Quarterly Court that is today’s Shelby County Commission. Joseph Ford Canale was a fast pick of the council near the top of Tuesday’s session at City Hall. And Canale wasted no time in saying he will be running in the special council race on the Aug. 2 ballot for the remainder of the term of former council member Philip Spinosa.

Spinosa making an appearance in council chambers briefly Tuesday as the council honored the 1968 sanitation workers with its annual Humanitarian of the Year award. More than a dozen of the surviving strikers from 50 years ago were present with their families – each awarded one of the award statues created by artist Carole DeForest and awarded by the council for the last 25 years.

The portrait of former Mayor Henry Loeb in the Hall of Mayors at City Hall was the backdrop Tuesday for one of the final MLK50 observances.

There was a reception in the Hall of Mayors and most of the strikers walked right past the portrait of Mayor Henry Loeb without noticing. A few caught sight of the likeness of the mayor who was their nemesis during the strike and gave it a sustained glance or two. But the portraits of Loeb’s four successors – not counting current mayor Jim Strickland – were the backdrop for some very short speeches by council members and a group portrait of the current council with the strikers on the other end of the hall. City Hall looks very similar to what it looked like in 1968. The major features are intact for the most part. The mayor’s office isn’t on the second floor anymore. But otherwise, this was very familiar and emotional ground for strikers who 50 years ago were not welcome there at all. The council of 1993 broke the ice on all of this with their formal welcome to City Hall for the group of strikers which was a larger group 25 years ago.

The honor Tuesday is a kind of unofficial bookend for MLK 50 events in the city. It came the same day that the council decided impasse proceedings in contract disputes between the current city administration and 13 separate groups of employees including four groups represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees – the union representing the striking sanitation workers in 1968. In every one of the 13 impasse resolutions, the council accepted the city’s final offer and rejected the final offer of the union involved in the impasse. Some of the union leaders making their case didn’t hesitate to note the timing and some council members didn’t hesitate to counter that. Much of the back and forth was about the city’s decision to offer performance bonuses and pay programs over pay raises. More on this when next we meet.

While that was going on, the Shelby County Schools board got its first look at SCS superintendent Dorsey Hopson’s definitive budget proposal. The bottom line. It’s got about $12.9 million more in expenses than revenue. The capital ask is $80 million – more than half of that is building new Alcy and Goodlett schools that have been in the pipeline for a while. And the budget proposes to use $35 million from the SCS reserves.

The developers of the Tennessee Brewery pull a building permit for phase two of the Brewery District. The permit that crossed out desk Tuesday is for $12.7 million.

Don Wade’s Sports Notebook leads with the eternal NBA playoffs – specifically LeBron James in Boston. And some of you reading this think baseball games are too long?

The move in at Servicemaster headquarters Downtown is a factor in a new CRE market report that shows vacancies and rents are both up.

A new Avison Young CRE survey of the Memphis market shows a high vacancy rate and rents on the rise as well. Some of that is ServiceMaster’s move from the east to Downtown. But ServiceMaster’s old HQ has filled in well so far. The Universal Life Insurance building Downtown also figures into this along with TraVure in Germantown and Mueller Industries at Schilling Farms in Collierville.

The University of Memphis alum leading the turnaround of J.C. Penney – Marvin Ellison – announced Tuesday he is leaving his job as CEO to become CEO of Lowe’s and it is the talk of the retail world. Business Insider reports there was an immediate impact.

The HBO Elvis documentary has created lots of buzz with its choice of musicians to provide insights on Elvis Presley’s music and career as well as director Thom Zimny’s decision to use the voices of those sources but not to show them in the documentary. The Wrap has more on the decision to use the late Tom Petty in insights recorded just seven months before Petty’s sudden death.

Atop our Memphis Newsmaker’s segment, Dr. Derek Kelly of Campbell Clinic and Le Bonheur tells us how his broken arm was his entry point into orthopedics.

PROPERTY SALES 36 154 6,546
MORTGAGES 34 94 4,129
BUILDING PERMITS 201 554 15,915
BANKRUPTCIES 43 126 3,396