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Johnny Ryall Jan 30, 2010 10:04 PM

Residential, business life poised to return to The Washburn
The Commercial Appeal | By Wayne Risher

The Washburn, a landmark building under renovation at 60 S. Main, offers front-row seats to Memphis history along with classic architectural touches. The building's $7.8 million conversion into 42 apartments and 4,500 square feet of commercial space should be completed by Feb.1, developer Andrew Crosby said. "I think it's the prettiest building on Main Street," says Andrew Crosby of The Washburn's Romanesque architectural influences. Built in the 1880s in two parts as the Lemmon and Gale buildings, and more recently known as the Lawrence Building, the five-story edifice overlooks Downtown alleys associated with momentous events of the 19th and 20th centuries. Washburn's Escape Alley runs along the building's north side, separating it from the SunTrust Bank building, and November 6th Street is to the east. "I was looking for something historic, and it's a very interesting story," Crosby said. "I think it's the prettiest building on Main Street."

Downtown Developers LLC bought the building for $635,000 in 2003 with the idea of preserving a piece of history and getting in on the Downtown residential boom, said Crosby, general partner. Crosby weighed the options and went with apartments, a fortunate choice given tumbling demand for condos and other owner-occupied housing after the recession hit. Naylor Construction began renovation last December, gutting an interior that included rickety wood stairs and a massive freight elevator. The design by architect Jeff Blackledge retained ceilings as high as 18 feet, a rooftop skylight and exposed timbers.Crosby said apartments have been built to facilitate easy conversion to condominiums after five years.

The previous owner, National Bank of Commerce, used it for records storage. Crosby said a two-ton, 100-year-old Diebold safe is being restored at the National Ornamental Metal Museum for the apartment lobby.Preservation of the Main Street faade and other architectural details qualified the project for historic preservation tax credits. Crye-Leike Realtors is preleasing apartments in The Washburn. Crosby said Wilkes & McHugh, a law firm, has leased most of the first-floor commercial, and discussions are under way with an investment firm about the rest.Crosby recently won Center City Development Corp. approval to divert fees from the project's tax freeze toward about $83,000 in improvements to the city-owned alleys, including curbs, gutters, sidewalks and lighting.

Union Gen. Cadwallader Colden Washburn fled through the alley that bears his name, wearing only his nightshirt, when Confederate Nathan Bedford Forrest's cavalry raided Union-occupied Downtown on Aug. 21, 1864. Washburn was commander of the military district of Western Tennessee. The past and future Wisconsin congressman went on after the war to cofound General Mills and serve as governor of the Badger State.

November 6th Street commemorates a 1934 vote to bring Tennessee Valley Authority electricity to the city through a publicly owned electric utility. "Memphis: An Architectural Guide" lists 60 S. Main as "one of several good commercial Romanesque buildings in town." Similar to, but plainer than the Lowenstein Building at Jefferson and Main, the building is topped by "a bit of fortress architecture unexpectedly erupting on Main Street." "The building is a really fine example of our treasure of historical buildings Downtown," said Center City Commission president Jeff Sanford. "The restoration that is under way is doing justice to its historic value." The preleasing of commercial space is a big plus. "Renting ground-floor retail space is difficult anywhere in the city, but with a very substantial vacancy rate along the (Main Street) mall, this is very welcome news, particularly in this economy," Sanford added. Crosby, 38, is a Memphis University School and Furman University graduate with a degree in philosophy. He worked for CNN, founded a public relations firm in Washington and operates a contracting business that builds for the State Department and U.S. embassies abroad. Crosby and Huey Holden are partners in Downtown Developers LLC. Limited liability investors are Culti Partners LLC and Florence McGowan.

Johnny Ryall Jan 30, 2010 10:06 PM

Washington firm chosen to redesign entry to Civil Rights Museum
By Michael Lollar

A Washington firm that has been involved in design projects involving memorials to Holocaust victims and to terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center has been chosen to redesign the entry to the National Civil Rights Museum. Listening posts with audio and video clips would "help put you in the moment," company co-owner Tracy Revis said when the firm presented its ideas. The most dramatic proposal was to move a 7,000-pound bronze sculpture, "Movement to Overcome," from the lobby into a landscaped courtyard, then remove interior walls of the museum's second floor to create what Revis called "a gracious spacious place." The Howard + Revis proposal also called for enlarging the museum's 100-seat auditorium to 300 seats.

National Civil Rights Museum Expansion:

Two historic buildings adjacent the original Lorraine Motel have been restored and expanded as part of “Exploring the Legacy,” a major addition to the National Civil Right Museum in Memphis. New exhibition space chronicles the months and days before and after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Plaza, a new outdoor promenade, connects the expanded museum complex with the revitalized South Main business district and provides a community park for reflection and contemplation. SIZE: 15,000 sq. ft.

Johnny Ryall Jan 30, 2010 10:09 PM

Visible School buys chamber building
Memphis Business Journal

Visible School has closed on a contract to purchase the former C&I Bank Building located at 200 Madison in Downtown Memphis. The Memphis-based music and worship arts college bought the slant-roofed building from the Greater Memphis Chamber for $1.05 million. The college first announced its plans to purchase the building in spring 2009 and began a six-month fundraising campaign for the purchase. It raised $525,000, and an anonymous donor provided the remaining $525,000 through a matching grant. Visible School will begin renovations on the college in January 2010 and hopes to be in the new building sometime during the 2010-2011 school year. “We’re very excited that we’ve met this incredible goal to purchase a new home for Visible School,” Ken Steorts, founder and president of Visible School, said in a statement. “Visible School has made such an impact on so many lives, and it thrills me to know we’ll soon be in the heart of the Memphis community and serving many generations of music students to come.” Started in 2000, Visible School is an independent music and worship arts college enrolling more than 100 students per year. “We’re looking forward to beginning renovations and entering into our 10th anniversary year in 2010,” Steorts said. Currently located in the Cooper-Young district, Visible School educates students interested in careers as musicians, technicians, music business professionals and in the music ministry. The fully accredited college offers a three-year bachelor’s degree and a one-year certificate program. Visible School offers an integrated, holistic, academic, vocational discipleship and community-based degree that is rooted in Christian beliefs. In 2001, Visible School founded Visible Media Group, a not-for-profit music production and artist development company.

Johnny Ryall Jan 30, 2010 10:10 PM

Center City Commission to review Woodard's development plans for South Bluffs office

Memphis Business Journal

A $1 million mixed-use renovation project will go before the Center City Commission’s Design Review Board Feb. 3. Developer Phil Woodard is planning a $380,500 renovation to a 12,136-square-foot warehouse building at 456 Tennessee Street. The building, which is in the South Bluffs National Register Historic District, will be used for offices, a reception area and catering functions. The CCC staff is recommending approval of the design plans. The Center City Development Corp. approved a $90,000 development loan for the property in June 2009. Woodard purchased the property on Tennessee Street for $600,000 in 2005, according to the Shelby County Register of Deeds.

Johnny Ryall Jan 30, 2010 10:12 PM

Belz's Peabody Suites project put on hold -Ailing luxury hotel segment among reasons for the delay
Memphis Business Journal - by Andy Ashby

Construction at the 160-room Peabody Suites expansion Downtown has been temporarily halted due to a tough lending market, a challenging luxury hotel segment and Belz Enterprises, Inc.’s focus on other projects. “We’ve completed the demolition and are continuing to work through the design and financing,” says Andy Groveman, senior vice president at Belz. Large portions of the former Muvico Theater space have been cleared and the site is ready for redevelopment. Construction could start back up later this year or in early 2010, according to Peabody Hotel general manager Doug Browne.

“I don’t see the economy turning in a big way until we’ve started the next year, at least that’s what hotel analysts say,” he says. In October, there were 38 hotel projects under construction in the Memphis market, according to local consultant Chuck Pinkowski. Now there are eight, including a 127-room Hyatt Place on Winchester and a 131-room Courtyard by Marriott Downtown. “Anything which has been planned is on hold,” Pinkowski says. “If it’s not on hold, it’s been canceled.” Luxury hotels have been especially hard hit, with that segment’s revenues down 38% compared to last year, according to a Smith Travel Research report. Pinkowski attributes some of it to the “AIG phenomenon.” When the federal government bailed out American International Group, Inc., the insurance company used the money to pay bonuses and for meetings in luxury destinations. “They got chastised by the government for doing both of those things,” Pinkowski says. “So the whiplash effect has been other companies which were planning to go to Four Seasons or Ritz Carlton or another fabulous location, canceled their plans or changed their plans to another location.”

The current lending market is another reason. “If you’re trying to borrow $50 million or $60 million, it’s not the best of conditions and the best deal you would want for a project that size,” Browne says. Finally, Peabody Hotel Group, Belz’s hotel company, is halfway through a $450 million-$500 million, 750-room expansion at its Orlando, Fla., hotel. “That’s a huge project and I think that’s taken a lot of focus,” Browne says.

Johnny Ryall Jan 30, 2010 10:14 PM

Bass Pro officials to examine Pyramid infrastructure
By Amos Maki

Officials with Bass Pro Shops set up at two small tables in the middle of the Pyramid floor while they continue due diligence work on the structure of the facility.

Officials with Bass Pro Shops are in town for the next two days to continue due diligence work on The Pyramid. Bass Pro is still moving forward with plans to transform the empty arena into a combination retail space and conservation exhibit, but officials with the Springfield, MO.,-based retailer, who have previously voiced concerns over seismic issues and the structural integrity of the building, want a closer look at the flood wall behind the facility. “They are continuing their due diligence,” said Robert Lipscomb, director of Housing and Community Development and point man for major city redevelopment projects. Lipscomb is still confident that Bass Pro will do the Pyramid project and said the company is exploring every possible issue before investing the money necessary to turn the property into a $100 million destination retail center that would draw crowds from across the Mid-South.

Anecdotal evidence suggests privately-owned Bass Pro is still very interested in the project. Bass Pro Shops president Jim Hagale gave City Council members an update on the project in October, saying he hoped negotiations and due diligence could be wrapped up in the next 30 to 60 days. "The sooner the better as far as we are concerned,’ Hagale said. In addition, Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris, who turned the company from a back-room operation at his father’s liquor store into a retail giant with over $1.5 billion in annual sales, has been very engaged with the project, visiting Memphis four or five times in the last six months.

During the October update, Bass Pro officials told the city an additional investment of nearly $20 million - to be paid with federal funds and grants - would be required to bring the building up to code and meet seismic requirements. Last November, the City Council and Shelby County Commission gave Bass Pro 12 months to finish planning and gathering the necessary permits before signing a long-term lease on The Pyramid. Bass Pro agreed to make monthly payments of $35,000 and to pay a $500,000 penalty if it pulled out of the deal. Bass Pro has been making those payments and spending more money on architects and planners, another sign, Lipscomb said, that the retailer is still serious about the project. “They have been spending serious money,” Lipscomb said. “Why would they continue to do that if they weren’t interested?”

Johnny Ryall Jan 30, 2010 10:16 PM

Memphis College of Art developing graduate school Downtown
Memphis Business Journal - by Andy Ashby

Memphis College of Art is looking to move its graduate school Downtown to the South Main Historic Arts District. MCA plans to purchase and renovate a five-story building at 477 S. Main for $2.9 million where it will develop the school serving more than 100 graduate students and faculty. Plans for the building include more than 55,000 square feet of educational space and a 3,500-square-foot retail storefront gallery.

The college is going before the Center City Development Corp. Wednesday morning to seek financial incentives, including a $180,000 development loan, a $40,000 retail forgivable loan and a $30,000 facade improvement grant. It will also ask the CCDC board for a $200,000 project development grant. If approved, the project could start in February and be completed by the fall. MCA's graduate program is currently housed in its Midtown campus, at 1930 Poplar Avenue.

Askew Nixon Ferguson Architects will design the project while Montgomery Martin Contractors LLC will be the general contractor. The board will also hear from lawyers T. Clifton Harviel, Barry J. McWhirter, Arthur E. Quinn and Michael J. Stengel who plan to open a 2,668-square-foot office at Lincoln America Tower.

Johnny Ryall Jan 30, 2010 10:17 PM

Opening in Febuary 2010
Construction of an 8-story, $21.1 million, 131-room Courtyard Marriott Hotel in Downtown Memphis with approximately 23,000sf of commercial space.

Johnny Ryall Jan 30, 2010 10:18 PM

Main Street’s ‘Big Hole’ Reaches Symbolic Milestone with Barboro Flats
ANDY MEEK | The Daily News

Previously: Today’s topping off ceremony for what once was a giant hole at 100 S. Main St. represents a milestone. By next summer, the property will be the site of a parking garage and 92 apartment units. The mixed-use development owned by 100 South Main Partners and the Downtown Parking Authority. The ceremony also brings the finish line in sight for what’s been a much-anticipated and long-delayed redevelopment of a centerpiece of Downtown’s Demonstration Block. That’s how the Center City Commission refers to the two-block stretch of Main Street that extends from Union Avenue to Gayoso Avenue.

Full article:

Johnny Ryall Jan 30, 2010 10:18 PM

New 11-story, $77 million, 300-room luxury hotel tower for South Forum District
Royal Phoenix Development LLC plans to build a new luxury hotel and parking garage at the southeast corner of Linden and Fourth in the South Forum neighborhood. Project plans were approved by the Memphis and Shelby County Land Use Control Board in August. The hotel is scheduled for completion in late 2011/ early 2012.

Tennessee Air National Guard Airlift Wing C-5 Hangar

Tennessee Air National Guard Airlift Wing Administration Building

University of Tennessee Health Science Center Eye Lab - Memphis


Smith & Nephew

Johnny Ryall Feb 2, 2010 5:12 PM

East Memphis
East Memphis' Triad Centre III prepares to open

Triad Centre III is the third in a three-building office complex totaling nearly 400,000 square feet of Class-A office space. It offers a prime office location in the heart of the Poplar corridor, the center of business in Memphis. This seven-story office building will feature an impressive front entry and thru-lobby with granite floors, mahogany wall panels, and barrel vaulted ceiling.

The $30 million project includes an 821-space parking garage that will serve both the new building and its older sibling office buildings, now known simply as 6000 Poplar and 6060 Poplar.

The older buildings will be renamed Triad Centre I and II in a rebranding of Highwoods Properties' 10-acre complex at Poplar at Shady Grove.

Johnny Ryall Feb 3, 2010 3:49 AM

Goodlett Farms (NorthEast Memphis) News
Smith & Nephew completes $14M acquisition of site for new HQ
the Commercial Appeal | By Toby Sells

Smith & Nephew Inc. completed the $14 million acquisition of what will become its Memphis headquarters on Friday and is ready to begin improvements that will bring employees to the site by late summer. The medical device maker bought the four-story, 285,315-square-foot building that once housed the headquarters of Harrah's Entertainment at 7216 Goodlett Farms. Harrah's left Memphis for Las Vegas in 2008.

The company said the entire project will cost $42 million in real estate, renovations and new equipment. Renovations will begin this winter. "This is not a simple real estate transaction. We will transform this property into the crown jewel of Memphis' biomedical strategy," said Joseph M. DeVivo, president of Smith & Nephew Orthopaedics. "Not only does this property represent the future for Smith & Nephew Orthopaedics, but I believe it will be a catalyst for future investment in our community by other biomedical companies."

The company is expected to move numerous nonmanufacturing jobs to the new site from its Brooks Road location. Management has repeatedly stated that the company will not move out of its Brooks Road location. The move will also allow the company to consolidate some of its U.S. business operations, such as information systems, to the Brooks Road campus. It would also free space for more manufacturing operations at Brooks Road.

The second phase of the Goodlett Farms project would include renovation of a warehouse to laboratories, conference rooms and auditoriums where visiting surgeons will learn how to implant Smith & Nephew's devices. The expansion project will create 160 jobs with annual average wage of $93,427, according to documents the company filed with Shelby County. Matt Kisber, Tennessee commissioner of economic and community development, said the purchase shows Smith & Nephew's continued commitment to Memphis and Tennessee.

Shelby County Interim Mayor Joe Ford said the move will be a further boon for the county and for Memphis. "You could not have asked a company to reward a city like Smith & Nephew has done," Ford said. Larry Jensen, president and CEO of Memphis-based Commercial Advisors LLC, represented Smith & Nephew in the deal. Harrah's was represented by Chicago-based Jones Lang LaSalle.

Johnny Ryall Feb 3, 2010 4:00 AM

December pickup gives hope to mortgage industry
ERIC SMITH | The Daily News

Atlanta-based SunTrust Bank Inc., whose local headquarters at 999 S. Shady Grove Road in East Memphis is shown here, made the largest commercial mortgage in December. -- Photo: Eric Smith

When mortgage numbers reach historic lows – as they have in Shelby County during the past two years – any improvement, however small, should be viewed as positive. The commercial lending industry indeed received a rare dose of good news in December with a bump in commercial purchase mortgage activity, as opposed to refinances. County banks and mortgage companies made 29 commercial loans last month. While that may not seem like much, that number represents a 32 percent increase from 22 loans made in December 2008 and a staggering 123 percent increase from just 13 loans made during November, according to the latest data from real estate information company Chandler Reports, It also marked just the second month in 2009 that enjoyed a year-over-year increase from the same month of 2008, with February being the only other month to achieve that status. It put a decent end to an abysmal year marred by an overall decline in commercial mortgages.

As Rick Wood, senior vice president for Financial Federal Savings Bank, told The Daily News for a recent article, the slowdown of commercial lending – especially in the capital markets – has had a huge impact. “It’s pretty dramatic in terms of where we are today with the availability of lending sources to make anything work,” Wood said. “If the lenders can continue to be active as lending sources at any level, that helps the liquidity in the marketplace. But the scrutiny of all product types in underwriting the operations of the property and the rent roll is going to dictate the future of real estate activity going into 2010.”

Leading the way
Commercial mortgages averaged $1.3 million in December, a 42.2 percent increase from $915,800 in December 2008 and a 37.6 percent increase from $946,641 in November. Last month’s average was the second highest of 2009 behind October’s average of $1.5 million. As for total dollar volume, December was tops with $37.8 million, an 87 percent improvement from $20.1 million in December 2008 and a 207 percent improvement from $12.3 million in November.

In a market defined by a dearth of reliable, viable financing sources, seller-financed loans became the primary way for businesses to get capital, albeit in much smaller amounts than normal. In December, Shelby County saw six seller-financed loans that averaged $112,841 and totaled $677,044. As for top lenders, Regions Bank, doing business as Regions Mortgage, ranked first in terms of number of commercial loans made, with three. It was the only company that made more than one loan all month, although the bank’s average mortgage amount and total dollar volume were low. Regions’ loans averaged $205,133 and totaled $615,400. The rankings by total dollar volume placed SunTrust Bank at the top of a list of companies that made one large loan during the month. Atlanta-based SunTrust’s loan of $4.3 million to SignificantPsychology LLC, the company that bought Crichton College, was the largest individual mortgage in December. SunTrust was followed by InSouth Bank with one loan for $3.1 million, Wells Fargo Ltd. with one loan for $2.7 million, Financial Federal Savings Bank with one loan for $1.48 million and First Security Bank with one loan for $1.46 million.

Trending up
Year to date, the mortgage picture is pretty grim. 2009 saw just 247 commercial mortgage loans, a 38 percent dropoff from 397 in 2008 and a 62.7 percent dropoff from 662 in 2007, according to Chandler Reports. Last year’s commercial mortgages averaged $734,372, a 39.2 percent decline from $1.2 million in 2008 and a 79.2 percent decline from $3.5 million in 2007. And last year’s total dollar volume of $181.4 million marked a 62 percent decrease from $479.9 million in 2008 and a 92.2 percent decrease from $2.34 billion in 2007. Just like during the final month of 2009, seller-financed loans led the category of top commercial lenders in terms of number of mortgages made with 58 loans averaging $389,660 and totaling $22.6 million. The top company for loans made was First Tennessee Bank NA with 17 mortgages averaging $523,721 and totaling $8.9 million. It was followed by Regions with 16 mortgages averaging $727,103 and totaling $11.6 million, First Commercial Bank (8, $709,000, $5.7 million), BancorpSouth Bank (7, $513,916, $3.6 million), SunTrust Bank (6, $1.3 million, $7.6 million) and First Citizens National Bank (6, $361,500, $2.2 million).

Johnny Ryall Feb 3, 2010 4:02 AM

Surface Dynamics receives tax freeze, will build $5 million facility in Bartlett
the Commercial Appeal | By Toby Sells

Medical device coating company Surface Dynamics has received a five-year tax freeze from Bartlett for a $5 million facility that will employ 41. The company is finalizing a lease of a 14,500-square-foot facility in the Axel Business Park Subdivision at 3110 Stage Post, according to its payment-in-lieu-of-taxes request.

Search employment trends
It will begin $200,000 in improvements to the space once the deal is completed but company officials believe it should begin shipping finished products by the beginning of June. Surface Dynamics will focus on applying a plasma spray to medical implants for hips and knees. The coating will help promote bone growth into implants. The company's target customers are manufacturers that make orthopedic, spinal or dental implants such as Smith & Nephew, Wright Medical or Medtronic. Its PILOT application said it has a letter of intent for services from a local company but did not specify which one. "We chose the Memphis area because of the concentration of medical device companies and its proximity to customers in other geographies," said Surface Dynamics managing director Roy Smith.

The northeast corner of Shelby County has 26 different biotechnology, or "life sciences," companies, according to Clay Banks, director of economic development at the Bartlett Area Chamber of Commerce. He said these businesses run the gamut from medical-device makers to pharmaceutical distributors. "(Surface Dynamics) will be a good, complementary business to the other medical device manufacturers here," Banks said. "We're also excited about the good wages medical device companies bring with them."

The median wage of a Surface Dynamics employee will be $51,063 with benefits included, according to its PILOT application. The 41 employees will work in either sales, administration or in light manufacturing. Surface Dynamics is owned by a small group of Italian investors, called Centara Srl, according to its application. That group owns four companies all specializing in coating either medical devices, airplane parts or power generators. The companies collectively employ 250 people globally and have annual revenues of more than $70.7 million. Surface Dynamics: In five years, the company says it will have 56 employees, and $2.8 million will be added to Bartlett payroll. Its plasma spray includes titanium powder, which gives bones a porous surface to grow into. Roughly 5,000 work in biotech in northeast Shelby County.

Johnny Ryall Feb 3, 2010 4:05 AM

Collierville unveils plan for downtown after months of meetings

the Commercial Appeal | By Kevin McKenzie

Debra Daws (left), Mike Hammond and Jay Easter, all of Dalhoff Thomas Daws, work on part of the downtown master plan for the Collierville Town Square, which will be expanded to someday serve as a vibrant neighborhood as well as a destination for tourists.

A plan emerging for the future of downtown Collierville calls for attracting more residents, expanding south of the railroad tracks and stacking up to three or four stories of shops, offices and homes in parts of the area.

Planners used numerous photos to help them come up with a proposal that would keep with the character of Collierville. Some ideas in the plan proposed Thursday are a downtown hotel and disguised parking structures.
After collecting opinions since September and following three days of intensive brainstorming, town planners on Thursday night unveiled the foundation for a Downtown Collierville Small Area Plan.

Town chief planner Jaime Groce said town staff will work to produce a first draft of the new plan by March. The Planning Commission, which will have the final word on its adoption, might receive the completed plan as soon as May. The plan, building on others in the past that were not officially adopted, envisions making the historic Town Square and its surrounding neighborhoods a vibrant neighborhood as well as a destination center for tourism, Groce said. Adopting "new urbanism" trends that scorn automobile-centered design, the new plan will recommend streets and blocks that invite walking and bicycling, mixed-use buildings and a greater variety of housing to attract more residents to the area.

Key ideas include: Expanding the Town Square south of the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks, which may include moving landmark rail cars that block the view from the south. Defining the area to include historic homes on the north side of Poplar and as far as U.S. 72, Collierville-Arlington, Maynard Way and Sycamore at other points. Allowing buildings of up to three stories, or four in some cases, in the downtown core, allowing offices and homes above storefronts. The idea targets streets including Main and Center south of the railroad tracks, Groce said. Encouraging a downtown hotel. Suggesting well-disguised parking structures. Adding connections to the town's greenbelt trail system, which would allow pedestrian and bicycle access to downtown. The plan, which Groce said is flexible and contains concepts for future development, would not affect zoning. Mayor Stan Joyner told about 60 people gathered in a downtown banquet room that his "administration is behind what you're seeing here."

Johnny Ryall Feb 3, 2010 4:08 AM

Southwest TN Community College expansion
Construction continues at Southwest Tennessee Community College on a new academic building that will replace the two main buildings on the school's Macon Cove campus.

The new academic building, which is designed by Looney Ricks Kiss and Fisher & Arnold, Inc., is budgeted at $17 million.

The building will include 59 new classrooms and labs, five offices. Ronald Parr, vice president of financial and administrative services for Southwest, says "It'll be 109,000 square feet, replacing 69,000 square feet we currently have."

Southwest currently opened a new campus at Hack's Cross and Forest Hill Irene to replace its Mendenhall campus, as well as constructing a new library at Macon Cove.
The two-story, 69,300-square-foot library includes a media gallery, cyber cafe/poets corner, and surround sound auditorium and multimedia conference rooms that will be available for community use. All three projects are budgeted at $60 million and being financed by the state of Tennessee.

Also in the Design/ Planning stage:
The Natural Sciences, Nursing & Biotechnology Building at the Union Ave. Campus in the Memphis Medical Center. Construction of 3-story structure; will include a 200-seat auditorium, 16 classrooms, a nursing wing, and laboratory budgeted at $16 million. Construction is expected to begin in Spring 2010.

Johnny Ryall Feb 3, 2010 4:14 AM

Methodist Germantown readies for next phase in $121 million renovation project
Methodist/LeBonheur Hospital - Germantown, TN

Memphis Business Journal - by Michael Sheffield

Interior at Methodist Germantown’s new Women’s and Children’s Pavilion ALAN HOWELL | MBJ

Shortly after Methodist Le Bonheur Germantown Hospital opens its new 218,000-square-foot Women’s and Children’s Pavilion Feb. 12, the hospital will begin the next phase of its $121 million renovation project: improvements to 100,000 square feet of space that previously housed the women’s care facility. Those improvements will include construction of a new 16-bed intensive care unit and expansion of adult surgical space, the hospital’s pharmacy and cardiovascular department. The renovations are scheduled to be completed late this year, says William Kenley, CEO of Methodist Le Bonheur Germantown. Once the project is completed, Kenley estimates the hospital will hire up to 100 new non-medical staff employees. It currently has 1,200 employees. He says changes to the existing hospital represent a shift in philosophy from designing hospitals from the caregiver’s perspective. “We’ve involved the patients in the design process and we’re incorporating a lot of things that will make this an asset to them,” Kenley says.

The structure will be the first LEED-certified hospital in the city, says Donna Hess, project manager for Methodist Germantown, and includes LEED features like low volume toilets and shower heads. The hospital recycled 89% of the waste products from construction. Ed Scharff, associate principal and lead designer in the Memphis office of TRO Jung Brannen, which designed the project, says the project was designed to reach LEED silver status, but the hope now is to hit LEED gold. “The goal was to provide a relaxed, low-stress environment in keeping with the neighborhood feel of Germantown,” Scharff says. “We didn’t see it as a very high-tech, polished, slick building, but depending on where it finishes, it’ll be the first in the city.”

Johnny Ryall Feb 3, 2010 4:27 AM

New Mercedes Benz showroom now open
Mercedes Benz of Memphis

Johnny Ryall Feb 3, 2010 5:22 AM

Previous Major Development
St. Francis Hospital - Bartlett

New hospital slated for further expansion with additional 4-story bed tower.

Johnny Ryall Feb 3, 2010 5:28 AM

Previous Major East Memphis Development
International Paper Corporate Headquarters, Construction of the 11-story Tower III

One of East Memphis' Fortune 500 Headquarters

Johnny Ryall Feb 3, 2010 5:30 AM

Previous Major East Memphis Development
Grove Park Center

Office Building / Retail, Size: 60,000 SF
The renovations to this property are complete, state of the art updates inside and out.

Johnny Ryall Feb 3, 2010 5:32 AM

Previous Major East Memphis Development
St. Francis Hospital recently completed renovations to its emergency department and its Chest Pain Emergency Center, $11 million

Johnny Ryall Feb 3, 2010 5:34 AM

Previous Major East Memphis Development
First Capital Center

The former Oak Hall Building in East Memphis is now the First Capital Building. Renovations to this 60,000 square foot building included interior work for retail and Class B office space, as well as the building’s exterior, which now features a new stone and glass facade. Also, this building contains "by invitation only" high-end jewelers.

Johnny Ryall Feb 3, 2010 5:35 AM

Previous Major East Memphis Development
Baptist Memorial Hospital for Women

The only freestanding women’s hospital in Memphis and one of only a handful of such hospitals in the country. Baptist Women’s Hospital offers labor and delivery, gynecological surgery, a newborn intensive care unit (NICU) and the Comprehensive Breast Center and is a regional referral center for high-risk pregnancies, mammography diagnostics and urogynecology.

Baptist Women’s Hospital was one of only three hospitals in the nation the American Hospital Association recognized for its quality efforts. The Quest for Quality Prize™ honors organizations that are committed to enhancing quality of care, patient-centeredness, effectiveness, efficiency, timeliness and equity as the basis of a comprehensive, quality-oriented health care system and have made progress toward making this vision a reality that other hospitals can emulate.

Johnny Ryall Feb 3, 2010 5:59 AM

Previous Major East Memphis Development
The Colonnade Building

90,000 S.F.

Johnny Ryall Feb 3, 2010 6:39 AM

The Lexington Condos & Racquet Club

Johnny Ryall Feb 3, 2010 6:41 AM

Previous Major East Memphis Development
Renaissance Center

Eight story plus partial basement, 190,000 SF

Johnny Ryall Feb 3, 2010 6:43 AM

Today East Memphis is the largest submarket of Class A office space with very low vacancy, the actual center of Memphis business as opposed to Downtown alone, not the greater central business district (Memphis Medical Center, Uptown, S. Main Street, etc.). The East submarket (proper) has approx. 100 office buildings approaching 10 million square feet. This gives Memphis the distinction of being a "dual core" city. Although, Downtown & the historical central business district of Memphis still dominate with tourism, medical industry, sports & entertainment as it boasts 2 Fortune1000 corporate headquarters as well.

Johnny Ryall Feb 4, 2010 1:01 AM

Memphis Metro Interstate System Development
Workers replacing four U.S. 63 bridges, soon to be U.S. Interstate 555 (Memphis-Jonesboro/ Paragould CSA [population=160,000]

the Jonesboro Sun | By Michael Wilkey

TYRONZA — Construction workers moving orange cones and white gravel into place are the precursors of things to come over the next two years as four bridges will be replaced along U.S. 63. Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department District 10 engineer Walter McMillan said workers with Robertson Contractors of Poplar Bluff, Mo., began work earlier this month. McMillan said the $7.3 million project will replace bridges near the Travelair Motel and a bridge, halfway between Tyronza and Marked Tree. From there, a bridge near Deckerville at the Poinsett-Crittenden county line and a bridge near Interstate 55-U.S. 63 will be replaced, McMillan said. McMillan, based in Paragould, said the Marked Tree-area projects will be completed first. “We will have detours,” McMillan said. “As they are working on one bridge, the traffic will be switched over to the other lane of traffic [on the 4-lane highway].” The detoured road will create a 2-lane road through the construction area, McMillan said.

Tyronza Mayor Marion Bearden said the project will make travel better throughout the area. “It is very much needed, but it will be difficult for the construction on such a busy stretch of highway,” Bearden said. Bearden said she has concerns over the narrowing of a road near the U.S. 63-Arkansas 149 exit because of the orange cones being placed. “You really have to watch it there,” she said. “I am just afraid about people who do not know the area.” Marked Tree Mayor Dixon Chandler said the construction along U.S. 63 near his community is needed. We’ll be glad to have it,” Chandler said.McMillan also discussed a related project — a proposed access road across the St. Francis Sunken Lands near Payneway. That work is now in its environmental study phase, and the bridge project is expected to be completed by late 2011.

Johnny Ryall Feb 4, 2010 1:10 AM

Memphis Metro Interstate System Development
DeSoto County, MS Officials Eye I-269’s Potential

ERIC SMITH | The Daily News

Interstate 69 is dubbed the “NAFTA Highway” after the North American Free Trade Agreement because it will course through the central U.S. from Canada to Mexico, connecting the continent’s three nations. One of the highway’s key links is Memphis, where the road will intersect with I-269, a beltway that when complete will loop around the area’s outlying communities and provide easier access for vehicles – passenger and freight – traveling into or out of the region. The southern leg of I-269 will stretch for 30 miles across DeSoto County, prompting officials there to begin planning for the road’s effect on potential commercial real estate development. No one understands the importance of I-269 for the county’s economic development more than Jim McDougal, director of the DeSoto County Planning Commission, who has been thinking about this project for the past six years. McDougal envisions the DeSoto County portion of I-269 as more than just another road project that causes urban sprawl, although that is one of the chief concerns surrounding the highway. Instead, he sees the road as an “international trade corridor,” where local, regional, national and even global companies will set up shop by building their distribution centers, transportation hubs and office headquarters. “Obviously it is a tremendous complement to our transportation and logistics industries in the area, but I think it also presents enormous opportunity for us to look at being a location for North American corporate offices,” McDougal said. “We’re right in the center of this whole logistical corridor, and what could be a better spot for dealing with all the commerce in the entire eastern half of the country than right here?”

International opportunities
McDougal’s concept moved closer to reality late last year when the county’s board of supervisors issued a request for qualifications from planning, engineering and architectural firms to create a master plan for the international trade corridor. The study will examine a corridor that encompasses two miles north and two miles south of I-269’s length – 120 square miles or 76,800 acres. A selection committee received seven submissions and narrowed the list down to two teams, each composed of multiple planning and design firms from around the country. The DeSoto Planning Commission on Feb. 25 will recommend a team to the board of supervisors, which will announce the winning bid at its March 3 meeting. The selected team will be tasked with conducting the entire international trade corridor study – with creating the “next major economic and social and cultural development in the Mid-South,” McDougal said. “A highway will develop by itself whether we plan anything or not,” McDougal said. “With an international trade corridor, we have a special opportunity to become part of the whole international business conversation.” The goal, McDougal said, is to find the highest and best land uses for this mostly rural acreage that stretches through the middle of the fastest-growing community in the Mid-South. One advantage DeSoto County has, besides a favorable tax incentive program for businesses, is its proximity to areas where automakers are making investments and where other economic development has sprouted in recent years. “We’re sitting here right in the middle of the Toyota plant in Blue Springs to our southeast and the gaming industry to the southwest,” McDougal said. “We have an opportunity, because so much of our area is open and not developed, to see what kind of development we want to be there and to have a tremendous influence on it on the front end.”

Regional transformation
Though McDougal said he couldn’t yet put a price tag on the project, he has applied for several funding sources and is awaiting responses. Also, the master plan will be completed with the help of the Memphis Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), the regional transportation planning group that helps cities and counties plan for their infrastructure needs and secure federal and state transportation dollars. MPO transportation planner Paul Morris said the international trade corridor study is a smart approach to preparing for a project that could transform a regional economic landscape already centered on transportation, distribution and logistics. “Memphis, whether people realize it or not, is a very, very significant player in the trade of not only America, but around the world, especially in terms of freight movement,” Morris said. “Whenever you build a nice highway, there are always people who want to develop along that corridor. The real question is: We need a vision of how that highway should develop.”

Existing High Priority Corridor> Regional>
Soon to be comissioned

Austinlee Feb 4, 2010 2:05 AM

Johnny Ryall: Thanks for your extensive postings. From the looks of it there is alot of activity going on in the Memphis metro.

I did not know that Memphis was a dual core city. Lots of good info.

Johnny Ryall Feb 5, 2010 7:23 PM

The New York Times | Next Stop
Roll Over, Elvis. Meet Indie Memphis. | By MELENA RYZIK

This is indie Memphis, a long way from the tourist crush of Beale Street and Graceland, in spirit if not in actual distance. Midtown, just a short drive from a downtown famous for its blues, jazz and barbecue hounds, is its hipster epicenter, a diverse area that is now home to posh cocktail bars as well as divey rock clubs and longstanding juke joints. It parties late, very late, and stays friendly through the night...

Full Article:

Where Memphis Parties

BnaBreaker Feb 6, 2010 6:13 AM

Johnny thanks so much for all your Memphis updates. I haven't responded until now, but I do look at this thread for updates every few days or so. You've done a great job compiling all this info.

Can you tell me where I-555 is going? I haven't heard of that.

Johnny Ryall Feb 6, 2010 5:39 PM


Originally Posted by BnaBreaker (Post 4684924)
Can you tell me where I-555 is going?

Thanks. Hwy 63 between Crittenden County, AR (I-55 junction) to the Jonesboro, AR area (with future plans to extend into southern Missouri) will be commissioned I-555. It is already interstate standards. Supposedly, all that's left to complete is a farm equipment bridge, so tractors don't use the right/emergency lanes to cross water at one point inbetween. This will be a very important route for the Memphis region as it will tie in an area that is currently designated as its own CSA with an approximate population of over 160,000. The Jonesboro CSA's southeastern border (Poinsett County) is adjacent to Crittenden County which is designated metro-Memphis. Also, Crittenden County is one of the 3 tri-state counties that contains the greater Memphis urban core. The other 2 being Shelby County, TN & Desoto County, MS. This is one example in part of why the Memphis MSA population is very underrated according to Census criteria.

cabasse Feb 6, 2010 6:12 PM

i just randomly came upon this thread, but i gotta say that round hilton popping up out of a lake is sweet! i can't think of any other buildings that are similar in that regard.

Johnny Ryall Feb 7, 2010 8:47 PM

Midtown Memphis

Johnny Ryall Feb 7, 2010 8:48 PM

1884 Lounge @ Minglewood Plaza now open in Midtown Memphis

350-person capacity venue that includes a cocktail bar, stage & dancefloor complete with pro lighting & sound system. The 1884 Lounge is part of the greater Minglewood Plaza and is adjacent to the larger 1,500-person venue, Minglewood Hall.

Previously: Minglewood Plaza, $6,000,000 (2 of 3 phases completed)

80,000 sq. ft will include three retail stores and a restaurant - plus a large entrance, atrium and courtyard - all of which will comprise Minglewood Plaza. In addition to the retail/restaurant components, the property houses Minglewood Concert Hall, a music venue that can hold 1,500 people. The DeHart Group, operating as Mad Will Properties LLC, bought the building in February 2007 for $1.7 million and promptly converted the second floor into corporate offices. The DeHart Group is a family-owned business that operates a host of companies ranging from third-party logistics and finance to human resources and technology.

Johnny Ryall Feb 7, 2010 8:52 PM

Playhouse on the Square Readies for Building’s Debut
JONATHAN DEVIN | Special to The Daily News
MUSICAL FEATURES: The orchestra pit is one of many amenities at the new $13 million Playhouse on the Square. -- PHOTO BY JONATHAN DEVIN

In anticipation of its grand opening production of “Pippin” Jan. 29, the new three-story Playhouse on the Square near Overton Square held its first preview event this week. The new theater is the culmination of five years of fundraising and more than a year of construction. “We wanted to give the community an opportunity to come in and see what we are doing,” said Whitney Jo, POTS’ managing director. “Originally we thought (the building) would be a bit further along, but it’s going to get there in time for the opening of ‘Pippin.’ The stage and some of the public areas were still under construction when about 100 artists, all of whom had previously donated art to POTS’ annual art auction, became the first guests Wednesday. Jo said POTS had reached its fundraising goal of $13 million for the project, $8.5 million of which covers construction. The rest covers architect fees and the purchase of the property at the corner of Union Avenue and Cooper Street. POTS will continue to raise another $3 million to fund an endowment to cover staff increases and other ancillary expenses. David Burns of the John Morris Agency in Chicago designed the theater. The same agency built Chicago’s noted Steppenwolf Theater after which the new POTS was designed. Jo said she and Jackie Nichols, POTS’ executive director, were pleased the construction funds were raised in five years, noting that construction would not have begun until the funds were secured. Some of the funds are long-term pledges, which will be paid off over the next four years. “We started building this theater in a recession,” Jo said. “We did have our moments when we plateaued in fundraising. We got stuck at $3 million forever, then we got stuck at $6 million forever. “But Jackie has never started something that didn’t happen. The community got with us too and said if Jackie wants it to happen, it’s going to happen.”

The city of Memphis handled demolition of the vacant Kate’s Antique Mall, which formerly occupied the site and had become a home for vagrants. The city also donated to POTS a pie-shaped parcel of land at the corner that extended onto the property. The theater was built into the concrete footing of the former antique mall in order to sidestep codes that mandated new construction to be 25 feet or more away from the curb. The new theater walls reach the sidewalk. POTS also asked for and received a height variance in order to build a tower to house the theater’s fly space, which allows wall-size pieces of scenery to be lifted over the stage. In the end, the variance wasn’t needed as plans for the tower were downsized to save money. said they also reduced plans for an “extravagantly green” park-like rooftop terrace complete with grassy lawns, which would have added about $100,000 to the cost. Instead, the terrace features potted plants and a storm water recovery system.

The house includes 347 seats on two levels, 100 of which are in the balcony. The balcony offers six boxes with two seats each. The former POTS had 258 seats. The stage features trap doors in the floor with a basement underneath and an orchestra pit that is wheelchair accessible by elevator. “Our orchestra no longer has to play in a hallway,” Jo said. “When the building’s foundation was poured we all went down there and cried because we could see our musicians having light and space.” The building also offers expanded gallery and party space.

The five-story building immediately behind the new POTS on Union, which was also purchased by the theater, had no major structural changes, but now serves as administrative offices, rehearsal space, storage space, costume shop, dressing rooms, a green room and will eventually have a first floor café. POTS staff moved into their new offices in December. In February, the other buildings in POTS’ campus will shift as well. Circuit Playhouse, POTS’ non-residential community theater, will move from 1705 Poplar Ave. at Evergreen Street to the existing POTS theater at 51 S. Cooper St. The old Circuit Playhouse will be renamed the Evergreen Theatre and will be leased to TheatreWorks for $1 per year. TheatreWorks at 2085 Monroe Ave. will operate in its current building and in the Evergreen Theatre. POTS’ Varnell Education Building at 1711 Poplar will continue to be the site of its youth acting programs.

Johnny Ryall Feb 7, 2010 9:00 PM

MCA's new residence hall rises in Midtown
the Commercial Appeal | By Juanita Cousins

The Memphis College of Art is enlarging its campus footprint with a $3.3 million student residence hall and three residential properties. An artist rendering of Memphis College of Art's Metz Hall and the new dormitory space.
at 139 N. Barksdale in Midtown. The building will be a mirror image of the Metz Hall residence structure, which was built in 2004. MCA President Jeffrey Nesin said the student residences help "build community among students."

The 24,000-square-foot facility will house 47 students on three floors of apartment-like suites, said the project's lead architect Rebecca Conrad, a partner at Askew Nixon Ferguson. Each suite will have four bedrooms, two baths, a full kitchen and laundry amenities. The fourth floor will have a studio, activity space and warming kitchen, which the college can use for special functions. The dorm is scheduled for completion in fall 2010. "It's just helping the campus further its identity on making it more visible in this community," Conrad said.

Last summer, Memphis College of Art spent $250,000 on three Midtown properties: two residential buildings on Tucker Street that now house 10 students, and a Rembert Street property that will eventually provide additional residential housing. Nesin said the independent art and design college set in Overton Park has thrived despite a slumping economy. Its Design for the Future Capital Campaign raised $8 million. The money will be used to increase scholarships, create a technology-driven curriculum, increase the school's endowment and build the Barksdale Street dorm. When Nesin became president in 1991, the campus had no student residential housing. Since then the college has acquired some 20 properties south of Poplar Avenue and built housing for more than 160 students.

Johnny Ryall Feb 7, 2010 9:05 PM

Levitt Shell @ Overton Park

It was built for less than $12,000 in the 1930s by the city of Memphis and the Works Progress Administration, but to relaunch the Levitt Shell at Overton Park – which the city closed a few years ago after years of inactivity and disrepair – it took a $1.3 million renovation plus the addition of new equipment, volunteers, staff, an office space and much more. It is the music venue where a young Elvis Presley played his first show in 1954.

Johnny Ryall Feb 7, 2010 9:06 PM

Grace St. Luke’s Episcopal School

42,000-square-foot multi-purpose facility, $8,000,000-$12,000,000
The school also plans a 2,600-square-foot expansion and renovation of an existing building on campus.

Johnny Ryall Feb 7, 2010 9:08 PM

Carrier Hall @ Central Gardens (U/Renovation)

Size: 9,000-square-foot main house, 2,500-square-foot guest house/bath house, and tea house with more than 400 square feet.
Imposing grand estate built in the 1920's on 1.3 acres in the heart of Midtown. Grand rooms & halls, interior limestone arches & remarkable floors place this home in a league of its own. Features: Wine cellar, large pool (14 ft deep), eight fireplaces and restored outdoor courtyard fountain. Also, it listed on National Register of Historic Places. Memphis boasts the sixth-highest number of historic properties listed on the National Register - about 11,500 buildings.

Johnny Ryall Feb 7, 2010 9:10 PM

Midtown Memphis, (Design/Planning) $180,000,000

Mixed-use project that will include residential, retail, office, medical office, and restaurant space on a 26-acre site.

Johnny Ryall Feb 7, 2010 9:16 PM

The MEMPHIS ZOO is home to more than 3,500 animals representing over 500 different species. This includes Giant Pandas, being 1 of only 4 zoos in the nation to have them. Created in April 1906, the zoo has been a major tenant of Overton Park for more than 100 years. In 2008, the Memphis Zoo was ranked "#1 Zoo in the U.S." by Since the early 1990s, the Memphis Zoo has invested over $80 million for renovation and expansion, making it one of the finest zoological parks in the nation.

Future Exhibits:
Teton Trek- Four acre exhibit featuring grizzlies, timber wolves, elk and trumpeter swans. Scheduled to open in fall of 2009.
Zambezi River Hippo Camp- A new home for the Zoo's hippos. Also featuring Nile crocs, okapi and flamingos.
Chickasaw Bluffs- Concept exhibit that weaves a boardwalk trail through 17 acres of forest land.

Johnny Ryall Feb 7, 2010 9:20 PM

The city of Memphis is moving forward with a $175 million plan to transform the Mid-South Fairgrounds into a multipurpose public space, complete with athletic facilities, shopping, parks and housing.

Johnny Ryall Feb 8, 2010 7:45 PM

Funds in place for Salvation Army's new Kroc Center
Construction could begin in January for facility near fairgrounds
By Amos Maki

The Salvation Army announced Tuesday that it has raised the $25 million in private funds it needed to trigger a $60million match from the Kroc Foundation for a new community and recreation complex in Midtown. The money will finance both the construction of the community center near the Mid-South Fairgrounds and a permanent endowment for its operation. “The hope really is that it brings people together from the different communities around Memphis,” said Stephen Carpenter, director of operations for the Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center. “... It’s really about building relationships and having a place where people can learn and be active.”

Memphis was selected in 2005 as one of 25 U.S. cities to receive a matching gift from the Ray and Joan Kroc Trust to build a Kroc Center. The 15-acre facility site, just south of Central on East Parkway, was purchased for $1.62 million from the city of Memphis in 2007. Demolition work to remove asphalt and other infrastructure on the site has already begun. The 100,000-square-foot facility will include arts, education, recreation and worship components, with soccer fields, basketball courts, a fitness center, an aquatic center and a 300-seat space for performing arts and chapel services. The Salvation Army hopes to break ground on the center in January or February, and construction is expected to take 15 months, Carpenter said.

“I’m really excited about them breaking ground so people can really see how awesome it is,” said Sutton Mora-Hayes, executive director of the Cooper Young Development Corp., based in the neighborhood just west of the Kroc Center site. In addition to providing the city with a recreational and gathering space, the Kroc Center will create full-time and part-time jobs that organizers say will put $2million to $3 million into the Memphis economy annually. The Kroc Center will be part of the city’s overall fairgrounds redevelopment plan to create a $175 million multipurpose space, with athletic facilities, shopping, parks and housing. “That’s the best news I’ve heard all day,” Robert Lipscomb, city director of Housing and Community Development, said Tuesday when he learned the Salvation Army’s $25 million goal had been reached. “It’s a tribute to their hard work and the whole project.”

Last year, city officials chose a plan backed by real estate developer Henry Turley to develop the area into a center for retail, entertainment and other purposes. But disagreements over fees have slowed that project, leading Lipscomb to consider alternatives. Currently, the city is meeting with other groups to formulate a vision for the site. “We’re trying to meet with every neighborhood group out there,” said Lipscomb. “Every time we meet with a group, we get a new idea.”

Johnny Ryall Feb 8, 2010 7:54 PM

Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium $30 million Upgrade & Renovations

Phase 1- $5 million (Completed): Gate 4 Reconstruction, Expanded Home Locker Rooms, Relocation of Visitor Locker Rooms, Media/ Conference Space, Female Restroom Expansion, American Disability Act Compliance. Additional Renovation Phases will continue for the next 4 to 5 years. Capacity: 63,000 seats, Built in 1965 (previous $20 million renovation in 1987).

Officials cut the ribbon earlier last year on what they hope will be a bright new future for Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, thanks to a number of upgrades. The locker room renovation cost over 1.8 million dollars, while the gate 4 project cost over 3 million dollars. One of the first things visitors will notice as they walk into the stadium are new ramps designed to make the building more accessible to the disabled. The disabled will also find that new seating changes will make it easier to see activities on the field. All around the stadium, special care has been taken to make bathrooms more accessible to wheelchairs and other devices. Meanwhile, in another part of the stadium, there are large meeting rooms that can be used for sports-related interviews or rented out for profit. Fans will also find that the stadium now has listening devices to help folks who need them hear games. And when you visit the Liberty Bowl, be sure to check out the new concession stands and locker rooms. Officials said plans have already been made to do more renovations in the future.

Included in the 1987 stadium renovation were the addition of the sky-suites located on the east side of the stadium, approximately 12,000 seats in the stands and a stadium club to accommodate donors. In addition, several areas of the stadium were vastly improved, including the lighting system, playing surface, handicap seating area, concession stands and restroom facilities. The largest crowd to witness a Memphis home football game at the Liberty Bowl was the record-setting 65,885 who attended the Tigers’ stunning upset of No. 6 ranked Tennessee in 1996. In December of 1983, city of Memphis officials named the playing surface Rex Dockery Field in honor of the late Tiger coach who was killed in a plane crash.

Johnny Ryall Feb 11, 2010 2:22 AM

Sold! Green Bay,WI wants to buy the Zippin Pippin rollercoaster
the Commercial Appeal | By Amos Maki

Green Bay, Wisc., mayor Jim Schmitt (right) talks with Green Bay's director of Parks, Recreation and Forestry Bill Landvatter today at Libertyland about how the Zippin Pippin roller coaster might fit into Green Bay's Bay Beach Amusement Park.

The mayor of Green Bay, Wis., says his city will buy the Zippin Pippin for its Beach Bay Amusement Park. Mayor Jim Schmitt, in Memphis today to see the vintage wooden roller coaster at its Libertyland site, did not disclose a purchase price, but said that most of the money Green Bay pays would go to relocation of the roller coaster.

"We're impressed," Schmitt said after his visit to the Zippin Pippin about 10:30 a.m. "We've talked to our engineers and this can happen." Also present for the on-site visit were Steve Mulroy, head of Save Libertyland Inc., and Green Bay Parks director Bill Landvatter. "I'm going to recommend that we work diligently to acquire the Zippin Pippin to relocate it to Green Bay," Schmitt said.

Johnny Ryall Feb 11, 2010 2:24 AM

It’s ‘full steam ahead’ for construction of $21 million Kroc Center project
Memphis Business Journal - by Andy Ashby

Artist's rendering of Kroc Center of Memphis exterior Photo Credit : COURTESY TRO JUNG | BRANNEN

Indoor aquatic center will be part of recreational facilities at Kroc Center. Photo Credit : COURTESY TRO JUNG | BRANNEN

Lobby area Photo Credit : COURTESY TRO JUNG | BRANNEN

The Salvation Army Memphis has selected Montgomery Martin Contractors LLC to build the $21 million, 100,000-square-foot Kroc Center of Memphis at the Mid-South Fairgrounds, a solid step toward a late February groundbreaking and the end of a challenging pre-development process. “It’s been great after all the neighborhood meetings and focus groups, to be able to meet again with people and show them how we’re doing what they want,” says Stephen Carpenter, director of operations for the Kroc Center. Before starting work with the Kroc Center in 2006, Carpenter had helped co-found New Hope Christian Academy and served as headmaster for 10 years. The site, which covers 15 acres fronting East Parkway and runs from Fairview Middle School to the Fairgrounds entrance, has been cleared of asphalt. Construction is expected to take 16 months with a target completion date of July 2011. “We’re just full steam ahead,” Carpenter says.

The overarching project includes the building and an endowment. In 2005, Memphis was selected as one of 25 cities to receive a matching gift from the Ray & Joan Kroc Trust. The trust will donate $60 million to the project. It initially was going to donate $50 million after $25 million in private funds were raised, but kicked in an extra $10 million due to the site location and demographics. The Kroc Foundation wanted these centers put in places surrounded by various economic and racial groups. There are currently 25 Kroc Centers in various stages across the country, from fundraising to breaking ground. A small center in Atlanta opened last year and two centers in Greenville, S.C. and Augusta, Ga., are at about the same stage as the Memphis one. The Memphis center will be within walking distance to residents in Orange Mound, Vollentine-Evergreen, Cooper-Young, Beltline and Chickasaw Gardens. “For us, you can’t get any better than the Fairgrounds,” Carpenter says.

The project’s land and building costs will total $30 million, leaving $55 million in the endowment for programming and events. Carpenter expects the endowment to have a long life since the nonprofit Salvation Army is fiscally conservative. TRO Jung | Brannen and Fleming/Associates/Architects PC partnered on designing the Kroc Center. TRO was responsible for most of the exterior design and site work; Fleming handled most of the interior design. Ritchie Smith Architects is handling landscape architecture, while Flintco, Inc., was involved in some pre-construction work.

Brett Ragsdale, senior associate with TRO Jung | Brannen, says one design challenge came from the building site facing the large educational buildings of Christian Brothers University to the north and smaller residential structures to the west. “We wanted to be contextual and to do that, we had some large masses which relate to the schools, but we tried to break it down to the scale of the houses across the street, using red brick to relate to residential across the street,” he says. Also, figuring out how to configure the building was challenging, since the Fairgrounds’ future is in a state of flux, especially land to the south and east of the Kroc Center. Initially, the Salvation Army thought it was going to receive 25 acres from local government, but that was scaled back to 15 acres when it was determined it would have to purchase the land from the government. “That challenged us because we couldn’t really cut a lot of programs or space, so we had to try and fit everything on a 15-acre site,” Ragsdale says. “We also didn’t know what was going on around us.” The Kroc Center will be built for four main components: arts, education, recreation and worship. “That’s true for every Kroc Center under way across the country,” Carpenter says. “But how those are defined depends on the individual community.” It will have a 300-seat auditorium that can function as a chapel or theater.

Johnny Ryall Feb 11, 2010 2:25 AM

Ground broken on first section of Wolf River Greenway
the Commercial Appeal | By Don Wade

On a chilly morning better suited to riding a stationary bike or walking on a treadmill inside a health club, three cycling friends with homes in Downtown, Bartlett and Germantown stood in the cold to watch the symbolic ground-breaking of the Wolf River Greenway. “This is wonderful,” Joyce Hudak, who lives Downtown, said this morning moments before Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, City Councilman Bill Boyd and others used gold-painted shovels to turn dirt under the bridge near the intersection of Walnut Grove Road and Humphreys Boulevard. “I hope they see it through to completion." Her friends, Brenda Ross of Bartlett and Cathy Distretti of Germantown, agreed. Together, the three middle-age women represented how the eventual 22-mile greenway, which will run along the north side of the Wolf River from Mud Island to Houston Levee Road, will sew the community together with so many green threads. “We’re building trails to connect our people,” Wharton said before about 250 onlookers. “That makes it one Memphis.”

Previous projections for when the 22-mile trail would be completed have ranged from 10 to 15 years. The ground-breaking today took place at the site of the first segment (part of Phase II), a 1.3-mile path between Walnut Grove and Shady Grove roads, adjacent to Humphreys Blvd. Citing current civic “fiscal constraints,” Boyd said, “I would hesitate to put a time limit” on when the greenway would be completed. Wharton did not hesitate. “We had all the various links (planned) going back to 2004,” the mayor said. “It will go a link at a time. It’s not going to happen overnight, but I would think over the next six, seven years it will be completed link by link.”

Construction of the first link, which will cost around $1.4 million, is to begin in a few days. On Thursday morning at 10, there will be another symbolic groundbreaking at Farm Road and Mullins Station for Shelby Farms Greenline, a rails-to-trails project on an abandoned stretch of CSX Railroad right-of-way secured by Shelby County largely with privately raised money. Phase I of the Greenline is a $2.4 million, 6.5-mile path that will connect several Midtown and East Memphis neighborhoods with Shelby Farms Park’s 4,500 acres. Rick Masson, executive director of Shelby Farms Park Conservancy, said it is “absolutely realistic” to finish the greenline and the greenway within the mayor’s six-to-seven-year projection.

Masson believes the completion of the respective trail systems will enhance Memphis in multiple ways. “It will greatly improve our self-image,” Masson said. “But it’s more than self-image. It will help make us healthier and get along better.” Cathy Distretti can’t wait to start pedaling on the new paths. Yes, she’s aware some people are concerned about crime on isolated stretches of the trails. But she has read where in other cities with greenways crime in those areas actually has gone down. Besides, she and her friends will do what they do now when they have to share the road with motorists – turn the wheels together. “We always ride in a group,” she said. “There’s safety in numbers.”

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