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Johnny Ryall Feb 11, 2010 11:32 PM

Not being too slick with graphic art software, I was wondering if anyone would be interested in adding missing highrises to the Memphis diagram?

First off, the Morgan Keegan Tower is a beautiful modern highrise and its diagram is very poor quality.

Missing: 99 Tower Place

Missing: The Great American Pyramid (soon to be mega-Bass Pro Shop, hotel, aquarium, etc.)

Missing: The Memphis metro's Gold Strike Casino in Tunica

Missing: Memphis Downtown Marriott

New u/c : Air Traffic Control Tower Complex

New u/c : The Horizon

Johnny Ryall Feb 15, 2010 6:49 PM

World Overcomers Church resurrects Hickory Ridge Mall
the Commercial Appeal | By Toby Sells

Bruce Rylant, Hickory Ridge Mall operations manager, checks out the refurbished double-decker Venetian Carousel, the mall's centerpiece. "(The tornado) struck right at the heart of this property," he said, pointing at pictures of the damage.

Two years ago, Patrick Jacobs looked to the ceiling of the Hickory Ridge Mall and saw the night sky. A tornado had sucked out a large chunk of the roof. Rain streamed through the hole. Mass confusion ensued, said Jacobs, the mall's manager, but no one was hurt.
But now, just behind the photos is the same space -- clean and fully mended, like before and after photos. "The mall has been made whole," said Jimmie Haley of World Overcomers Outreach Ministries Church, the mall's owner. Haley is the church's director of economic development and has been overseeing the mall project since the church bought the property for $1.4 million in 2008. His title defines the church's mission with the mall project. "Our interest in buying the mall was to make sure we did not have another place that would be closed or inactive," Haley said. "The mall is an integral part of this community, and we want to see economic development here not just sustain itself, but to grow."

Since the purchase, the church, known for its large sculpture, Statue of Liberation Through Christ, has spent $5 million renovating the property. But shoppers won't notice any dramatic differences in the mall, Haley said. The mall's signature double-decker carousel has been cleaned and repaired. Its steel entryway is getting a paint job. The parking lot will be restriped. But Haley said the mall will offer a wider array of services, like a proposed medical wing that will possibly offer everything from dental to mammography services.

The mall now has letters of intent from many prospective tenants -- some old, some new -- but neither Haley nor Jacobs could give details. Both expect a vibrant mix of stores. Despite all of the time and money spent on the Hickory Ridge Mall, Haley said the church is not looking for a financial return on the investment. "We're not looking to have the mall be a profit center for the church," Haley said. "There is not any interest from the church's perspective on a profit from the mall. "We made a huge investment, and hopefully we'll feel satisfied that we've done the right thing." The mall is scheduled to reopen Easter weekend.

Hickory Ridge Mall
Occupancy: 70 percent at the time of the February 2008 tornado
Previous owner: Sold to church by Carlyle Development Group
Size: 856,000 feet

Johnny Ryall Feb 15, 2010 6:50 PM

Mayor Wharton wants to pump $4 million in sales tax revenues into Pyramid area
the Commercial Appeal | By Richard Locker

Mayor A C Wharton’s administration wants to pump $4 million a year in state sales-tax revenue that Memphis is already collecting in a tourism development zone Downtown into redevelopment of The Pyramid and its environs, the Pinch area. But the plan received a mixed reaction today at Shelby County’s state legislative delegation, including a buzz saw of opposition from Sen. Beverly Marrero, D-Memphis. “I want to make sure no tax money goes to Bass Pro Shops, because they’ve been dragging their feet on this for years and have treated us horribly!” she told city Finance Director Roland McElrath during a presentation. Missouri-based Bass Pro Shops is in long-running negotiations with the city to turn the vacant and unused Pyramid arena into a $100 million shopping and tourist destination with retail sales, restaurants and a giant conservation exhibit on the Mississippi River and its numerous natural attributes.

Memphis created a Downtown-area tourism development zone under state law in 2004 in which the city is allowed to use whatever increases in state sales tax revenue is generated there for specific state-approved “public purposes.” Since 2004, some of that money is being used to pay off the debt on a major renovation of the city’s convention center. Now the city is asking the Tennessee legislature to amend the tourism development zone statute to allow the proceeds to also be spent on The Pyramid area redevelopment.

McElrath said the existing zone — which the city does not propose to expand — currently generates about $4 million more a year than is needed to pay the convention center debt, and the city wants to channel that into preparing The Pyramid for use by Bass Pro and ancillary projects around the iconic structure. A summary of the project given to the Shelby delegation today says the money would go for “making extensive improvements to the Memphis Pyramid and (the surrounding historic Pinch District), including retrofitting existing facilities and new construction. In addition to 600,000-plus square feet of retail space, the redevelopment includes: hotel, aquarium, restaurants, traveling exhibits, conference space, commercial office space, parking facilities, conservation and wetlands exhibits, museum and marina.”

The document said the total cost of the overall project is $275 million, including $200 million in “private investment” presumably including Bass Pro Shops and others, and $75 million in public funds. Of the public investment, $30 million would fund new construction and $20 million would pay for upgrades in the 40-acre Pyramid site; $20 million would pay for infrastructure in the adjoining area which the city is calling the “Gateway” component, and $5 million would be spent on acquisition of property in that area. The Gateway is bound by Shadyac Street on the north, Third Street on the east, Jackson Street on the south and Front Street on the west.

McElrath said the $4 million in surplus revenue collections from the TDZ are currently going into the city’s reserve fund.TaJuan Stout-Mitchell, the city’s government relations director, emphasized to the state lawmakers that Memphis is not asking for new money, only to expand the scope of what the money already being collected can be spent on. (Prior to the TDZ statute, the state sales tax would have gone into state government’s coffers.) Under questioning by the Shelby lawmakers, McElrath said the money would not go directly to Bass Pro Shops, which he said is the “only entity” the city is currently negotiating with for The Pyramid.

“This is not a bill for Bass Pro Shops,” the city finance director said. “But they would be the beneficiary,” Marrero said. “We think the citizens of Memphis will benefit,” McElrath said. He said any money the city spends on the project will be on components that the city will continue to own. Rep. Joe Towns, D-Memphis, agreed with Marrero. “I’m not supporting Bass Pro Shops at all. We need something that will bring people into the city, and bait and tackle won’t do it.” But there was support among several members of the 22-member Shelby delegation. “The Pyramid is there and we need to do something with it. We need to do what we can to encourage Bass Pro Shops, or somebody,” said Rep. Barbara Cooper, D-Memphis, whose district includes the Pyramid. Rep. Johnnie Turner, D-Memphis, said the Bass Pro plan would “at least” create a use for the Pyramid until the city can do better. Rep. Larry Miller, D-Memphis, said the project “makes sense to me.”

Johnny Ryall Feb 15, 2010 6:52 PM

Wharton addresses Memphis hotel industry at annual meeting
Memphis Business Journal - by Michael Sheffield

Memphis mayor A C Wharton addressed numerous city issues ranging from panhandling Downtown to the long-gestating Bass Pro Shops deal and the slow moving Beale Street Landing project during an address at the Metropolitan Memphis Hotel and Lodging Association’s 12th annual industry update meeting.

Wharton acknowledged that “the money simply isn’t there” to continue Beale Street Landing in its current incarnation, but he did say he wants to keep the project alive. “The original request was for $8 (million)-$9 million, and I would support funding to keep the project from dying,” Wharton said. “When it was conceived, we had riverboat traffic that is no longer there. We have to come back and retool those plans and decide what the current vision is.”

Wharton addressed the need for more aggressive laws to handle panhandling Downtown, a concern of hotel owners and general managers. But he was careful to make the distinction between dealing with panhandlers and persecuting the homeless, citing the need for injunctions that could lead to arrests of panhandlers.

Answering what has become an annual question during the meeting, Wharton said he’s confident Bass Pro will finalize its deal to redevelop the Pyramid, and he is planning a trip to the company’s headquarters in Springfield, Mo., in the near future. Wharton said in his almost weekly conversations with the company, he hasn’t detected any “foot dragging” or reluctance to complete the deal. He said the fact that the company is taking its time shows its commitment to the project. “I don’t want to do the Pyramid fast. I want to do it right so it doesn’t come back to bite us down the road,” Wharton said. “We’re getting paid thousands of dollars a month for it now, which we didn’t have until (Bass Pro) came along. Nobody else is standing in line wanting them to get out of the way so they can start working on (redeveloping) it. If there is, let me know.”

Johnny Ryall Feb 15, 2010 6:53 PM

Investors buy 14 units at The Edge at Monroe
Memphis Business Journal - by Andy Ashby Staff writer

John and Nancy Waddell purchased 14 units at The Edge at Monroe Condominiums for $1.46 million. Built in 2008 by Monroe Properties LLC for $4.5 million, the 25-unit project at Monroe Avenue and South Lauderdale Street contains 14 850-square-foot flats and 11 1,425-square-foot townhouses. The condo units are in a separate building from the town homes. Three units have been sold, according to Bologna Consultants LLC’s Downtown Condo Matrix, while several other units have been rented. The property has gated access, covered carports and storage units.

Vice president Tommy Bronson III and senior vice president Blake Pera with CB Richard Ellis Memphis' multifamily division represented Monroe Properties in the sale. “Monroe Properties really built a quality product when they built The Edge,” Bronson said. “Because the new owners were able to assume some favorable financing they have positioned themselves to be very successful in the coming years when the housing market rebuilds.”

Johnny Ryall Feb 15, 2010 6:54 PM

Small grocery and deli looking to locate Downtown, seeks CCC incentives
Memphis Business Journal Photo: Lance Murphey

Some local business people are looking to bring an upscale international grocery and delicatessen to Downtown.Rahim Virani and Hamida Pirani Mandani, owners of the City Market Groceries & Deli concept, have submitted a retail forgivable loan application to the Center City Development Corp. They will appear before the board on Feb. 17. Staff has recommended approval for the $40,000 loan. The loan will go toward the business’ start-up cost of $231,486.

Virani and Mandani are planning to sign a five-year lease for 2,880 square feet on the ground floor of Radio Center Flats, located at Main and Union. The business at 66 S. Main will sell gourmet and specialty foods, as well as prepared dishes. It will have a small dining area and a limited menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The entrepreneurs, who are planning to open City Market by May, also plan to apply for a $30,000 facade improvement grant.

Johnny Ryall Feb 15, 2010 6:55 PM

Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center project evolves from vision into a reality
the Commercial Appeal | By Toby Sells

Two years ago today, hundreds gathered on a cold, windy Valentine's Day to imagine a new Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center. Just beyond the ceremonial groundbreaking stood the broken hulk of what was the Memphis Mental Health Institute. The old building, being demolished, was a gnarled mess of tangled rebar and busted concrete. That building now remains only in pictures. The new Le Bonheur has been mostly realized. But seeing the final product, scheduled for a June delivery, still takes some imagination.

On a recent interior tour of the construction site, Dave Rosenbaum, vice president of building projects for Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare Inc., pointed at unfinished and often-cluttered spaces where rooms, roads, medical departments, patients and families "will be." For example, the new hospital's entrance will be a tree-lined, two-lane drive with a grassy median that will splay south from the new hospital and connect to Adams Avenue. But two-thirds of the old hospital will have to be torn down before that can happen. From the big door that will be the main entrance, Rosenbaum pointed one way to where a large cafeteria will be and another to the future laboratories. On a floor above, he pointed to a wide, empty shaft that runs 12 stories -- from the helipad atop the hospital to the emergency department on the bottom. It will be the trauma elevator. "I told them they can get everything they need on there except the helicopter," Rosenbaum joked, noting the elevator can haul 6,000 pounds. He pointed to what will be a movie theater that will show newly released films. He pointed to a spiritual care area, with prayer rooms for all faiths, including east-facing ones for Muslims. He pointed to a large steel beam in a ceiling that will hold an interoperative MRI so surgeons can see internal pictures of the patients as they work on them. He pointed to a family-training center where new parents can learn to care for their babies before they leave the hospital. He pointed to nurses' stations connected directly to patients' rooms so they can be closer to those in their care. He pointed to two, glass-walled neonatal intensive care unit rooms, fused together so one parent can watch twins.

Of course, real work fuels the imagination. About 700 workers toil at the new Le Bonheur site every day. "If you figure there's 2,100 hours in a working year, then every three days, we're doing a man-year's worth of work," he said. A handful of those on the job aren't just building a hospital, they're building new lives. Skanksa USA, the contractor building the hospital, teamed with Memphis-based Lighthouse Ministries to help those men finish the 12 steps to beating drug addiction. "I had a little trepidation when they first got started," admitted Skanksa project executive Mike Rayburn. "But they're on a tight schedule and are monitored closely by a foreman so there's little chance for shenanigans." Some of the workers have graduated from the program and have gone on to work for subcontractors working on the new Le Bonheur, he said. "Every one of those guys deserves a chance," Rayburn said.

While the construction jobs will go away once Le Bonheur's ribbon is cut, the hospital is either hiring or training 170 new staff members to cover patient volumes brought by the new space. The number of new employees will continue to grow as the hospital adds more programs, Le Bonheur CEO Meri Armour said, adding that the jobs will help keep the Memphis community strong but will also serve a greater purpose. "Every pregnant woman and every kid in the Memphis area is the responsibility of Le Bonheur," Armour said. "We have kept them safe for many years and the new hospital is a new way we can continue to advocate for them."

Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center
Cost: $340 million
Size: 640,000 square feet.
Plan for 2011: Renovation to current facility and parking garage

Johnny Ryall Feb 15, 2010 7:19 PM

Marriott's new Downtown hotel honors old memories
the Commercial Appeal | By Wayne Risher

Downtown's newest hotel celebrates history and puts an urban spin on a familiar brand, Courtyard by Marriott. A second-floor meeting and event space for 300 people, the King Cotton Ballroom, references the old King Cotton Hotel. The King Cotton, imploded in 1984 to make way for Morgan Keegan Tower, was previously the Devoy and the Elks hotels. It stood due west of the Courtyard site. "Our main ballroom is the King Cotton in recognition of the significant events that went on at that property," said Atlanta hotel developer and operator Greg Averbuch. "Right next to that we have the Devoy Boardroom. That's a name you don't run across. We wanted to be a curator of that history."

The eight-story, 131-room Courtyard opened Feb. 1 at 75 Jefferson, capping a 15-month, $21 million project. It's the first new hotel to open in Downtown since the Westin and River Inn in 2007 and one of few hotel projects moving forward in Greater Memphis during the economic downturn, industry consultant Chuck Pinkowski said. The Courtyard is Averbuch's third out of four hotels planned around Morgan Keegan and across Main Street from Court Square. NEXT UP FOR his SUMMIT MANAGEMENT CORP. is an EMBASSY SUITES on what's now a surface parking lot on Front Street. Bounds and Gillespie Architects took Marriott's Courtyard prototype design and adapted it to the site. Their goal was to create spaces that would function well for business travelers, tourists and walk-up visitors.

In The Bistro at Court Square, a curvy counter does triple duty: coffee bar in the morning, wine and liquor bar at night, servicing cafe customers throughout the day. Seating ranges from barstools to communal seating around a granite slab tabletop to semi-private booths with flat-screen TVs. Plans are in the works for outdoor seating on Main Street. For guest rooms, designers chose a single furniture piece combining desk, cabinets for clothes and a mini-fridge and coffee service.

Architect Danny Bounds said a typical Courtyard wouldn't have so many balconies. "We tried to take advantage of views in different directions by introducing a number of balconies, including wraparound balconies in two locations on the corners." Pinkowski said it's radically different from early Courtyards, low-rise cubes with a courtyard in the middle. "It's not your grandfather's Courtyard," he said. Averbuch wasn't done making connections to the site's past. A historical marker, removed for construction, will go back up on Main Street. "This is the site of Piggly Wiggly's first store, the first self-service grocery in America," he said. "We'll have a graphic that will go in the business library, with a picture of that store in 1917." After touring the property, Center City Commission president Jeff Sanford said, "I am genuinely impressed. It is truly a first-class property both in terms of its architecture and in terms of its interior space and amenities."

Johnny Ryall Feb 16, 2010 2:53 AM

Beale Street hits record revenue level
Memphis Business Journal - by Andy Ashby Photo Credit : LEE SWETS | MBJ

Although Performa Entertainment Real Estate, Inc., had a 2009 marked by lawsuits and other challenges, the company managed to lead the state’s No. 1 tourist attraction to record revenues with extensive plans for the upcoming year. Beale Street generated $31.8 million in sales for full-year 2009, up 3.2% compared to $30.8 million in 2008, according to Performa, which led the redevelopment of the street and handles leasing and management of the buildings. The company estimates 2009 sales generated $2.2 million in state sales tax and $715,549 in city and county taxes, not counting liquor sales taxes.

In February 2009, the city of Memphis filed a lawsuit against Performa, citing underreported income. The city used Philadelphia-based accounting firm Parente Randolf LLC , now operating as ParenteBeard LLC, to perform an audit, which was prepared by partner Paul Pocalyko. “This litigation has been a waste of time, effort and money,” says John Elkington, CEO of Performa. “We’ve been good stewards of Beale Street.” Performa hired Memphis-based Watkins Uiberall PLLC to do its own audit of Beale Street’s finances. “I have found no misappropriation of funds received by Performa or expenditures of funds related to the leased premises that were not permitted under the lease or Performa’s subleases with its tenants,” William H. Watkins Jr. wrote in the report. “The records indicate there were accounting errors, some of which were favorable and some unfavorable to Performa.” Pocalyko was asked to prepare a forensic audit for Jan. 1, 2002, through Dec. 31, 2008, for the city of Memphis. “The Pocalyko report does not reflect misappropriation of funds received nor expenditures made by Performa related to the leased premises, the lease and subleases,” Watkins said in his report. “All the receipts and expenditures are clearly reflected on the books and records of Performa’s financial records.” City attorney Herman Morris wouldn’t comment extensively on the suit. “It’s pending litigation and it’s moving on course to resolution by a trial date that’s in the not too distant future,” he says. “We’ve got very able council representing us in the matter.” Attornies Michael Fletcher, Jill Madajczyk, and Van Turner are representing the city. Elkington says Performa sends an annual report to the city every year and plans to make it available online. “They’ve created this tremendously false impression that we were hiding things and that we were not open about things, when in fact we’re the opposite of that,” he says. “This year, we have to show people that.”

The city owns all the buildings in the district except for the ones housing B.B. King’s and Club 152, according to Performa. Performa has a 50-year agreement with the city to develop and manage the district. The agreement was signed in 1982. While continuing to fight this lawsuit, Performa is moving forward with its plans for Beale Street this year. Most of the changes will be on Beale Street properties between Rufus Thomas and Fourth Street. Hard Rock Cafe at 315 Beale, People’s Billiard Club at 323 Beale and Eel-Etc. at 333 Beale all renewed leases this year.

The Ernest C. Withers Trust and Performa are moving forward with plans to develop a 7,000-square-foot museum and gallery dedicated to the famous Memphian’s photography this year. The gallery at 333 Beale is slated to open in April with the museum opening later in the year. Red Rooster Bar and Music Hall has signed a lease for 6,727 square feet at 340 Beale Street, formerly the Double Deuce.

Johnny Ryall Feb 17, 2010 4:28 AM

Teaching facility in works at Justin Timberlake's Mirimichi golf course
the Commercial Appeal | By Tom Bailey Jr.

Justin Timberlake's golf course has started building a high-tech facility for students of the swing. The Mirimichi-Callaway Performance & Learning Center, perched over the driving range, is scheduled to debut with the reopening of Mirimichi on July 24. "We really feel like we're setting a new standard for not only the growth of the game, the instructional component, the club-fitting, but also the practice facilities," said Mirimichi golf director Greg King.

The new learning center will be one of just 10 or 11 associated with Callaway throughout the nation. It will have a screened-in patio that shelters three hitting bays, so golfers inside hit out onto the range. The facility will offer three high-tech systems for golf instruction and club-fitting: The Callaway Performance Analysis System, which captures swing speed, ball speed, launch angle, spin rates, and other variables for finding the best club fit; Trackman Technology, which displays ball trajectory in real time; and V1 Golf Teaching System, which helps instructors diagnose swing flaws and offer lessons online.

The entertainer and his parents, Lynn and Paul Harless, bought the former Big Creek Golf Course at 6195 Woodstock Cuba Road, reconstructed the course and reopened it last July. But they have closed it for the first half of this year for yet more renovations. "The advanced technology and state-of-the-art building will make Mirimichi the one-stop shopping headquarters for the perfect set of clubs, custom-fitted to individual specifications," King said.

Timberlake is the first non-PGA Tour player sponsored by Callaway, a major golf-equipment manufacturer. "I think Callaway bought into Justin's appeal that covers many different generations and appeals to younger generations," King said. "So given his commitment (in the Memphis area), I think it was just a natural fit."

Johnny Ryall Feb 18, 2010 4:38 PM

Norfolk Southern gets $105M TIGER grant for Crescent Corridor
Memphis Business Journal

The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded a $105 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant to Norfolk Southern Corp.’s Crescent Corridor Intermodal Freight Program, which includes the planned Fayette County operation. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the grant gives money to the railroad to improve its rail lines and facilities between the Gulf Coast and the Northeast. The grant enables Norfolk Southern (NYSE: NSC) to begin construction of several previously announced Crescent Corridor projects, while delaying other elements for later public-private partnerships.

The Crescent Corridor is an existing 2,500-mile rail network through 13 states from Louisiana to New Jersey that touches 26 percent of the nation’s population and 30 percent of the nation’s manufacturing output. Norfolk Southern is building a $129 million intermodal terminal on a 570-acre site in Rossville, Tenn., just east of Memphis. It’s expected to open by January 2012. That facility will be able to handle 327,000 containers and trailers annually. There will be a paved area to park 2,177 trailers.

The $105 million TIGER grant joins funding from Virginia, Pennsylvania and money Norfolk Southern already committed to Crescent Corridor projects. The Crescent Corridor program of projects is estimated to cost $2.5 billion for full development by 2020. Crescent Corridor projects currently planned for development include new independent intermodal facilities at Memphis, Birmingham, Ala., and Franklin County, Pa.; the expansion of intermodal terminals in Harrisburg and Philadelphia, Pa.; and the addition of freight rail capacity in Virginia and Mississippi.

Johnny Ryall Feb 19, 2010 5:00 PM

Revitalizing Main Street
Officials pump money, resources into Downtown’s heart
ANDY MEEK | The Daily News Photo: Lance Murphey

The proposed City Market Groceries & Deli on Main Street is the latest sign of the long-sought fixes and additions along the Downtown thoroughfare that stretches from the city’s political hub to its vibrant arts district. The upscale grocery and deli, scheduled to open this summer in a commercial space along a highly visible stretch of Main, will offer a restaurant and neighborhood grocery near the intersection of Main and Union Avenue. It’s an area one Center City Commission official said, “We want lit up so badly.” The store’s managing partners, who plan to open it by May, have already secured a $40,000 retail forgivable loan from the Center City Commission, and they’ll go back for a $30,000 façade improvement grant in a few more months. They’ll take their design plans to the CCC’s Design Review Board in April.

Office leasing in crosshairs
Meanwhile, the CCC also expanded one of its financial incentive packages aimed at attracting new office tenants Downtown – a move made partly with Main Street in mind. The expansion, approved Wednesday, would potentially offer a six-figure grant to a large office tenant that locates along the Main Street Mall. The program was created last year to strengthen the Downtown office market by providing as much as $60,000 in grants to office tenants who sign or renew leases Downtown. The effort was prompted by discussions with Downtown office brokers who identified tenant improvement costs as one of the stumbling blocks to getting leases signed and keeping tenants in place. Center City officials are now upping the ante. This week’s change pumps more money into that program. And its goal is snagging a major employer Downtown – one that might have as many as 500 or more employees. That’s opposed to 80 or more, as the award’s grading scale currently maxes out at. “$60,000 might not have much of an impact” for big companies, said Andy Kitsinger, CCC vice president of planning and development. Center City officials have their fingers crossed the potential high-dollar grants – up to $195,000 if certain conditions are met – can move the needle in a large employer’s decision making, should they need extra convincing to come Downtown. The highest dollar amounts are awarded to office tenants that locate along the Main Street Mall. The original grant award program maxed out at up to $60,000 for office tenants with 81 or more employees along the mall. The new range for Main Street Mall locations starts with an award of up to $75,000 for employers of between 101 and 150 people. And it goes up to employers of more than 500 people with an award of up to $195,000 for locating along the mall.

Streetscape plan moving forward
Changes, additions and fixes to Main Street are tangible concepts for CCC officials, because Main rolls past the front of the commission’s office. But the impetus for another recent Main Street development is a nearly 10-year-old plan. The CCC has had a streetscape improvement guide on the drawing board since 2001, and the commission is ready to make much more progress on it than has been completed so far. The CCC has identified about $43 million in what officials consider high priority needs. Of that, about $4 million is along Main Street. “The public realm of Downtown Memphis is suffering from a major lack of investment in streetscape infrastructure,” the plan reads. “Sidewalks with potholes and patchwork, crumbling curbs, inaccessible alleys, and inadequate lighting have resulted from deferred maintenance and a lack of pubic investment.” One of the CCC’s boards this week threw its support behind pending state legislation that would make it easier to pay for fixing neglected sidewalks, curbs and other infrastructure along Main Street and elsewhere Downtown. The change being sought in the Tennessee General Assembly would allow CCC officials to tap a pot of money state law currently stipulates can only be spent on public improvement projects, like parking garages. The Center City Revenue Finance Corp. encouraged the Legislature to amend that language and allow use of a CCC trust fund – into which revenue from 60 developments constantly flows – to make the infrastructure fixes.

kingchef Feb 20, 2010 7:58 PM


Originally Posted by Johnny Ryall (Post 4694874)
Not being too slick with graphic art software, I was wondering if anyone would be interested in adding missing highrises to the Memphis diagram?

First off, the Morgan Keegan Tower is a beautiful modern highrise and its diagram is very poor quality.

Missing: 99 Tower Place

Missing: The Great American Pyramid (soon to be mega-Bass Pro Shop, hotel, aquarium, etc.)

Missing: The Memphis metro's Gold Strike Casino in Tunica

Missing: Memphis Downtown Marriott

New u/c : Air Traffic Control Tower Complex

New u/c : The Horizon

jr, i'm glad you have expressed some interest in this subject. i am, at this very moment, having someone teach me how to create virtual images, as well as images known as "hard images". while learning, i am creating the memphis i want, the downtown (s) that i like, and "what if skylines." i will share them w/ you as soon as i am finished. it is a real hoot.

thanks for the great info you give in this thread. kingchef

kingchef Feb 20, 2010 8:03 PM


Originally Posted by Johnny Ryall (Post 4694874)
Not being too slick with graphic art software, I was wondering if anyone would be interested in adding missing highrises to the Memphis diagram?

First off, the Morgan Keegan Tower is a beautiful modern highrise and its diagram is very poor quality.

Missing: 99 Tower Place

Missing: The Great American Pyramid (soon to be mega-Bass Pro Shop, hotel, aquarium, etc.)

Missing: The Memphis metro's Gold Strike Casino in Tunica

Missing: Memphis Downtown Marriott

New u/c : Air Traffic Control Tower Complex

New u/c : The Horizon

jr, i'm glad you have expressed some interest in this subject. i am, at this very moment, having someone teach me how to create virtual images, as well as images known as "hard images". while learning, i am creating the memphis i want, the downtown (s) that i like, and "what if skylines." i will share them w/ you as soon as i am finished. it is a real hoot.

thanks for the great info you give in this thread. kingchef

Johnny Ryall Feb 21, 2010 6:12 PM

...And the war rages on...
The Regional Medical Center at Memphis (The Med) generates over $80 million in federal funding annually. It is denied as the funds are redistributed to Tenncare & other public & private health care systems across the state. Its Level 1 Trauma Center, Neo-natal & Burn units are still considered state of the art, but its other areas of specialty medicine (peaking around 60) in older parts of its complex are fading fast. It wants to reduce its size from 1.2 million sq ft to apprx. 400,000 sq ft., build a new bed tower, disperse clinical activity into local neighborhood offices and concentrate on the Level 1 Trauma Center (also Neo-natal & Burn Units), greatly downsizing its "general hospital" aspect. Its vulnerable public model has been progressively attacked & abused by the state government for years. The Med has always been the most obvious & largest example of this unjust treatment of the public domain & failure of state leadership, but now others such as Nashville General Hospital are sliding into the Red. Even while TN Govenor Phil Bredesen lavishly spends 2/3 of the Med's funding across the state, he mysteriously acts as if Shelby County wants a handout when it is time to pay the bills...

Officials vow to fund The Med
the Commercial Appeal | By Toby Sells

State and local leaders, citing "unprecedented times," pledged to work together to find a sustainable solution for the financially ailing Regional Medical Center at Memphis. Deputy to the governor John Morgan, Speaker of the House of Representatives Kent Williams, R-Elizabethton, and members of the Shelby County legislative delegation toured the county-owned hospital Friday. Deputy to the governor John Morgan pointed out that The Med "is not a modern facility in a world that demands modern health care." "Understanding the fiscal problems of The Med is easier if you see the physical problems," Morgan said after his first tour of the hospital.

The hospital is a patchwork of 1.2 million square feet cobbled together in six buildings built between 1947 and 1994. The size and layout, hospital officials said, make the space inefficient, and that made many on the tour believe a new hospital should be built. "If you look at bringing real help to The Med from the state, then we've got to talk about a new Med facility," said Rep. G.A. Hardaway, D-Memphis. "The Med is antiquated. It's a dinosaur." The hospital's five-year plan proposes building a $318 million, eight-story facility that would house 310 beds on 420,000 square feet.

Asked if the hospital could expect any new funds from the state this year, Williams said there's a good chance, but no guarantees. He said officials should tap into the $575 million in reserves left in Gov. Phil Bredesen's budget. "If you can't afford clothes for your children, you go into your saving account," Williams said. "We have a financial obligation to the taxpayers in Tennessee. ... but we also have a moral obligation to care of the needy."

The tour came in the wake of a federal civil rights complaint filed against the state by Shelby County Commissioner Mike Ritz over state funding mechanisms used to pay hospitals for uncompensated care. Finance and Administration Commissioner Dave Goetz sent an e-mail to hospital officials last week claiming the suit halted further funding talks. Morgan said the e-mail was sent in frustration and that "the conversation is a lot easier to have when there's not litigation involved." Morgan and Hardaway both said funding negotiations for The Med were never discontinued.

While local leaders look to find $22 million in new, annual funding for The Med, TennCare cuts could trim another $50 million from the hospital's bottom line, likely forcing the hospital to close, officials have said. Morgan said the Tennessee Hospital Association is readying a bill that would create an "enhanced coverage fee" on hospitals to help close the proposed 22 percent cut to the entire TennCare program. Details of the proposed "bed tax" have not been made public. Regional Medical Center at Memphis: FTI Cambio consultant management team leaves Friday, New Med CEO Dr. Reginald Coopwood begins March 1, Officials said closure of The Med close would have an $800 million economic impact on region.

Johnny Ryall Feb 21, 2010 8:08 PM

ArtsMemphis grants $250K to Memphis College of Art for Downtown graduate school
Memphis Business Journal

Rendering of MCA's planned graduate school on South Main Askew Nixon Ferguson Architects

ArtsMemphis has provided $364,000 in enhancement grants to seven local arts organizations, led by a $250,000 grant to Memphis College of Art’s Downtown graduate school project. ArtsMemphis uses the grants to strengthen those organizations by providing them with designated funds. The funds are used to broaden audiences or to build long-term capacity.

Grant recipients include:

• Memphis College of Art, which received a two-year, $250,000 grant to purchase and renovate its new graduate school at 477 S. Main in Downtown Memphis;
• Memphis Symphony Orchestra, which received $35,000 to purchase a portable acoustic shell for use at the new Playhouse on the Square and to support outreach efforts in rural communities;
• Africa in April, which received $8,000 to purchase technology to support and enhance operations;
• Center for Southern Folklore, which received $12,000 to support a portion of its multi-year comprehensive media programs, including video production, production of a Southernfolklore app and Web site enhancements;
• New Ballet Ensemble and School, which received $40,000 for its Multi-cultural Community Arts Incubator and capital campaign;
• TheatreWorks, which received $4,000 to purchase stage lighting equipment that will simplify and improve lighting for groups that use the TheatreWorks facility;
• Voices of the South, which received $15,000 to purchase technology and related equipment. This grant is a challenge grant to raise an additional $5,000 needed to complete project.

Grant recipients are determined by the ArtsMemphis enhancement grant committee chaired by Anne Stokes. Members of the committee are Andrew Clarkson, Bruce Hopkins and Gary Wunderlich. “A large portion of this year’s funds support the Memphis College of Art’s expansion into the South Main (Historic) Arts District Downtown,” Stokes said in a statement. “We agreed that this specific grant has the potential to make a very significant impact. It will touch the lives of thousands of artists and educators for years to come.”

Johnny Ryall Feb 22, 2010 5:29 PM

Back to Life: Victorian Village to rise again
ANDY MEEK | The Daily News

Woodruff-Fontaine House Photo: Lance Murphey

A new chapter is about to be written in the story of a historic Memphis neighborhood once populated by statesmen, land barons and wealthy cotton merchants. Area stakeholders have several projects in the works to breathe new life into Victorian Village. Driving that effort is the untapped potential in the more than 150-year-old warren of architecturally notable mansions and small businesses. The projects include raising money to pay for a master plan for Morris Park, the city’s imminent reopening of two historic homes and a variety of long-range heritage tourism items. Funding is expected to be in place for the Morris Park master plan in a matter of months.

The city is taking steps to find a private-sector buyer for the shuttered Harsson-Goyer-Lee House at 690 Adams Ave., the earliest house in the city to have an air-conditioning system and once home to a riverboat captain. That would free the city from its obligation to pay for restoring the home. And its reopening would dust off one of the many relics that Scott Blake, chairman of the Victorian Village Community Development Corp., said make the neighborhood unique and worth preserving. “We’re probably the only Memphis neighborhood that has this sort of concentration of things,” Blake said. The still-evolving pieces of Victorian Village’s revitalization all build on the idea of burnishing that history.

Plans for the neighborhood include:
Encouraging the city to tap the CCC to market and sell the Lee House. City officials already are tentatively on board. But because the home was a gift to the city, several legal and real estate issues still have to be untangled before a new owner can enter the picture.
Raising an estimated $70,000 to pay for a master plan that can be used to determine the future of Morris Park. The six-acre park at Poplar Avenue and Manassas Street has two basketball courts, two playground areas, a pavilion – and a bad reputation. It’s known to attract drug activity and the homeless.
And reopening two homes the city shut several years ago because of budget cuts. A manager of historic properties is being hired to facilitate reopening the Mallory-Neely and Magevney houses, which will happen in the near future. “Someone is being hired to start putting those plans together,” Blake said. The Mallory-Neely House at 625 Adams Ave. is a three-story Italianate mansion with 25 rooms. Its stained glass windows were bought in Chicago in 1893. The Magevney House, a clapboard cottage at 198 Adams Ave., was built by Irish immigrants and is one of the oldest residential structures in Memphis.
The Woodruff-Fontaine house is now a fully furnished museum, which includes scenes from Memphis’ past. It at one time was a part of the Memphis College of Art. When the college moved, the house was put under a 50-year lease to the local chapter of the Association for the Preservation of Tennessee Antiquities (APTA). Photo: Lance Murphey

Johnny Ryall Feb 23, 2010 2:52 AM

'Sun break' metalwork out at county office building Downtown
the Commercial Appeal | By Tom Bailey Jr.

Renovation of the Shelby County Office Building in Downtown Memphis will include removal of the aluminum metalwork that shaded windows, but also made some people think the building was a jail. Some architects regard the structure as a fine example of modern architecture and see it as a historical loss.

Popular myth says the dense, decorative metalwork covering the windows barred inmates from escaping when the Shelby County Office Building held court years ago. That is one reason why so many people just never liked the look of Election Commission headquarters, said Cliff Norville, the county's deputy administrator of support services. "People always thought it was a jail because of that stuff hanging on the building," he said, "but it was just an architectural detail." "In my tenure with Shelby County I cannot remember a single positive comment about the aluminum on the building."

The truth is that the aluminum rectangles and squares of the brise-soleil (pronounced BREEZ soh-LEY, it is French for "breaks the sun") were designed to shade the windows at 157 Poplar. Still, the county is removing the sun baffles as part of a $5 million renovation of the distinctive-looking building at Poplar and Third, and some architects are disturbed over the historical loss. Alfred Lewis Aydelott, the man considered the father of modern architecture in Memphis, designed the four-story building that opened in 1964. "The aluminum screening is integral to the entire architecture, concept and presence of the building," said architect Keith Kays, who just co-wrote "A Survey of Modern Public Buildings in Memphis, Tennessee From 1940 to 1980." "It's a reflection of the technology at that time." Chooch Pickard, president of the American Institute of Architects' Memphis chapter, said the building "is a good example of how technology was developing in that period." "Whether a building is attractive or not is subjective," he said. "People who appreciate modern architecture appreciate that building."

Work crews removed the metal from the building's north side in December and will get the rest later. The county is selling the estimated 40,000 pounds of aluminum for recycling -- 25 to 40 cents a pound -- and will use the money to help pay for the renovation. Work also includes replacing part of the roof; replacing the single-pane windows with insulated, double-pane glass; replacing the heating, cooling and electrical systems; removing asbestos; installing a sprinkler system; renovating the elevators; installing an emergency generator; improving entrances, exits and restrooms to make them ADA-compliant; and remodeling some of the interior.

A spot check of people entering and leaving the building Thursday showed that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. "Personally, I don't like it," Karl Shelter said of the metal baffling that still dominates the south side. "It's just not appealing." But Tom Stephens said he has grown used to the building over the years. It's so unusual looking, he said, he uses the structure to give directions to others. "You tell somebody, 'You see a little short building with a cage on it?'"

Point, counterpoint on the building
County official Cliff Norville: With removal of metal sun screen, county intends to redo the window treatment in a way that adds new architectural flair. Architect Keith Kays: "Style and taste and appreciation of buildings are evolutionary, going through periods of like and dislike. It's important not to discard something because it's out of vogue."

Johnny Ryall Feb 24, 2010 2:00 AM

Memphis mayor Wharton provides Fairgrounds update
Memphis Business Journal

Rendering of the proposed 'great lawn'

Memphis mayor A C Wharton e-mailed a letter which outlined the city’s current and future plans for the former Mid-South Fairgrounds. Wharton wrote that over the past year, city officials have conducted dozens of meetings with community members and stakeholders to determine a new vision and forward course for the Fairgrounds. He said these community input sessions will result in a comprehensive development plan which could include a mix of retail, green space and family-friendly sports amenities. “As soon as details of this plan are made public this spring, we will select a project manager to bring this vision to life,” wrote Wharton, who has routinely updated constituents on public matters since taking office.

The city has cleared away structures at Libertyland and is planning two additional packages of demolition during the spring and summer. This demolition will include barns and other structures which were once used by the Mid-South Fair. The city will announce the demolition schedule no later than March 1. The city is working to help relocate the tenants of those facilities, including the flea market, Memphis Roller Derby and the AutoZone Liberty Bowl luncheon. After demolition, the city is planning a "great lawn" that will extend from North Parkway to the entrance of Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. Some asphalt near Libertyland will be seeded and sodded this spring and summer so that it can be used as parking for all Liberty Bowl events this year.

Green Bay, Wis., mayor Jim Schmitt has indicated that he will make a recommendation to his city council to move forward with the purchase of the Zippin Pippin. That would result in some of the roller coaster's wood and other decorative elements being resurrected at the Beach Bay Amusement Park in Green Bay, according to Wharton’s letter. In the meantime, the Zippin Pippin's wood will be cut, stacked, and safely stored in a weather-proof environment off-site.

Wharton’s letter also addressed the future of the Mid-South Coliseum, which the city closed in 2006 because of the prohibitive cost of bringing the venue into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Although this is clearly a facility that holds a special place in the hearts of many Memphians, we do not believe that we have the financial wherewithal to make the necessary upgrades to re-open the Coliseum, nor is it apparent that sufficient market demand exists in Memphis for a venue of its size to be open year-round,” Wharton said. “Our intention now is to convene a public hearing to determine the best options for its future, which may include its eventual demolition.”

Johnny Ryall Feb 25, 2010 6:08 PM

A little bit of news from the nation's largest urban park...

Shelby Farms Set To Begin Two Projects
The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports – Eric Smith

The Shelby Farms Park Conservancy has filed a pair of building permits with the city-county Office of Construction Code Enforcement to build a new playground and pedestrian bridge. The nonprofit organization that oversees two-thirds of the 4,500-acre Shelby Farms Park filed a $3.5 million permit for the playground and a $1.8 million permit for the bridge. Both permits list the park’s formal address of 500 Pine Lake Drive. Montgomery Martin Contractors LLC completed the permit applications as the “owner’s representative,” or the local contractor that is overseeing construction of the projects. Montgomery Martin project manager Scott Taylor said the company would recommend contractors to the Conservancy board for the projects this week. Both should be completed by October.

The playground and the bridge fall under the first phase of the Shelby Farms Park master plan, a 20-year plan created and administered by New York-based Field Operations. Shelby Farms Park Conservancy communications manager Jen Andrews said a groundbreaking ceremony for the playground will be held Tuesday. Field Operations principal James Corner will be on site to lead the festivities, including the unveiling of the playground’s design. Andrews called the new playground an innovative “outdoor play space that is very unique.” “This is our first big master plan launch project, the first time that we’re breaking ground on a construction project,” Andrews said. “We think this design really turns on its head the modern concept of play.”

The event also signals the start of a Shelby Farms Park project called “Rebirth of an Urban Forest,” which calls for the removal of privet and the revitalization of the park’s pine forest area that was planted 100 years ago for harvest. As for the pedestrian bridge, it will span the Wolf River and connect the Lucius E. Burch Natural Area with the Wolf River Greenway. The bridge will be on the south side of the park, linking into the natural area’s blue, yellow and white walking/biking trails.

The bridge groundbreaking will be held in March or April, Andrews said. It is a chief component of the master plan’s ideal for connecting each of the park’s designated areas. Andrews said these two initial projects, coupled with the Shelby Farms Greenline, are critical to keep the park moving in the right direction. “We wanted to come out of the gate and show people that this is not a plan that sits on a shelf,” Andrews said. “Even in hard economic times, we’re out there raising money, being successful and breaking ground.”

Johnny Ryall Feb 27, 2010 6:03 PM

Memphis Metro Development
Mississippi Gaming Commission approves site for new Tunica casino
the Commercial Appeal | By Tom Bailey

The proposed $75million Sportsman Casino took its first step toward getting licensed in Tunica this week when the Mississippi Gaming Commission gave site approval. The next steps for Abston-McKay Ventures will be a little tougher, including getting approval to proceed. By then, the company must have gathered the money to finance the project, said Allen Godfrey, the commission’s deputy director.

Sportsman Casino would inhabit the site of the Isle of Capri, which closed Sept. 4, 2002. Mississippi has 30 casinos, including 10 in the Tunica area. Abston-McKay Ventures will “refurbish the entire site and re-orient the property towards Sam’s Town, Hollywood and Resorts casinos, which will significantly enhance the casino strip area,” Abston-McKay Venture’s attorney, Wilson Carroll, said in a prepared statement. Sportsman Casino would be about 50,000 square feet, more than three times the size of the Isle of Capris’ gaming space. Abston-McKay anticipates the casino to be completed in 15 to 18 months, according to CEO Kevin Hunter. Abston-McKay and Orr Family Properties would own the casino.

Johnny Ryall Mar 2, 2010 7:42 PM

MED Woes Could Be Solved With New Hospital
Memphis Daily News

The annual funding crisis at The Regional Medical Center serves as a reminder of how little politics in Memphis has changed despite all of the claims of new leadership. What has changed is the problem at the long-neglected MED is no longer once a year. It has now become a year-round problem that lacks the certainty of money running short just toward the end of the fiscal year. As Deputy Gov. John Morgan has noted, some fiscal and physical problems are tied together in the aging facility, which for years has never been more than a collection of pieces added onto one another at different times. But even the thought of a new MED seems too “pie in the sky” given the hospital’s struggle just to survive another day. Begging for public money from the same taxpayers who already fund The MED not only won’t save it, it might do more harm than good. It does not instill confidence in an institution unknown to most of us in its scope and excellence until the moments we dread the most for ourselves and those we love.

Those who lead and fund The MED must convince the public it will be run efficiently. The goal of efficiency is more than a question of whether the leadership wants to run it the right way. The question is, can The MED as currently configured run efficiently even with the best leadership available and the highest motives? We don’t believe it can. We call for a phased dissolution of The MED to be replaced by a new safety net hospital/trauma center. The successor to The MED will take some time to build and there should be ample time to plan it before the first shovelful of dirt is ever turned.

Some of the considerations in planning are:
The use of federal Homeland Security money to build a modern, safe structure.
A recognition by the state of Tennessee starting with the next governor that from now through at least the first five years of the new institution, The MED and its successor must get back all of the money they give the state via federal money for uncompensated care.
As much as possible an iron clad agreement with Mississippi and Arkansas for access to the new facility’s ER by their citizens who cannot pay.
The threat of litigation on the two prior points as a last resort.
A paring of some of the parts of The MED that are simply there because they have always been there.
A recognition that the trauma center and safety net function of the emergency room are the core mission.
A cleaner line of local authority and funding responsibility that rests with Shelby County government until or unless local government consolidation happens.

Johnny Ryall Mar 2, 2010 7:43 PM

I-69/269 corridor moving forward as supervisors consider firm for master plan
the Commercial Appeal | By Henry Bailey

The Interstate 69/269 International Trade Corridor -- envisioned as a route to continent-wide economic impact for DeSoto County -- is rolling on beyond the idea stage. The DeSoto County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will consider planners' recommendation of a Cincinnati-based firm to conduct a strategic development master plan for the corridor. McBride Dale Clarion was the unanimous choice of the 15-member DeSoto Planning Commission, which acted Thursday after seven submittals obtained in October were narrowed to that firm and Nashville-based PB Americas Inc. ''We're very excited to be at this stage of the selection process,'' said Jim McDougal, DeSoto Planning director. ''McBride is the group that ranked highest among the seven at the initial application stage, and it ranked higher when it was in the final two.'' Applicants were ranked in nine areas, including expertise in major corridor projects and in public outreach. The public equation is very important, McDougal said, in building community support through a large number of private and public stakeholders. The plan, which will receive federal funding, is expected to cost several hundred thousand dollars with final figures to be negotiated after supervisors give the final approval.

DeSoto County has grown in population from about 50,000 in the early 1980s to more than 150,000 today, with an additional 100,000 people forecast over the next 20 years. The premise that supports the trade corridor, McDougal says, is the fact that the county is ideally positioned, both in geography and history, to be the cultural, economic, social and environmental center of the Mid-South. The corridor extends approximately 30 miles from U.S. 61 on the west to the DeSoto-Marshall county line on the east and will extend at least two miles on the north and south sides of the corridor. The planning area will encompass at least 120 square miles.

Johnny Ryall Mar 2, 2010 7:44 PM

Memphis Medical Center
Follett Corp. donates $250,000 for Southwest facility
Memphis Business Journal

Southwest Tennessee Community College has received a $250,000 donation from the Follett Higher Education Group for construction of the Nursing, Natural Sciences and Biotechnology facility to be built on the college’s Union Avenue campus. Follett Higher Education Group is a subsidiary of River Grove, Ill.-based Follett Corp., a $2.7 billion, privately-held company that provides products, services and solutions to the educational marketplace.

Southwest has raised $10 million of $16.75 million in funding for the proposed 74,000-square-foot facility. Southwest has received grants and donations from Baptist Memorial Health Care Corp., private donors and the Assisi Foundation since the plans for the new facility were first announced in 2007.

Johnny Ryall Mar 2, 2010 7:46 PM

Here's an updated post & pic of the new medical office building @ Jackson,TN's impressive medical center. It's jewel being West TN Healthcare's Jackson-Madison Co. General Hospital, the epicenter of the state's largest public health system and a Level 2 Trauma Center. Let's hope TN governor Phil Bredesen doesn't try to destroy this fine public institution as the Regional Medical Center of Memphis' fresh blood ($80 million dollars of federal funding) drips from his corporatist fangs.

New medical office building scheduled to open Tuesday
the Jackson Sun | By NED B. HUNTER

Construction of the tower and the elevated walkway cost $16.7 million.

A new medical office building that incorporates the latest in surgical equipment, Internet technology and patient privacy is scheduled to open in March. The building's design also is expected to give doctors' more time with patients in exam rooms and at Jackson-Madison County General Hospital. The reasons are the building's proximity to Jackson General and because its design clusters patient exam rooms around doctors' offices. "Everything flows in a circular fashion," said Dr. Brad Priester, "and that gets people into surgery faster." Priester is a retinal surgeon with Mid-South Retina Associates. His offices will be on the building's first floor. Internet and other industry innovations were adapted into the Medical Center Physicians Tower, which is to the south of Jackson General at 700 W. Forest Ave. Priester and his partner will use advanced microscopes to perform micro-surgery on the eyes. Health care system board members approved the purchase of three of the microscopes for not more than $385,000 at a Tuesday board meeting. "You will not be able to find a better microscope in the country after those arrive," Priester said. That technology, however, would be useless had engineers not installed the latest in air conditioning and humidity control systems in the medical office building. The systems create a nearly "fog" free environment inside surgical suites, Priester said, keeping equipment at optimal surgical status. "You cannot have any fogging occur when you are looking through the (eye pieces) of the microscope and other lenses," he said. "The air filtration system really enhances micro surgery."

The more than 106,000-square-foot Physicians Medical Tower is owned by Charlotte, N.C.-based Cogdell-Spencer, a Real Estate Investment Trust company. It was built on the south side of West Forest Avenue across from Jackson General by Erdman Co. - a division of Cogdell Spencer. It cost about $21 million to construct the five-story building. West Tennessee Healthcare, which owns Jackson-Madison County General Hospital, owns the land the building occupies. The health care system is renting the entire first and second floors and part of the third, from Cogdell Spencer. The tower's first floor will be used to perform outpatient surgery. The second floor will be a neurological center, while the third will house an in-house pharmacy. The first floor is just under 33,500 square feet. The health care system is leasing the floor for a little more than $698,000 annually for 20 years, according to hospital records. That does not include operating expenses. Utilities will be metered separately, and operating expenses will be billed monthly for actual cost. The second floor is just under 19,500 square feet. The health care system has a 10 year lease for $481,709 annually for that floor. That lease, however, includes all operating expenses, including utilities, real estate taxes, maintenance, janitorial services, etc. The third floor pharmacy is 662 square feet and is being leased for 10 years at an annual cost of just under $16,400, hospital records state. That lease also includes all operating expenses. Each of the three leases contain an annual increase equal to the Consumer Price Index.

Bobby Arnold, president and chief executive officer of West Tennessee Healthcare, said the system preferred to lease the building rather than pay for construction. "We weren't necessarily interested in owning office space for physicians," he said. He added, however, that the building is a necessary addition to the area's medical community. "We need more physicians in the community," he said, "and they need quality space like this in order to practice." West Tennessee Healthcare built and owns the eight-story parking garage that connects to the medical office building. The garage allows patients access to the building without being exposed to any inclement weather. There will be a second garage in the future. The health care system also built an elevated pedestrian walkway that spans West Forest Avenue. The walkway connects the medical tower to Jackson General's third floor elevator bank. The walkway keeps patients and hospital staff from having to cross West Forest Avenue. It is rated to sustain 190 mph winds, or the equivalent of an EF-4 tornado.

Johnny Ryall Mar 3, 2010 6:46 PM

Site Selection: Memphis ranks 9th for corporate expansions in 2009
Memphis Business Journal

Forbes magazine may say Memphis is ‘miserable,’ but Site Selection magazine has placed the metro area in its top 10 for new and expanded corporate facilities. The magazine ranked Memphis 9th in its “Top 10 Metro Areas: Tier One New and Expanded Facilities in 2009” for metros with a population over 1 million.

There were 58 new corporate location and expansion projects in 2009, according to Site Selection, bringing with them a total of 3,867 new jobs and more than $552 million in capital investment. Tennessee ranked No. 5 overall with 234 new corporate locations last year. The city’s ranking reassures leadership at the Greater Memphis Chamber that its MemphisED plan — the economic development piece of the broader Memphis Fast Forward initiative — is working, said Mark Herbison, the chamber’s senior vice president of economic development. “We continue to see a steady flow of existing and new companies looking at projects in Memphis, even during the sluggish economy,” Herbison said in a statement.

Site Selection’s research does not track retail and government projects, schools and hospitals. The expansions are all significant as well, since the magazine requires a project meet one of at least three criteria to be counted: involve a capital investment of at least $1 million; create at least 50 new jobs; or add at least 20,000 square feet of new floor area.

Johnny Ryall Mar 6, 2010 1:07 AM

Morgan Freeman’s club finds ground zero at former Pat O’Brien’s
Memphis Business Journal - by Andy Ashby

By April, the former Pat O’Brien’s space on Beale Street should be ground zero for blues in Memphis. Ground Zero Blues Club is signing a lease there, moving from a 5,800-square-foot space at 158 Lt. George W. Lee Ave. to the 13,000-square-foot building at 310 Beale Street. “Our team is so excited,” says Natasha Huffstickler, managing partner of Ground Zero Blues Club. “It will be great to be a blues club on Beale Street, the home of the blues.”

William Luckett and actor Morgan Freeman founded the first Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale, Miss., in May 2001. They opened the second in Memphis in May 2008. This new space, which will have a juke joint theme throughout, will be almost three times larger than its current location. The former piano bar on the east side of the entrance will have a dining room and band area. A smaller room west of the entrance will have a sports bar focus. “Also, there is a lot of patio space which will have additional bands and live music,” Huffstickler says.

Ground Zero plans to use the building’s upstairs area for one of its niches: private parties and large events. The company has hosted events for everyone from Major League Baseball executives to the University of Memphis. “We’ve done so much of that, we’ve had to turn people away because we didn’t have enough room in our current location,” Huffstickler says. The company will also now be able to handle larger functions, like wedding receptions, without closing down its regular operations downstairs. The second floor has its own bar and an elevator. It can hold hundreds of people and can be sectioned off for smaller events. The second floor includes a 50-seat patio with views of Beale Street. Ground Zero has hired Oxy-3, Inc., to develop a marketing plan.

The company is moving its current staff of 15 employees to the new location and plans to hire additional servers, bartenders and kitchen staff. This lease is part of the latest effort to improve Beale Street between Rufus Thomas and Fourth Street, which includes Hard Rock Cafe, People’s Billiard Club and Eel-Etc. “This is part of our plan to redevelop that end of Beale Street,” John Elkington, CEO of Performa Entertainment Real Estate, Inc., says. “That whole end is going to be completely different.” Huffstickler says Nick Harmeier, sales and marketing manager at Hard Rock Cafe, has already reached out about partnering in events.

Johnny Ryall Mar 6, 2010 1:08 AM

Report: Memphis recovering from recession
Memphis Business Journal

Memphis is beginning to recover from the recession, according to the Adversity Index published by and Moody’s Memphis was boosted by a 23.8 percent increase in housing starts compared to 2008, even though employment fell 2.2 percent and industrial production was down 4 percent.

Chattanooga, Clarksville, Cleveland, Tenn., and Johnson City were also considered to be “recovering” by the end of 2009, according to the analysis, while Nashville, Jackson, Bristol and Morristown were all still in recession. The state as a whole was considered to be recovering.

Johnny Ryall Mar 6, 2010 1:08 AM

One-of-a-kind playground to sprout at Shelby Farms
the Commercial Appeal | By Tom Charlier

A 4-year-old delivered the welcoming remarks. A television news anchor read from Dr. Seuss. But if the groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday was unconventional, so was the project it commemorated. The Woodland Discovery Playground at Shelby Farms Park, after all, is designed to shatter the traditional monkey-bars-and-swing-set mold. Part of a $3.5 million project, the playground will include an eclectic mix of features drawn from international research on "natural play," which encourages youngsters to be adventurous, creative, active and engaged. "We looked at playgrounds around the world," said Laura Adams, deputy director of Shelby Farms Park Conservancy, which operates the 4,500-acre park. "... We looked everywhere. We put it all together for the best imaginings we could come up with." The resulting design, by the firm field operations, centers on a serpentine, 1.5-mile-long willow arbor tunnel that opens into numerous rooms for play and wraps around several "nests" offering varying levels of activity. The playground, funded largely through a donation from the Plough Foundation, will be an "incredible asset" when it's completed late this fall, said interim county Mayor Joe Ford. Plough chairwoman Diane Rudner credited the efforts of local leaders over the past half-century to protect Shelby Farms from development proposals. And Barbara Hyde, who is chairwoman of the committee overseeing the master plan for Shelby Farms, said the playground will help create "the next great American park of the 21st century." A related project will restore the forested acreage adjacent to the playground. With the playground, Shelby Farms is embarking on an expansive scheme of improvements to be funded through a $75 million capital campaign. The improvements include a major expansion of Patriot Lake, a boathouse and amphitheater, a pedestrian bridge over the Wolf River, a water park, another playground, a cypress wetland area and the planting of 1million trees.

ChiSoxRox Mar 6, 2010 5:28 AM


Originally Posted by Johnny Ryall (Post 4633045)
Medical Center Light Rail Extension, $53,000,000

That is a sweet pic!

Johnny Ryall Mar 10, 2010 12:38 AM

Fairgrounds Jump Start on Council's Agenda
BILL DRIES | The Daily News

Memphis City Council members will be called on today to jump start the stalled renovation of The Fairgrounds. The push by the Liberty Bowl's three tenants is to get an immediate council vote on a plan to create a great lawn at the Fairgrounds and demolish seven buildings including the Pipkin Building. An ad hoc committee including council members and representatives of the three tenants met Monday evening to talk about current demolition underway at the Fairgrounds. The demolition of the old Libertyland amusement park caused some concern when it went into a parking area outside the park. Southern Heritage Classic founder Fred Jones immediately began expressing concerns that the new activity as well as the digging of a temporary siltation pond would cut the number of parking spaces available for his annual Jackson State-Tennessee State football matchup. The work was stopped several weeks ago as the council tried to sort out where the demolition ended and the creation of a “great lawn” during the brief tenure of Mayor Pro Tempore Myron Lowery began. “There’s a whole lot of work still being done,” Jones told the committee Monday evening of what he had seen earlier that day. City Housing and Community Development director Robert Lipscomb said it was only a “clean up” of the area.

At Monday’s meeting, the three tenants of the football stadium said they back going ahead with the great lawn project as long as the lawn, in some form, and a plan to demolish the seven buildings, most of which are livestock barns, can all be done by the time football resumes at the Liberty Bowl with the Sept. 11 Southern Heritage Classic. Some of the demolition contracts run out next week. Jones said he supports the concept of a great lawn from East Parkway to the stadium. But he questioned whether the plans would increase the number of parking spaces from the current 5,372 within the Fairgrounds property to 7,568. “We need to know exactly what we have. I don’t mean conceptually,” Jones said. “You’re not creating new spaces.”

Architect Tom Marshall, the city’s consultant on the project, insisted new and more parking will be created with the demolition of the buildings and Libertyland. Marshall offered to come up with a detailed map showing individual parking spaces for today’s council discussion expected to begin during executive session at 1pm. “I’ll even put in big cars,” he told Jones at one point. Jones was the only no vote in the seven member committee vote to ask the city council for immediate approval of the project. “I’m not really satisfied with what I’ve seen,” he said after he and others said the work by some divisions of the city including the Park Services division didn’t mesh with what other parts of city government were saying. “It’s just too convenient that the park services people weren’t here. Every time we say there is additional parking, I have not seen it.”

Council member Reid Hedgepeth moderated the session, trying to keep all of those involved from discussing past mis-steps. “From now on people are going to know what’s happening,” he said. “If we’re going to do it, let’s do it. If not … let’s send them home,” he said referring to demolition crews. Liberty Bowl executive director Steve Ehrhart said pre bowl game events should have some kind of building on the grounds to host them. Lipscomb said a tent will serve the purpose even though Ehrhart would prefer one of the surviving Fairgrounds buildings. “A tent would be better than those buildings,” Lipscomb said.

Marshall estimated what is known as phase one of The Fairgrounds overhaul could cost $6-million to $9-million. There are no plans for a second phase or anything else beyond the great lawn and the building demolition. The phase one cost could vary depending on bids and design work still to be done. Construction would start in June. But the council could vote on a specific design in April or May. “We’re supportive of it,” University of Memphis athletic director R.C. Johnson said near the end of the two hour session. “I’m more and more concerned about the land. But we want to move on it.” The construction of the Salvation Army Kroc Center on a Fairgrounds lot along East Parkway next to Fairview Junior High School is independent of the city’s on again-off again plans for the rest of the Fairgrounds property including phase one.

Johnny Ryall Mar 10, 2010 12:39 AM

University of Memphis previews spacious new University Center
the Commercial Appeal | By Chris Conley

University of Memphis archaeology graduate student Ryan Parish takes his daughter, Ali, 2, on a tour of the new University Center on Monday afternoon. Some of the new building opens for business this week in preparation for a grand opening next Monday. Photo by Jim Weber

Scattered around the University of Memphis campus are metal signs that read "CU @ the UC." The "UC," the new University Center, doesn't officially open until next Monday, but it's already drawing rave reviews from the UofM community it's intended to serve. "It looks very open," said senior Jena Eubanks. At 173,000 square feet, the $50 million project "gives the illusion it is bigger than it is," she said. "I really love it," senior Ashley Smith said. "It's very modern." "It gives us a hearthstone, a living room to connect and create even more diversity," said Ron Crawford, assistant director of the center. Inside work on the building was about 70 percent complete as the week began.

Inside the three-story red-brick building, intense natural light streams through a huge skylight in the middle. The layout helps pull the light into the offices, technology hubs, meeting halls, the 1,000-seat ballroom and the 350-seat theater. The natural lighting is enhanced by hanging reflectors that direct the light into what would otherwise be dark areas. It's a concept borrowed from ancient Egyptian constructions, Crawford said. Between 4,000 and 6,000 people are expected to move through the building in a given day.

The University Center represents the largest capital construction project in campus history. The 260,000-square-foot Ned R. McWherter Library, which opened in 1994, cost $26.5 million to construct. A $24.8 million living complex, with 486 beds, is expected to be completed by summer on the western edge of the campus. A food court on the University Center ground floor contains a Burger King Whopper Bar; a Taco Bell Express; Miso noodle, rice and sushi restaurant; Topio's classic pizza; Bistro Nineteen Twelve (no connection to Cafe 1912 on Cooper); and Tiger's of Memphis. There's also a Dunkin' Donuts in the building.

"We wanted something that was open, appealing and light," said Reb Haizlip, the building architect, "something to bring people together from all parts of the campus." Haizlip, who designed The Children's Museum of Memphis on Central, worked on the University Center for six years. The concept was to marry a traditional, monumental exterior consistent with the rest of the campus architecture with a more adventurous inside construction. "If we control the lighting, people will be magnetically attracted to being there," Haizlip said. "We carved a hole in the middle of the building and filled it with natural light," he said. "I think it will be a focal point for the campus," said Laura Hoffman, an employee in the second-floor Involvement Zone, where student organizations have offices. "It was a dreary day the other day," she said, "but it was so bright when I came in here."

Johnny Ryall Mar 10, 2010 12:40 AM

Another one for The Edge
Memphis developer to start construction of 50-unit apartment complex on Union this summer
the Commercial Appeal | By Wayne Risher

Cotton Mills, an apartment development at 607 Monroe in the Edge neighborhood east of Downtown, is moving closer to construction, a developer said today. Tony Crosby, managing partner of Memphis Student Housing LLC, said he hopes to have the 50-unit building under construction this summer. Crosby won Center City Revenue Finance Corp. approval of a one-year extension of a deadline for closing on a tax freeze for the project. Capping the property tax assessment at a pre-development rate for nine years would save the developers about $660,000. Crosby said the project had been delayed as developers worked out easement agreements with neighbors. The apartment site is between Kudzu’s, a bar and grill at 603 Monroe, and International Baptist Church at 627 Monroe, on a vacant lot that overlooks Union Avenue across from The Commercial Appeal.

Johnny Ryall Mar 10, 2010 12:41 AM

Expose on Triad Centre III and official tip-off about new 939 Shady Grove Bldg.
Apperson Crump adapts to one of city's newest, eco-friendly offices
the Commercial Appeal | By Wayne Risher

Three months after moving into one of the city's newest, greenest office buildings, a venerable Memphis law firm is still adjusting to the quirks. Apperson Crump firm senior partners can't park in the best spaces because they're reserved for low-emission and carpool vehicles. Lights go out without warning if workers don't get up and move around every 30 minutes. No one has used the showers on the first floor, but changing facilities and a bicycle rack will be there when employees start biking to work.

Apperson Crump became the anchor tenant of Triad Centre III in December, moving to 6070 Poplar from 6000 Poplar, both in the Highwoods Properties development. Managing partner Richard Myers said the firm was looking for expansion room, not environmental brownie points, when it entered into a 10-year lease to occupy the top two floors of the seven-story building. Its 46 employees include about 25 lawyers, "and we are in conversation with about 10 more who have expressed an interest in joining us." Myers said Highwoods made "an offer we couldn't refuse" because of operating savings from what developers say will be Memphis' first office building with the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design gold certification.

Features include water-saving low-flow plumbing fixtures and drip irrigation for landscaping; building-wide recycling of paper, plastic bottles and aluminum cans; and sun-reflecting roof and parking lot surface. Steve Guinn, vice president of Highwoods Memphis division, said, "We're looking to recoup our extra expense through operating savings. Our utility costs will be somewhat less. Our water savings, it's small money, but it adds up over a long period of time."

Triad Centre III followed Boyle Investment Co.'s opening of the SunTrust Building, 999 Shady Grove, in late 2008. Boyle has registered its next planned building at 939 Shady Grove to be LEED-compliant, but hasn't gotten close enough to construction to make a commitment, said Boyle executive vice president Mark Halperin. "I do think in the future new buildings are going to be LEED-certified," he said.

Founded in 1865 by a Confederate veteran of Shiloh, Charles Wesley Metcalf, Apperson Crump bills itself as oldest continuously operating law firm in the city. Metcalf's great-grandson is Met Crump, whose The Crump Firm designed the building. Myers said LEED-related features have come with a learning curve. Employees complained this winter about cool temperatures, but the thermostat is controlled off-site. It's disconcerting for lights to go out in the middle of a lawyer-client conference, Myers said.

Guinn said developers feared they were going overboard with 50 reserved spaces, but got twice that many requests for low-emission parking stickers for the three-building complex. Barbara Hepburn, a secretary and paralegal, was delighted to get a prime parking space for her Pontiac G5, which qualified as a low-emissions vehicle. "I think it's great, because we need to learn to save energy," said Hepburn. Myers said when he trades his Ford SUV, he may think about a greener machine. "Am I going to get a car so I can park 10 yards closer to the building?" Myers said. "Maybe that's something that tips me over the edge."

Johnny Ryall Mar 12, 2010 12:20 AM

Fairgrounds Work Gets Greenlight From Council
BILL DRIES | The Daily News

Demolition work at The Fairgrounds resumes now that the Memphis City Council has greenlighted the idea of a “great lawn” off East Parkway. Future council votes are still to come on starting $600,000 in design work and then approving the design. All city work at The Fairgrounds on the demolition and clean up of the old Libertyland amusement park, a temporary siltation pond and some asphalt removal was stopped several weeks ago.

Southern Heritage Classic founder Fred Jones questioned whether the changes would mean fewer parking spaces for those attending the September football match up as well as for tailgaters at University of Memphis football games and the New Year’s eve Liberty Bowl classic. Meanwhile, an attorney for Jones’ Summitt Management Corporation (SMC) sent the city a letter Tuesday proposing an amendment to the city’s five year lease with the annual Tennessee State-Jackson State matchup.

The existing agreement pledges that the city will “make every reasonable and good faith effort” to provide a minimum of 5,255 parking spaces from the existing 6,255 parking spaces. “My understanding is that parking has already been reduced by more than 1,000 spaces,” wrote attorney Matthew P. Cavitch. “The city has recently assured SMC not to worry, that by game day the city will actually provide 7,500 spaces. That would be wonderful, but at this moment, there is no reason for SMC to trust such a promise.” Cavitch proposes an amendment in which the city pays Summitt “liquidated damages” of $200,000 a year if there are not at least 7,500 parking spaces.

Council members were aware of the letter as they met for the second time in as many days to discuss whether to move with some renovation of The Fairgrounds. A rejection of the great lawn preliminary work or no vote at all would have meant leaving The Fairgrounds as is indefinitely. The lawn work and building demolition couldn’t have been completed by the time the Sept. 11 Southern Heritage Football classic begins the next football season at the stadium. The general plan approved by the council Tuesday evening on a 10-0 vote allows for the demolition of six Fairgrounds Buildings excluding the Mid-South Coliseum, the Women’s Center near the old Libertyland site, and the Arena Building. The Arena Building is where the Liberty Bowl hosts an annual gathering of 5,000 for the visiting teams and their families and friends each year. The Wharton administration wants to move the gathering to a large tent. But Liberty Bowl organizers and the city are still talking about which will pay the estimated cost of approximately $100,000 for the tent. The Arena Building could be added to the list of buildings to be demolished if an agreement is reached on the cost of the tent.

Johnny Ryall Mar 12, 2010 12:21 AM

Born in Memphis in the '70s, St. Blues guitars will now be made here
the Commercial Appeal | By Toby Sells

Tom "TK" Keckler, who designed the Bluesmaster in the 1970s, checks the action on a new St. Blues model recently as head of quality control for St. Blues Guitars. He also runs T.K.'s Guitar Services out of the St. Blues Guitar Workshop on Marshall.

The St. Blues Guitar Workshop story has everything a Memphis music story ought to have. It has a humble but precocious beginning, and a cast of characters from Elvis to Duck Dunn to MGMT's Andrew VanWyngarden. It has failure, redemption and a new road to the future.In fact, that Memphis essence is what the boutique guitar maker hangs its hat on.

St. Blues is consolidating all domestic manufacturing of its guitars at its Marshall Avenue facility, which will bring 25-30 jobs to the city.

"Memphis is a powerful brand in the music world," said St. Blues CEO Bryan M. Eagle III. "I looked around ... and said we've got as much right as anybody to plant the flag in the ground and say that we're 'the' Memphis guitar company." That right came from the company's storied past. St. Blues' signature guitar design, the Bluesmaster, began with a local musician everyone still just calls "TK." Tom Keckler, whose band The Breakers once headlined a show opened by The Yardbirds, mixed two popular guitar designs to form the Bluesmaster in the 1970s.

After a stint at Mike Ladd's Guitar Center, where he built and customized guitars for Elvis Presley and Jimmy Page, Keckler joined Strings & Things in Memphis, where he built guitars for Little Milton and Jeff Beck. He then joined a group to found Schecter Guitar Research in California, which is still a popular guitar brand. But the Bluesmaster design and the St. Blues brand were all but defunct by the late 2000s. Eagle breathed new life into them when he bought the brand rights and guitar designs in 2007. Since then, the company has assembled, shipped and sold its guitars from a manufacturing facility and retail shop at 645 Marshall.

St. Blues is also looking ahead with a renovation project that will give tourists a new place to learn about Memphis music and will bring all of the company's domestic manufacturing in-house. Eagle said the company will transform the front of its Edge-district facility into a sort of Memphis music museum to attract some of the nearly 100,000 tourists who visit its neighbor, Sun Studio, each year. Eagle said he hopes to have the project complete by August. The back of the building will become a guitar manufacturing facility that will bring to Memphis over the next three years 25-30 jobs that are now farmed out to companies in Nashville and Bozeman, Mont., Eagle said.

Andy Kitsinger, vice president of planning and development for the Center City Commission, said the CCC has expanded its retail incentives to include The Edge district and expects more retail to fill in there as the district grows. "Part of the momentum that is occurring in The Edge is the reason we are trying to build on the retail synergies there and have labeled it as a target area," Kitsinger said. "(The Edge) supports the core of Downtown and it also supports the medical center, and it's reinforcing transit-oriented development along Madison as well."

St. Blues Guitar Workshop
Market: More than 50 retailers in 27 states and Puerto Rico
Retail prices: $994 to $2,395
Of note: U2's Bono played a Bluesmaster when the band recorded "Rattle and Hum" at Sun Studio

Johnny Ryall Mar 21, 2010 6:57 PM

Elvis royalties rocket up by 34.6 percent
Memphis Business Journal - by Jane A. Donahoe Photo Credit : COURTESY ELVIS PRESLEY ENTERPRISES

Elvis may have left the building, but his star power is still growing. Elvis Presley Enterprises parent company CKx Inc. released its annual report Tuesday, which showed a 34.6 percent increase in Presley royalties and licensing revenue. The Presley business segment of CKx brought in $24.473 million in royalties and licensing revenue in 2009, compared to $18.186 million in 2008. Attendance at Elvis’ Memphis home was also up in 2009. 542,728 people went to Graceland in 2009, a 1.2 percent increase compared to 536,196 in 2008. Revenue from Graceland’s operations fell slightly to $36.124 million in 2009, a 1.6 percent drop compared to $36.713 million in 2008.

CKx also noted in the report that its planned, $250 million redevelopment initiative for Graceland and the surrounding area would need some retooling. It has been short on specifics for its redevelopment plan since it began acquiring land surrounding the deceased star's Whitehaven mansion. “The company has determined that there is a strong likelihood that the original preliminary design plans may require significant modifications or abandonment for a redesign due to the current economic conditions and a lack of certainty as to exact scope, cost, financing plan and timing of this project,” according to the report. Another wrinkle in the redevelopment effort is the terminated relationship between CKx and FX Real Estate and Entertainment Inc. The two companies entered into an agreement in 2007 that would grant FXRE the exclusive right to own, develop and operate Elvis-themed hotels, casinos and other real estate-based projects. The relationship officially dissolved in March 2009 when FXRE failed to make its annual $10 million guaranteed royalty payment, according to CKx’s report.

FXRE originally was set to develop one or more hotels at Graceland as a piece of the redevelopment project. CKx wrote off $900,000 in deferred costs related to preliminary design work for the redevelopment, but also said it “remains committed to the Graceland redevelopment and will continue to pursue opportunities on its own or with third parties.” CKx, through a partnership with Cirque du Soleil, recently opened a permanent live theatrical show based on the life, times and music of Elvis. The show, presented at the new Aria Resort and Casino on the Las Vegas strip, opened performances in February. New York-based CKx (NYSE: CKXE) maintains an 85 percent ownership in Elvis Presley Enterprises.

Johnny Ryall Mar 21, 2010 6:58 PM

Ritchie Smith to work on Discovery Park
Memphis Business Journal

Ritchie Smith Associates has been chosen to lead the planning and implementation of the multi-phase site plan of the $100 million Discovery Park of America in Union City, Tenn. Memphis-based Ritchie Smith Associates specializes in landscape architecture, urban design and planning. Its portfolio of work includes projects at Memphis Botanic Garden, Tunica River Park, Memphis College of Art and improvements to Overton Park. Work has resumed on the project after a lengthy delay due to a change in architects. The Robert E. and Jenny D. Kirkland Foundation, principal benefactor of Discovery Park, has named Verner Johnson Inc. of Boston as the new architect for the venue. Verner Johnson chose Ritchie Smith Associates as part of its team. Memphis-based Hnedak Bobo Group Inc. developed the site master plan for Discovery Park and was a finalist to be project's architect before Verner Johnson was chosen.

Discovery Park will be an educational venue for children and adults to learn more about history, nature, art and science. In addition to designing the main exhibit building, Discovery Center, Verner Johnson will also oversee the implementation of the site master plan and all exhibit design and fabrication. The foundation originally hired Ottawa-based Douglas Cardinal Architects Inc. as the project architect, but terminated the contract in the summer of 2009 after a dispute over performance and fees. The foundation was established by the family that started Jackson, Tenn.-based Kirkland’s Inc. (NASDAQ: KIRK). The project was originally intended to open in late 2010, but now its estimated completion date has been pushed to September 2012, according to a foundation press release. Selected from approximately 70 architectural firms, Verner Johnson specializes exclusively in museum architecture and planning and has completed more than 200 projects throughout the world, including several for the Smithsonian museums.

Work in the first phase is expected to begin late this summer with additional grading and other site preparation. Soon thereafter, landscaping work and the relocation of historic buildings will begin. Water will be a prominent feature of the site, with several pools and a stream that flows north to south throughout the park. There will be landscaped paths along the stream with several bridges. The Discovery Center will have approximately 35,000 square feet of exhibit space devoted to education in history, nature, science and art. The building will include a cafe, museum store, and a space for special events that will accommodate approximately 300 people.

Johnny Ryall Mar 21, 2010 6:58 PM

Delta’s Cincinnati hub takes another hit, Memphis International well positioned for future growth
Memphis Business Journal - by Jane A. Donahoe

Cincinnati’s loss could be Memphis’ gain. As Delta Air Lines Inc. continues to bleed jobs and flights at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, its future in Memphis seems well in tact. Delta is eliminating 840 jobs when it phases out operations in Concourse A at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. The changes are to take place by May 1, when Atlanta-based Delta (NYSE: DAL) had previously announced a reduction in daily flights from 180 to between 160 and 170. The airline currently operates about 220 daily flights at Memphis International Airport. Delta currently operates out of 50 airport gates in Cincinnati, including 22 in Concourse A. After the consolidation, it will operate out of 28 gates, all in Concourse B, and will employ 2,200 Delta workers and 1,800 workers at its Comair unit, an airline spokesman said.

While he doesn’t “wish any harm to Cincinnati,” Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority president and CEO Larry Cox admitted that Cincinnati’s loss is probably good for Memphis’ future as a Delta hub. Delta has been steadily cutting service at the Cincinnati airport in recent years. In late 2009, Delta said it would reduce daily flights from 215 to 180-190. Delta had more than 600 daily departures as recently as 2005 and Cincinnati was considered to be the second-largest hub in Delta's system. “Cincinnati has taken a huge cut, and essentially their hub is almost gone. It’s hanging on by a thread,” Cox said.

When Delta acquired Eagan, Minn.-based Northwest Airlines Corp. in October 2008, it took over Northwest’s three U.S. hubs in Memphis, Minneapolis/St. Paul and Detroit. Delta already had U.S. hubs in Atlanta, Cincinnati, New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and Salt Lake City. Part of Cincinnati’s woes can be attributed to its proximity to Detroit and Minneapolis and the number of surrounding airports nearby, according to Cox. Delta performed well in Cincinnati before the Northwest merger because it was competing with Northwest in Detroit and Minneapolis. “Now Detroit and Minneapolis are complementary hubs. Memphis and Atlanta are complementary hubs,” Cox said. “It sort of leaves Cincinnati all out in the pasture by themselves.”

Cox said Delta officials have assured him they are committed to Memphis as a complementary hub for Atlanta. Good weather and a low cost structure are two of the reasons Delta has been able to perform well locally, he said. “(Delta is) absolutely committed to Memphis for the long haul as a complementary hub for Atlanta,” Cox said. “We’re confident that with growth in the economy, Memphis is going to grow and get more service.” Memphis’ cost per enplaned passenger is the lowest in Delta’s system, Cox said, mainly due to the fact that Memphis does not charge a passenger facility fee, typically $4.50 per passenger. “If Delta wasn’t making money in Memphis, I assure you they wouldn’t be here,” Cox said, “The Memphis hub is performing as well as any of the hubs they have.” Delta officials said as much in a Feb. 22 announcement that the airline was adding direct service from Memphis to Amarillo, Texas, and Evansville, Ind., as well as restoring twice-daily direct service to Toronto. “Operationally our Memphis hub has been one of our highest performing hubs and with the overwhelming community support it is perfectly positioned for this additional service,” Glen Hauenstein, Delta’s executive vice president of network planning and revenue management, said in the Feb. 22 statement. There are several projects under way at Memphis International that are improving its function and allure, and prepping it to be ready for an economic turnaround in the airline industry.

Meanwhile, the airline is working to restore profitability at the Cincinnati hub, Gil West, senior vice president of airport customer service, said in a memo to Delta’s Cincinnati employees. “Delta continues to partner with the Cincinnati community to take steps to return the hub to profitability by focusing service on markets with the highest level of local demand and by implementing necessary cost-saving initiatives that make doing business in Cincinnati more efficient,” West said in the memo.

Johnny Ryall Mar 21, 2010 6:59 PM

Ring in the New Year at the Liberty Bowl
Memphis Business Journal

The AutoZone Liberty Bowl is moving back to New Year’s Eve. The 52nd annual game — which will be nationally televised by ESPN — will be played Friday, Dec. 31 at 2:30 p.m. The 2009-10 season’s Liberty Bowl game between the University of Arkansas and East Carolina University, played on Jan. 2, had a TV rating of 3.8, according to Nielsen Media Research. The game’s rating was up 65 percent from the previous year when Kentucky played East Carolina. The Dec. 31 date is “one of the most sought-after on the bowl schedule this year,” according to a statement from AutoZone Liberty Bowl’s office.

The Liberty Bowl’s affiliation with the Southeastern Conference expired after the 2009-10 season and the affiliation has not yet been renewed. Liberty Bowl executive director Steve Ehrhart said the two parties are close to securing a new agreement. The bowl still has three years left in its affiliation with Conference USA. The fact that the game falls on a holiday in 2010 means more fans will be able to attend, Ehrhart said in the statement.

A sell-out crowd of 62,742 people attended the Arkansas-East Carolina game, the second-highest attendance in the game’s history. The highest attendance the bowl game ever recorded was the 2007 contest between Mississippi State University and the University of Central Florida when 63,816 people attended. A few hundred seats were removed from the stadium in 2009 to meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.

Johnny Ryall Mar 21, 2010 6:59 PM

Graceland Redevelopment Remains A Priority
BILL DRIES | The Daily News

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. plans to roll out his first budget proposal next week to the Memphis City Council. When he does, the mayor will draw on themes he has emphasized since taking office in October. One of those is the area around Graceland. Wharton has repeatedly said redeveloping it is one of his administration’s top economic development priorities. The statement affirms an ambitious plan to promote the Elvis brand worldwide by Robert Sillerman of CKX Inc., the media company that owns 85 percent of Elvis Presley Enterprises. Since a 2005 unveiling of a $250 million blockbuster remake of the late entertainer’s Memphis home and its surroundings, Sillerman and CKX have suffered like other businesses in the worst national recession since the Great Depression. The recession has forced Sillerman to scale back plans outside Memphis and rewrite the Memphis plans with more cautious language. In CKX’s annual report, filed with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission this week, Sillerman and the company again talked of its goals for Memphis. “The company remains committed to the Graceland redevelopment and will continue to pursue opportunities on its own or with third parties,” the report reads. Before the last line in the annual report about CKX’s commitment to the Memphis part of its plan for the Elvis brand, CKX executives also reported, “The company has determined that there is a strong likelihood that the original preliminary design plans may require significant modifications or abandonment for a redesign due to current economic conditions and a lack of certainty as to exact scope, cost, financing plan and timing of this project.” Sillerman has met privately with city leaders about the project. He also appeared via a video recording at a 2008 Elvis fan club gathering in Memphis.

Earlier in 2009, CKX took a $900,000 write-off on the preliminary design work for the Graceland remake. The write-off followed the failure in March 2009 by FXRE, the real estate arm of CKX, to make an annual guaranteed minimum royalty payment to EPE. The issue was settled with a termination of the licensing agreement with EPE to develop one or more hotels at Graceland. The hotels could still be developed through a third party. CKX still operates the Heartbreak Hotel across the street from the mansion. In January, Wharton met with Sillerman in New York. Wharton said Sillerman told him CKX is more than committed to a revitalization of the Graceland area. “You won’t recognize Elvis Presley Boulevard in a few years,” Wharton said earlier this year. “You won’t recognize that campus.” Wharton also said Sillerman has groused about any doubts the SEC filings have created about his commitment to the Memphis development.

Johnny Ryall Mar 23, 2010 1:16 AM

Salvation Army at Memphis digs in to Kroc Center
Groundbreaking begins today for family facility
the Commercial Appeal | By Ryan Poe

The Salvation Army at Memphis starts work on its Kroc Center today, making the project one of a handful to survive the recent financial woes hurting nonprofit groups across the country. Memphis Mayor A C Wharton is expected to be among those attending the groundbreaking ceremony, which will begin at 10 a.m. in a tent set up near where the property borders the former Libertyland amusement park, said Major Mark Woodcock, area commander. The Salvation Army has contracted with Montgomery Martin Contractors LLC and is now waiting for the city to issue a building permit.

Funding for the center, the largest planned in the South, comes from the national Kroc Foundation, which gave the local group $62 million, half to build the center and half for an endowment to provide operating funds. The $25 million raised locally will bring that endowment to a total of $56 million. Woodcock said the Salvation Army chose the fairgrounds location because of its rich mixture of people from different races and economic backgrounds. "You couldn't pick a better location," he said. The family-oriented facility will have a gymnasium, indoor and outdoor water parks, a 300-seat theater, classrooms and laboratories, among other amenities. The 100,000-square-foot center will also bring job opportunities to people in the surrounding neighborhoods. The new building will be staffed by 40 full-time employees, and in the summer, by an additional 100 or so part-time employees.

When she died in 2003, Joan Kroc, widow of McDonald's founder Ray Kroc, left more than $1.5 billion to the Salvation Army to build 31 such community centers. The Salvation Army's national office has since trimmed the number of proposed centers to 25 and has required local groups to raise a part of the cost, usually about $25 million. Because of the recession, projects have faltered across the country. Three of the 10 centers planned for the Salvation Army's 15-state Southern territory have already been canned because local groups couldn't raise the matching funds, spokesman Steve Carpenter said. "In Memphis, it's just amazing the number of generous people who, despite the economy, continue giving money," he said. The Salvation Army's local branch quietly began raising money four years ago, tapping corporations and big donors for $18 million. In 2008, the organization began asking for help from smaller donors, who contributed the additional $7 million. "A lot of people came together to make this happen, from a lot of walks in life," Woodcock said. "It was quite a blessing for us."

Woodcock said that the Memphis Kroc Center was originally set to get $50 million from the Kroc Foundation. It has received an additional $12 million for construction and endowments after other projects in Missouri, North Carolina and South Carolina failed, loosening funds. Woodcock added that the local effort to raise money for the center has taken something of a toll on the group's overall budget. "We have put so much focus on the Kroc Center, and it has distracted us," he said. "Fundraising has suffered because of this." The Salvation Army in Memphis has a $300,000 shortfall to make up this year, partly because of the Kroc Center and partly because of the economy, Woodcock said. Even so, the Kroc Center will be worth it in the long run, he said. "Once we get beyond this, the impact we'll be having will be greater because of this," Woodcock said. "We're still serving the people we need to be serving."

Johnny Ryall Mar 23, 2010 1:17 AM

Pipe plant sign of Tunica growth
County brimming with pride after landing German company
the Commercial Appeal | By Ron Maxey

A German pipe manufacturer's decision to come to Tunica County is the latest feather in the cap of local leaders who say there's been a methodical effort to upgrade what was long thought of as one of the nation's poorest counties. Wilh. Schulz GMBH broke ground this month on a facility in northern Tunica County that is expected to create 500 manufacturing jobs within five years, 180 by the end of 2011.

The 450,000-square-foot rural site, with easy access to the Interstate 69 link to Interstate 55 in DeSoto County, competed with sites in such far-flung places as Shanghai; Rio de Janeiro; and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Local and state leaders noted the international competition at the plant's groundbreaking, and said it speaks to Tunica's improving image that the area beat out the other candidates. "This is a worldwide company, and 300 locations were competing for this project," noted Gov. Haley Barbour, who met with Schulz officials in Singapore to broker the deal.

But local officials say it's just the latest example in the ongoing effort to improve an area known largely for its casinos. "People here have never been afraid to dream," said Tunica County Administrator Clifton Johnson. "People 20 years ago dreamed of businesses on the levee, and we see that today. "There were people who dreamed of an interstate highway from I-55 to Tunica County to get people here in a better fashion, and we see that today." Lyn Arnold, president of the Tunica County Chamber of Commerce, added that she thinks it speaks highly of local officials' efforts that the area was able to bring home 500 jobs in the current economic climate. More than dreaming, however, it might have been the behind-the-scenes negotiations by local and state leaders, starting with Barbour's overseas lobbying, that landed the plant. Barbour pushed for, and got, $15 million in bond improvements from the state to get the project started. Legislators approved the bonds on the opening day of their legislative session in January. Local energy providers also played a key role, with Schulz president and CEO Rainer Floeth jokingly noting that the company "couldn't find enough windmills to produce the power needed" in its home country.

The process used to produce the specialized pipes that will be produced at the factory carries heavy energy requirements, and Floeth singled out Entergy Mississippi Inc. and area power providers for their support. Haley Fisackerly, president and CEO of Entergy Mississippi, was on the stage with state, local and company leaders for the groundbreaking. Company officials hope to complete construction in Tunica by the end of this year. In the meantime, work is under way to assemble the leadership team for the plant. When completed, salaries at the plant are expected to average about $32,000 a year, with production workers earning about $15 an hour.

Johnny Ryall Mar 23, 2010 1:18 AM

ABRA Expands to Collierville
ERIC SMITH | The Daily News Rendering courtesy of ABRA Auto Body & Glass

ABRA Auto Body & Glass will expand its Memphis-area footprint this year by building a $2 million facility at 430 E. Winchester Blvd. in Collierville. The Minneapolis-based company plans to build a 13,100-square-foot auto glass replacement and repair facility shop on roughly 1.3 acres along the north side of Winchester Boulevard east of its intersection with South Byhalia Road. ABRA last week completed a land deal that gave the company the property it needed to establish a seventh shop in the Mid-South. The company has six Memphis-area locations, including three in the city, one in Cordova, one in Bartlett and one in Horn Lake.

Tim Adelmann, the company’s executive vice president of business development, said a Collierville location made a lot of sense for ABRA. “We’ve looked to expand in the Memphis market and we believe the Collierville area is an ideal community for us,” he said. “Many of our business partners, which are insurance companies, have expressed a need in that area, so we’re happy to work with the city of Collierville and look forward to serving the community.”

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Johnny Ryall Mar 23, 2010 1:19 AM

Onyx Medical Files $3.5 Million Permit

Onyx Medical Corp. last week filed a $3.5 million permit with the city-county Office of Construction Code Enforcement to build a facility at 5121 N. Shelby Oaks Drive. Linkous Construction Co. Inc. filed the permit as general contractor for the building, which will serve as Onyx’s new headquarters.

The medical manufacturing company is moving operations from its current headquarters at 152 Collins St. in Midtown. Onyx earlier this month filed a $3.9 million construction loan through Trustmark National Bank. The loan was in conjunction with Onyx’s seven-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) agreement, approved last fall by the city-county Industrial Development Board, which is listed on the loan as a joinder. The PILOT will save the company a little less than $850,000 in taxes.

Onyx is planning to make a $6.5 million capital investment as part of developing a new manufacturing facility and corporate headquarters and will create at least 17 new jobs. The family-owned Onyx makes a “complete line of wires, guide pins, half pins, drills and screws utilizing the latest in process technology and medical-grade specialty materials,” according to its Web site.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports – Eric Smith

Johnny Ryall Mar 23, 2010 1:45 AM

Belz Architecture is awarded design contract for Oynx Medical Project
Monday, March 15, 2010

Belz Architecture has completed the Design Documents for a new facility to be constructed at Shelby Oaks Business Center in Memphis, Tennessee. The project, Onyx Medical Corporation, is a 53,000 square foot manufacturing facility and will be located in Shelby Oaks North Business Center on the lake across the street from Pfizer. Belz Architecture did Schematic Design and Design Development Drawings last year for Onyx and was released at the end of January 2010 for Construction Documents. Construction will start at the end of March and the building is scheduled to be complete by March 2011.

Onyx Medical was established in 1990. They specialize in making a complete line of wires, guide pins, half pins, drills and screws utilizing the latest in process technology and medical-grade specialty materials. Oynx is a ISO-certified and an FDA-registered facility servicing nearly all the world’s largest orthopedic companies. A family-owned and family-operated business since the beginning, Onyx motivates its employees to exceed expectations and possess a deep-seated respect for each job.

Providing innovative and cutting edge designs, Belz Architecture is a leader in commercial architecture with diverse experience in Healthcare, Retail, Industrial, and Office related projects. It is this diversity of project types that allows us to provide our clients full architectural services carried out by experts whose knowledge and talents best match our clients' business strategies and objectives. With this team-based approach, every project benefits from individual expertise while leveraging the collective knowledge of the entire firm.

Johnny Ryall Mar 26, 2010 2:00 AM

Council Approves More Fairgrounds Changes
Memphis Daily News – Bill Dries

Just days after groundbreaking for the Salvation Army Kroc Center at the Mid-South Fairgrounds, there will be more changes to the landscape coming soon. The Memphis City Council Tuesday approved the demolition of the Arena Building at the fairgrounds as well as $606,000 in city funding to do design work on a “great lawn” project for the fairgrounds. The city funding comes from money left over from an upgrade of locker rooms at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. Each of the two votes by the council was unanimous.

The Wharton administration came up with the new plan, which changes a general plan the council approved two weeks earlier. Under the revised plan, the Pipkin and Creative Arts buildings would not be demolished. The plan remains to create roughly 1,000 new parking spaces within the fairgrounds and have the area ready for the additional parking in time for the mid-September kickoff of the Southern Heritage Classic football game.

Johnny Ryall Mar 26, 2010 2:01 AM

Graceland-Area Improvements on Track
Memphis Daily News – Bill Dries

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. said his administration hopes to complete all of the paperwork necessary to begin some public improvements along Elvis Presley Boulevard in Whitehaven by July 1. The improvements would be the beginning of an ambitious remake of Graceland by CKX, the Robert Sillerman-run company that owns 85 percent of Elvis Presley Enterprises.

Sillerman intends to keep the Presley mansion as it is. But he also plans to move the plaza across the street to adjoining property on the same side of the boulevard as Graceland. The land where the plaza is now would be developed with hotels and other attractions. “We’re committed to have every piece of paper run and done on July 1. Bob Sillerman has committed to that,” Wharton said. “We’ll be coming to you. You’ll see some changes in the budget, particularly in the CIP (Capital Improvement Projects). … We’ve got to have everything wrapped up and ready to go.”

Johnny Ryall Mar 26, 2010 2:01 AM

AEL Files Permit for Century Center Facility
ERIC SMITH | The Daily News Rendering courtesy of Evans Taylor Foster Childress Architects

American Esoteric Laboratories has taken another step toward building a $14.3 million lab and headquarters for its Mid-South division. AEL, a regional provider of clinical laboratory services to physicians and hospitals, last week filed a $9.2 million permit to build a one-story, 70,000-square-foot facility at 1701 Century Center Parkway near the junction of Interstate 40 and Whitten Road. The company this week expects to close on a roughly 10-acre parcel of land from Boyle Investment Co., spending “plus or minus $2 million” on the property, said AEL president John Mazzei.

AEL, a division of Sonic Healthcare USA, has local roots that date back a half-century with the founding of Memphis Pathology Laboratory. That company was bought by AEL in 2007. The company now will begin a new chapter by consolidating its existing 33,000-square-foot building on Distribution Drive and 10,000-square-foot administrative office near Covington Pike, moving its entire Mid-South division into one space.

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AEL Buys Land At Century Center

American Esoteric Laboratories has formally bought the land where it will build a $14.3 million lab and headquarters for the company’s Mid-South division. AEL, a regional provider of clinical laboratory services to physicians and hospitals, paid slightly less than $2 million for 10 acres of land at 1701 Century Center Parkway near the junction of Interstate 40 and Whitten Road. The sale closed March 18. Whitten Partnership Ltd., an entity related to Boyle Investment Co., was the seller. Memphis Pathology Laboratory, the company’s former name, was listed along with AEL as the buyer.

AEL two weeks ago filed a $9.2 million permit to build a one-story, 70,000-square-foot facility. The goal is to begin the six-month construction project soon and be in the building by Nov. 1, company president John Mazzei told The Daily News for a recent article. AEL, a division of Sonic Healthcare USA, will consolidate its existing 33,000-square-foot building on Distribution Drive and 10,000-square-foot administrative office near Covington Pike, moving its entire Mid-South division into one space. Mazzei said the Century Center locale is ideal for many reasons including proximity to the interstate. The company currently is 15 or 20 minutes off the highway, which increases delivery time. Rusty Foster of Memphis-based Evans Taylor Foster Childress Architects is the architect of record for the project. Atlanta-based IDI, which has an office in Memphis, is the contractor. Jeb Fields of Commercial Advisors represented AEL in its site selection. For more about AEL’s plans, see the March 15 edition of The Daily News,

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports – Eric Smith

Johnny Ryall Mar 26, 2010 2:02 AM

World Overcomers Sells Mall to CDC

World Overcomers Outreach Ministries Church Inc. has transferred ownership of the former Hickory Ridge Mall at 6075 Winchester Road to the Hickory Hill Community Redevelopment Corp. for $1.4 million. In the warranty deed, the buyer is listed as Hickory Ridge Mall CD Corp. Though the sale closed in February, it wasn’t recorded by the Shelby County Register of Deeds until this week. The church, which bought the mall in 2008 after a storm damaged the building, has spent the last year and a half transforming the property into a community center, replete with a restaurant, banquet hall, theater and other services for the neighborhood.

World Overcomers bought the Hickory Ridge Mall property – excluding the Macy’s and Dillard’s department stores – in the fall of 2008 for $1.4 million. It paid $1 million for the 212,282-square-foot Macy’s in March 2009. World Overcomers is retaining its congregational home at the former Central Church at 6655 Winchester Road, down the road from the mall. The church bought that property in 2001 for $10 million.

The Hickory Ridge Mall opened in 1981 and thrived for more than two decades before steadily declining as newer malls opened in other parts of town and tenants departed. A Feb. 5, 2008, storm delivered a knockout blow to the mall. Although the city of Memphis considered buying it and turning it into a satellite office for city services, the renovation proved too costly.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports – Eric Smith

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