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Johnny Ryall Mar 26, 2010 2:03 AM

Plough Foundation awards UT Health Science Center $4.5 million
the Commercial Appeal | By Toby Sells

Construction is under way on the University of Tennessee Health Science Center's College of Pharmacy building at the UT-Baptist Research Park. The project has received $4.5 million from the Plough Foundation to build a new lab for producing and testing pharmaceuticals.
http://media.commercialappeal.com/me...acy2_t607.jpeg

While the first four floors of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center's College of Pharmacy building are expected to open Oct. 20, Dick Gourley has his sights set on the end of 2011. That's when UTHSC can expand its drug-making program after a $4.5 million grant from the Plough Foundation Wednesday established the Plough Center for Sterile Drug Delivery Systems. The center will give students access to real-world drug manufacturing processes and give smaller pharmaceutical companies a venue to make right-sized batches of their experimental drugs. Gourley, dean of the College of Pharmacy, said the center will be used to manufacture small batches of injectable drugs for companies testing them in early-stage clinical trials. This, he said, will help attract students and businesses to Memphis. "The center will be able to do a lot of work that most folks can't, like working with orphan drugs and small batches," Gourley said. "It's hard to find a facility like that in the U.S. right now, especially one with the experience of our faculty." Orphan drugs are developed to treat illnesses that affect only a small number of people. UTHSC has had such a program for roughly 40 years, Gourley said, and it generates about $1.5 million per year in grants and contracts. The new lab is expected to bring in $4 million to $5 million per year, he said. For generations, (the center) will have a significant measurable impact on education, research, health care for our citizens and service to the community," said Scott McCormick, executive director of the Plough Foundation. "It will also serve as a catalyst for entrepreneurial endeavors in the local pharmaceutical industry."

The 5,800 square-foot facility will be built on the sixth floor of the building now under construction at the UT-Baptist Research Park in the Medical District. The new $65 million pharmacy building will consolidate UTHSC's pharmacy faculty, staff and students who are now housed in six different buildings on campus. Gourley is now looking for roughly $9.6 million in funds to "finish the building from top to bottom." He said he hopes to turn the basement into a manufacturing facility for capsule drugs. University of Tennessee Health Science Center (2009) -Research funding: $88 million, Student enrollment: 2,851, Pharmacy students: 725

Johnny Ryall Mar 28, 2010 1:53 AM

Residential development Downtown hits $600 million since 2000
Memphis Business Journal - by Andy Ashby

Developers have invested $600 million in 97 residential projects in Downtown Memphis since 2000 and Downtown’s population has increased 12 percent in that time, according to the Center City Commission. Those and other statistics about the housing market Downtown were released today in the 2000-2010 Downtown Memphis Housing report at the CCC board’s meeting.

The population in the "Central Business Improvement District" was estimated at 23,000 in 2009, according to the report. That was up 4,000 people since 2000, or 21 percent, but the redevelopment of Uptown decreased lessened the density of low-income housing, offsetting the gains. The CBID is bounded by the Mississippi River and the Medical District to the west and east, respectively, and includes the South Main Historic Arts District to the south and Mud Island, Uptown and the Pinch District to the north. The Downtown core, which includes the Pinch District, Main Street and the Sports and Entertainment District, was the fastest growing part of the CBID with a 19 percent population increase since 2000.

Other highlights of the report include: • Households with incomes greater than $75,000 a year are the fastest-growing income demographic in the CBID. • The fastest-growing age demographic in the CBID is 55 to 64, which increased 66 percent from 2000 to 2009.
• The CCC estimates 80 percent of the Downtown population is single, although married couples showed a 19 percent increase from 2000 to 2009. • Downtown has 13,385 housing units, of which 57 percent are apartments, 18 percent single family homes, 16 percent condos and 10 percent public housing units. • Downtown currently has 2,100 condo units, most of which were developed from 2000 to 2009. The average appraised value for a condo in the 38103 ZIP code was $228,401.• There were 1,233 single-family homes built Downtown since 2000, with the average 38103 home appraisal being double the county average.• Downtown apartment properties averaged 90 percent occupancy during the past decade. • In 2009, the average household income in the CBID was $57,076.

Also, a Center City Commission committee continues to search for a president to replace the retiring Jeff Sanford. It should have its recommendations by April. Finally, the Center City Development Corp. approved a $21,793 facade grant for City Market to open at 66 S. Main; approved a $40,000 retail forgivable loan for Christine by Shelton Clothiers to open at 119 S. Main; and approved a $30,000 retail forgivable loan for Automatic Slims at 83 S. Second.

Johnny Ryall Mar 31, 2010 2:37 AM

NYK Logistics heads to Goodlett Farms35,000-square-foot office lease consolidates Memphis divisions
Memphis Business Journal - by Andy Ashby

NYK Logistics Americas, Inc., is consolidating office operations into the wide open spaces of one floor in the Northeast Memphis submarket. The supply chain management company has signed a lease for 35,000 square feet at 1900 Charles Bryan Road in Goodlett Farms. It now occupies the building’s entire second floor, where it recently started leasing 30,000 square feet for its service division’s back office functions. NYK Logistics Americas, a wholly owned subsidiary of NYK Group, will now have about 250 employees at Goodlett Farms.

The second lease accommodates employees who are moving from the Southwind office campus in Southeast Memphis. These employees are involved in tracking shipments and customers for NYK Logistics. Wyatt Aiken, senior vice president for Commercial Advisors LLC, represented NYK Logistics while Commercial Alliance Management LLC senior leasing associate Bentley Pembroke represented the landlord, JP Realty Partners Ltd. “They are contiguous on one full floor and there are some efficiencies which come with that,” Pembroke says. “To my knowledge there isn’t another 65,000-square-foot floor plate available in a multi-tenant building in the market.” There could be some cost savings as well. NYK’s former office space at Southwind Building D rents for $21 a square foot while the Goodlett Farms building rents for $18.50 per square foot.

Regions Bank formerly occupied the entire 368,967-square-foot Goodlett Farms Business Campus, which includes the 1900 Charles Bryan building and the 7130 Goodlett Farms Parkway building. Regions still leases 200,000 square feet in both buildings for check processing, a call center and administrative mortgage functions. The latest NYK lease brings the entire complex to 79% occupancy. JP Realty purchased the 52-acre property in July 2008 as part of a 13-property portfolio from Regions Bank for $32 million. Grinder Taber & Grinder, Inc., filed an $800,000 building permit for commercial alterations at 1900 Charles Bryan Road. In addition to work on the second floor, the general contractor is updating common areas. The ground floor lobby is being renovated to better accommodate multiple tenants. “One of our main focuses has been working on a repeat basis with companies, so working with Commercial Alliance and NYK Logistics again fits into our strategy,” says Brett Grinder, vice president of the general contracting firm.

Grinder, Taber & Grinder has been working on renovations at the University Club and at the Racquet Club of Memphis. It’s also involved in the Visible School’s planned renovation of the former C&I Bank building at 200 Madison into a Downtown music college. “There are private organizations out there still taking advantage of the lower material and labor costs we have right now,” Grinder says. “We’ve been lucky to have a stable group of clients who give us business and while we’re nowhere near 100% capacity, we’ve been stable enough to avoid major layoffs.”

Hunter Fan Co., State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. and Stratas Foods LLC also lease space at Goodlett Farms. Pembroke says executives like the business campus feel of the development, which has a lake, walking trails and a gated entrance. The property also has a backup generator, on-site food services and a fitness center. “Basically, you get abundant amenities at a great value,” he says. Once NYK Logistics’ lease at Southwind expires in November, there will be 32,000 square feet available spread across three floors, including a contiguous 20,000-square-foot space on the second floor. Highwoods Properties, Inc., which owns, manages and leases seven buildings in Southwind, is currently courting larger customers to fill the NYK Logistics space.

Johnny Ryall Mar 31, 2010 2:37 AM

Midtown Big-Box Site Not Dead – Yet
ANDY MEEK and ERIC SMITH | The Daily News

Friday’s foreclosure notice announcing a sale on the courthouse steps of dozens of Midtown properties where a long-awaited mixed-use project has been planned for years is not an automatic death knell for the development. The ambitious plans for the site, which at one time attracted the attention of Target as a big-box anchor, could still move forward if the stars align. That’s true for the subject of any first-run foreclosure notice, where a forced auction can sometimes be avoided if the debtor brings his loan obligations current. No one close to the Midtown Memphis project, however, is commenting on the record yet about how WSG Memphis LLC’s default of a $14 million loan through Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. will affect the deal.

Lehman Brothers in September 2008 filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, further complicating WSG’s tenuous financial situation. Lehman has filed foreclosure actions against WSG properties elsewhere, apparently a product of the bankrupt New York financial firm’s slow unwinding of its loan book. Commercial real estate brokers weren’t overly surprised to hear about the foreclosure because of the Lehman connection and because this has become a common fate for sites around the country due to difficult financing and an overall sluggish economy. “Development has come to a screeching halt unless it’s specifically tenant-driven,” said Danny Buring, principal at The Shopping Center Group. “They were trying to sell that as a mixed-used project, and I think mixed-used projects, unless there’s a specific tenant driving the deal, are the most cumbersome to get financed right now.” Some sources close to the situation spoke off the record about the deal, saying its potential dissolution is good news because WSG paid too much for the property and didn’t garner as much interest in the development as it initially thought.

Still, Buring and others said they believe a Target-anchored center in Midtown will succeed because of the market’s population density and lack of big-box offerings, but they aren’t sure that the Poplar-Cleveland locale is the best site. “There is enough demand and I think there’s probably enough desire from Target to eventually have a store in Midtown, but I don’t know where and – because of the economy – when,” Buring said. “They’ve cut their new store openings probably by 70 percent. “Everything’s getting pushed back three years in general. Until the financing comes back, there’s not going to be anything new built.” Big-box retail has had trouble getting built in Midtown because of opposition from various groups and a lack of available land, one of the best examples being the stalled Overton Square development.

Johnny Ryall Mar 31, 2010 2:38 AM

Company Pursuing $250M Graceland Revamp in Sale Talks
ANDY MEEK | The Daily News

The ownership of CKx Inc., the company that owns 85 percent of Elvis Presley Enterprises and which is pursuing a $250 million revamp of Graceland and the surrounding area, may be getting all shook up. The Wall Street Journal reported today CKx is in talks to be bought out by One Equity Partners, the private equity arm of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. CKx confirmed the sale discussions, but not the potential buyer, with a brief statement. “In response to market rumors, CKx Inc. confirmed today that it is engaged in discussions regarding a possible transaction involving a possible sale of the company,” the statement reads. “CKx cautioned that there can be no assurance that it will enter into any agreement with respect to a transaction, or as to the timing, price or terms thereof, or that the price or terms in any such transaction will be as speculated. “CKx … does not expect to make any additional statements or provide any further information regarding the status of any discussions or any possible transaction unless a definitive agreement is entered into or adopted.”

CKx owns popular television brands like “American Idol” and “So you think you can dance.” It’s unclear what effect a sale would have on CKx’s long-simmering plans to revamp the Graceland area. In early 2009, CKx took a $900,000 write-off on the preliminary design work for the effort. In CKx’s 2009 annual report released earlier this month, the company reaffirmed 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. Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. met with CKx chief executive Robert Sillerman earlier this year during a trip Wharton took to New York. “Bob authorized us to quote him as saying, ‘He’s not committed to doing Graceland – he’s going to do Graceland,’” Wharton said.

Johnny Ryall Mar 31, 2010 2:39 AM

Onyx manufactures fixed location
Move to Shelby Oaks positions business for growth
Memphis Business Journal - by Michael Sheffield

http://assets.bizjournals.com/story_...51-300-0-1.jpg Photo Credit : COURTESY BELZ ARCHITECTURE


Onyx Medical Corp. will soon begin construction on a $4.5 million, 53,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Shelby Oaks industrial park. Onyx, a manufacturer of screws, drill bits, pins and wires for the orthopedic device industry, received a seven-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes last fall from the Memphis and Shelby County Industrial Development Board as an incentive to expand. The abatement is expected to save the company an estimated $850,000 in taxes. The investment is the combined cost of land acquisition, construction and new equipment it will acquire for the new facility. The company’s current 30,000-square-foot facility is located on Collins, north of Poplar in the Binghampton area. The new facility in East Memphis will be built on a 4.5-acre site and have space for expansion of up to 75,000 square feet. Construction will begin on the project in the next few weeks. It is expected to be completed sometime in the first quarter of 2011.

Jodie Gilmore, vice president of strategic business development for Onyx, says the decision to build a new building came after researching cost estimates of retrofitting and moving into an existing building. Once construction is completed, Onyx is expected to add 17 people to its 70-person work force. The new employees will be a combination of machinists and skilled medical device professionals. Gilmore expects the increase in employees to help serve existing customers interested in consolidating more of their business with Onyx. The company supplies its products to device companies all over the U.S., as well as local companies such as Smith & Nephew PLC, Wright Medical Group, Inc., and Medtronic. Gilmore says the company is close to breaking the $10 million mark in revenue. “If we tell them we want to be a strategic partner,” she says, “we have to show we have the ability and capacity.” Onyx received financing for the project through Trustmark National Bank. The building is being designed by Belz Architecture and Construction and will be built by Linkous Construction Co., Inc.

Tim Garrett, director of architecture for Belz, says the design will allow the company to arrange its machinery more efficiently for manufacturing. Onyx has operated on Collins since it was acquired by Laraine and Roger Gilmore in 1990. Patrick Gilmore, vice president of manufacturing and engineering for Onyx, says the company will also upgrade its technology, from the electro-polishing equipment it uses to its clean room areas. “We’re adding more power and a cleaner looking manufacturing environment,” Patrick Gilmore says. “We want the new building to represent Onyx without taking the budget over the top.”

Dick Tarr, president and executive director of InMotion Orthopaedic Research Center, says companies like Onyx help provide a manufacturing partner for the device companies in the city. “Memphis is really beginning to build a critical mass of orthopedic companies,” Tarr says. “Onyx is a big part of that on the production side.” The company is moving forward cautiously, says president Laraine Gilmore. The orthopedic industry has remained relatively stable, but Onyx wants to be prepared for any opportunities for growth. “There was hesitation, but there was a need for it,” she says. “In order to grow, we had to move in this direction and take this chance. It’ll be best for our employees and the company.”

Johnny Ryall Apr 5, 2010 1:50 AM

Performa throwing party to celebrate Beale Street rejuvenation efforts
the Commercial Appeal | By Wayne Risher

Beale Street will throw a party in three weeks to welcome new and relocated tenants. The entertainment district also will launch a speaker's series beginning Wednesday at a new eatery, Lil Anthony's Cafe. The events come as Beale Street's management firm, Performa Entertainment Real Estate, attempts to rejuvenate the easternmost block of the district between Handy Park and Fourth Street.

Performa announced target reopening dates of Ground Zero Blues Club April 21 at 310 Beale and Red Rooster April 14 at 340 Beale. Both are moving off a side street, Lt. Lee. Lil Anthony's, 341 Beale, will host the first speaker, librarian and author Wayne Dowdy, during a noontime Dutch treat luncheon. Dowdy will discuss his new book "Hidden History of Memphis." At noon April 14 musician Sid Selvidge will talk about how he got into blues music. The April 22 party, which starts at 6 p.m., includes historian Jimmy Ogle making a presentation on the Brass Note Walk of Fame and Elaine Turner of Heritage Tours providing information about the Handy House. The Big Jerry Blues Band will play.

Wristbands will be sold for $5, providing admission to clubs and access to food and beverage specials. Proceeds will be split among nonprofit groups Mpact Memphis, Volunteer Mid-South and KnowledgeQuest. "It will be a street party celebrating a milestone accomplishment for Beale Street," said Performa chairman and CEO John Elkington. "The evening will be a celebration of entrepreneurism, music, culture and civic pride, just like our original intent when we set out to redevelop Beale Street."

Work has been under way since early March on converting the shuttered Pat O'Brien's into the new home of Ground Zero and the former Double Deuce club into the Red Rooster. Beale Street crews also improved access to the W.C. Handy House at Beale and Fourth by trimming overgrown shrubs and installing a new gate and sidewalk leading from Beale to the historic residence.

Johnny Ryall Apr 5, 2010 1:51 AM

Curb appeal: Landscaping gussies up Memphis airport ahead of 2011 conference
the Commercial Appeal | By Wayne Risher

http://media.commercialappeal.com/me...port_t607.jpeg Photo by Dave Darnell

The city launched a beautification project Tuesday to spruce up Memphis International Airport's front doorstep. The first phase includes planting 268 trees and 580 day lilies and installing irrigation along Winchester near Cargo Road, just outside the airport's main entrance. Future phases call for hundreds of trees along Plough Boulevard from Winchester to Interstate 240 and upgrading the M-shaped raised planter that welcomes airport visitors to Memphis.

A Greater Memphis Chamber Aerotropolis committee and the Memphis Airport Area Development Corp. steered the project and handed it off to city government, which appropriated $1.6 million for all three phases. Omega General Contractors Inc., are planting bald cypress, October Glory red maples and seedless honey locusts along Winchester, said landscape architect Ritchie Smith, whose firm designed the project. A handful of yoshino cherry trees will be planted to complement an existing stand of the trees. The phase 1 contract is about $100,000. Smith said trees were carefully selected because of aviation safety issues associated with migratory birds. Airport Authority officials and federal wildlife biologists wanted trees that wouldn't attract flocks of birds. A design hasn't been decided for the successor to the big M planter. Smith said it's possible to create a more inviting welcome feature using softer, more natural materials.

Airport boosters hope the improvements will be done in time for the Airport Cities World Conference in Memphis next April. "We're very pleased the city saw fit to embark on this beautification project on Plough Boulevard," said Airport Authority board chairman Arnold Perl. "In the past it was something of an eyesore." Authority president and CEO Larry Cox said airport workers will remove a row of Bradford pear trees that runs along the edge of the airfield and Signature Flight north of Winchester. The trees have overgrown a fence and power lines and provide an ill-placed roosting site for birds, Cox said. The authority will hire the city's contractor to plant new trees. In conjunction with the beautification, the airport will install electronic signs on entrance and exit roads and signs marking airfield boundaries.

Johnny Ryall Apr 5, 2010 1:51 AM

Work to begin on pedestrian/cycling bridge over Wolf River
the Commercial Appeal | By Tom Charlier

http://media.commercialappeal.com/me...bridg_t607.jpg Rendering courtesy of field operations.

Peaceful and scenic though it may be, the Wolf River poses a major barrier to recreational opportunities in Memphis. But not for much longer. In its third ground-breaking in two months, the group operating Shelby Farms Park began work Wednesday on a 200-foot-long pedestrian and cycling bridge over the river that will connect trail systems in the park with the city's planned Wolf River Greenway. Located about a mile upstream from the Walnut Grove Road bridge, near where Shady Grove Road meets Humphreys Boulevard, the steel-truss span will form part of a link that eventually will connect the Shelby Farms Greenline, a rails-to-trails project now under construction between Shelby Farms and Midtown, with the Greenway. Completion is set for this fall.

"This bridge really is a bridge to the future for Shelby Farms Park," said Barbara Hyde, president of the Hyde Family Foundations, which is funding many of the park improvements, and chairwoman of the committee overseeing the park's master plan. The bridge, costing $1.85 million, is part of $75 million of privately funded improvements either under construction or being developed at the 4,500-acre park between East Memphis and Cordova. Other projects include an innovative playground, the enlargement of Patriot Lake and the planting of 1 million trees. Former AutoZone president Peter Formanek, a "major funder" for the bridge project, said Shelby Farms symbolizes "one area where Shelby County can really be the leader" nationally.

The bridge design features a custom wooden "liner" that provides a 12-foot-wide deck and shapes the views that walkers, cyclists and others will get as they cross the Wolf. Toward the north, or park side of the bridge, the plank siding of the deck gradually falls away to convey greater views and a sensation of crossing the river. "The design is actually a strategic and a poetic one," said Richard Kennedy, senior associate with field operations, the New York landscape architecture and urban design firm that prepared the Shelby Farms master plan and is designing the projects. "It's really about dramatizing that experience of entering into the park." The bridge will connect not only with paved trails but the primitive trails through the forest in the Lucius E. Burch Jr. State Natural Area. The bridge truss is being assembled off-site. The construction will not result in a net loss of any primitive trails, said Laura Adams, deputy director of the Shelby Farms Park Conservancy, which operates the park under an agreement with the county.

Johnny Ryall Apr 5, 2010 1:52 AM

Mississippi governor says Senatobia to get solar panel manufacturing facility, 500 jobs
the Commercial Appeal | By Staff

SENATOBIA, Miss. -- For the second time in three weeks, northwest Mississippi reeled in a 500-job, high-tech manufacturing facility with the announcement Friday that a solar technology company will build a plant in Senatobia. Gov. Haley Barbour and Rep. Travis Childers, D-Miss., backed by Senatobia and Tate County officials, announced at Northwest Mississippi Community College that Twin Creeks Technologies, a Silicon Valley-based operation with manufacturing sites in Boston and San Jose, Calif., had chosen Senatobia from among 25 sites to build solar panels.

Senatobia, about 30 miles south of Memphis, joins another site in the region jumping aboard the solar technology bandwagon. Tennessee officials have approved buying 200 acres in Haywood County, about 40 miles northeast of Memphis, where they plan to erect a "solar farm" with an array of solar panels. Memphis already is home to one of the nation's largest solar manufacturers in the Sharp Electronics Corp. plant on Mendenhall. The facility produces enough solar panels to generate 140 megawatts of power and in the past year increased its workforce from 300 to 480.

The Senatobia plans call for a 250,000-square-foot, $175 million production facility that will employ 512 workers in two phases over the next five years. That's good news in Tate County, where the most recent unemployment rate was 13.1 percent in February. The facility will be located in Senatobia's industrial park, and most of the jobs created should go to area workers, Mayor Alan Callicott said.

Barbour, who was in Tunica County on March 10 to announce that German pipe manufacturer Wilh. Schulz GMBH would open a 500-job plant there, sounded a similar tone Friday in trumpeting the area's growing reputation as an international competitor for high-tech jobs. "After looking at more than 25 sites, including sites in Asia, they've decided the best place in the world to manufacture solar panels is Senatobia, Miss.," Barbour said. "This facility will be the first renewable solar technology production plant in the state."

University of Mississippi Chancellor Dan Jones touted the Center for Excellence in Manufacturing on his school's nearby Oxford campus and the symbiotic relationship he hopes will develop between that program and Twin Creeks as the state moves away from furniture manufacturing jobs to high-tech, high-paying endeavors. This project will help improve energy consumption down the road for those of us in this country ... and your coming will help move this state forward," Jones said.

A timetable wasn't outlined, but Twin Creeks CEO Siva Sivaram said he hopes to break ground "rapidly" on a plant that was given a boost by loan assistance totaling $50 million through the Mississippi Major Economic Impact Authority. The state and the city of Senatobia also will provide $4 million for infrastructure improvements at the plant site.

The company, which was founded in 2008 and holds a portfolio of more than 50 patents, uses what it says is a unique manufacturing process to produce photovoltaic solar panels that it hopes will become a growing alternative energy source. By the numbers; 512: Projected number of employees at the new solar plant. $175 million: Cost of the new plant. 250,000: Size of the facility in square feet. 50: Number of patents held by Twin Creeks Technologies

Johnny Ryall Apr 9, 2010 3:00 PM

Downtown Anticipates Residential Uptick
ANDY MEEK | The Daily News

For Downtowner Josh Thomas, it’s about the simple things. Like how, at the end of a long day at the office, he can unwind with a cigar and watch the sun set over the Mississippi River from the roof of his condo building. “That’s so cool, and you can only do it Downtown,” said Thomas, the campaign manager for Shelby County Dist. Atty. Gen. Bill Gibbons’ just-ended gubernatorial campaign. Thomas moved Downtown from East Memphis about a year ago. It’s a relocation Downtown backers expect to see repeated a few thousand times in the next five years, as more people flock to the bedrock of the city’s political, legal and entertainment sectors.

By 2014, more than 2,000 people are expected to make the same move Thomas did when he traded the familiarity of his old neighborhood farther east for the hip, happening vibe he saw Downtown. “As a young guy, I like the variety of things to do,” Thomas said. “Walk to a local pub, upscale dining, catch a baseball game or the art tour on South Main.” An additional 2,000 people means Downtown’s estimated 2009 population of 22,578 would grow to almost 25,000 in five years. That’s a 10 percent bump. The projection comes from a comprehensive housing demographics study prepared by the staff of the Center City Commission over the past 12 months.

The recent opening of the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law on Front Street is responsible for bringing 460 college students Downtown. The Memphis College of Art’s relocation of its graduate program Downtown will bring about 100 students to the area next year. And later this year, the opening of the Visible School, a music and worship arts college, will add another 120 students to the mix. A little to the east, development of the University of Tennessee-Baptist Research Park is still under way. Once that bioscience technology campus is finished, it’s expected to generate about 9,000 jobs.

Those students and new workers will bring with them money to spend and housing needs, both of which are extra boons for Downtown’s residential market and business community. And both of those, because of the people bulge, are also growing. More than 138 apartment units now under construction will become available for lease in the next five years.

Downtown has 2,100 condo units, most of which were developed between 2000 and 2009. There are 20 active condo developments with new units for sale. Fresh business activity Downtown runs the gamut from the medical research hub between Union and Madison avenues to new and expanding restaurants and retail outlets.

A new law office opened this week on the fourth floor of the recently refurbished Lincoln American Tower. Four lawyers – T. Clifton Harviel, Barry McWhirter, Arthur Quinn and Michael Stengel – left their respective practices to open the new office Downtown, where they’ll practice individually, but share space and support staff.

The long-underused spaces circling the intersection of Main Street and Union are starting to come alive. An upscale grocery store is opening at that corner as early as next month. The owners of the new store, City Market Groceries & Deli, announced to their nearly 200 Facebook followers they’ll display a “Coming Soon” sign on their space soon.

The CCC report finds another reason to suggest Downtown businesses and service providers may be sitting pretty because of the population growth. The report forecasts the number of Downtown households with six-figure incomes will make a big jump in the next few years. The number of households with incomes between $100,000 and $149,999 is expected to grow about 37 percent – from 738 in 2009 to 1,013 in 2014. At the top of the income scale, households with incomes of more than $150,000 will grow almost 40 percent in the next five years, from 829 to almost 1,200. “Although retail and residential services have increased significantly over the past decade, Downtown residents continue to be underserved from a retail standpoint,” the report notes.

Johnny Ryall Apr 9, 2010 3:01 PM

New & Improved
Hickory Ridge reopens with shops, community center
REBEKAH HEARN | The Daily News

http://memphisdailynews.com/Editoria...4&maxWidth=590 Photo: Lance Murphey

Just more than two years after being ravaged by a tornado, Hickory Ridge Mall will reopen this weekend under new ownership and having undergone millions in renovations. The mall now will be a community center featuring retail components and eventually will include a medical center. The owner, World Overcomers Outreach Ministries Church Inc., and the Hickory Hill Community Redevelopment Corp. will hold ribbon-cutting festivities to celebrate the reopening of the mall in an area affected by blight, crime and displacement.

The Martin Luther King-Hickory Hill Community Parade Saturday at 11 a.m. will kick off this weekend’s grand opening. The parade’s grand marshal is Elder Bernice King, the youngest daughter of Martin Luther King Jr. Following the parade, a series of contests, prizes, music, face painting, giveaways and amusement rides will begin. After that the official ribbon-cutting will take place, at which point the new Hickory Ridge Mall vendors will be introduced to the public. The Memphis Teen Icon Contest, to be hosted by “American Idol” contestant and Memphian Lil Rounds, will begin.

The tornado of Feb. 5, 2008, destroyed a wall of the Sears store on the west side of the mall. In October 2008, the former owner, Carlyle Rock Ridge LLC, sold the mall to World Overcomers for $1.4 million. The first phase of renovations, which cost approximately $5 million, have been completed. The church, which is just down the street at 6655 Winchester Road, and the HHCRC are trying to revitalize the area by reopening about 40 stores in the mall and offering people a family-friendly community center. “We are honored to be able to give back to the community and the Hickory Ridge Mall as a restored entity,” said Jimmie Haley, the economic development director for the mall. Haley said the next two or three phases of the project will include the new Incredible Pizza Co., which is scheduled to begin after this weekend and slated to be completed by fall of this year.

http://memphisdailynews.com/Editoria...5&maxWidth=590 Photo: Lance Murphey

“We’re going to pick up starting next week with that part, negotiations and touching base with different entities that can be in the community services (wing),” Haley said. The community services wing, as well as a medical mall wing, comprise phases two and three, as they both will begin in 2010 but the work will carry over into 2011. Haley said the Shelby County Clerk’s Office will reopen in the mall as part of the community services wing.

Thirty-two retail spaces are occupied, according to the Hickory Ridge Mall’s Web site, www.hickoryridge.com, and eight food court vendors, two training and education centers, a carousel and movie theaters are part of this first phase. “We have some other businesses that we’re still talking with right now; we’re going to have a baby thrift store, and our plans are to put a daycare center in the community services wing,” Haley said. “That’s a part of our infant mortality plan. We want to be very much in the middle of that and make sure we have a footprint here that works for the public.”

The medical mall wing will include 18 health services offices to occupy about 70,000 square feet. Phase three also will include a 72,000-square-foot banquet and conference center, reception and meeting rooms and classrooms, according to the mall plan information on the Web site. Phase four will include a 110,000-square-foot youth, enrichment and entertainment center, including a roller skating rink, recording studios and a computer lab. The fifth phase includes building a senior independent living facility, slated for completion in 2014. The total renovation has a projected cost of $52.5 million.

Johnny Ryall Apr 13, 2010 2:08 AM

Saint Francis to Renovate Thompson Tower Floor

Saint Francis Hospital-Memphis at 5959 Park Ave. has filed an $850,000 building permit with the city-county Office of Construction Code Enforcement to renovate the fourth floor of its Thompson Tower.

The hospital’s 42-acre campus sits along the south side of Park Avenue near Ridgeway Road. It is home to the hospital, two medical office buildings, the University of Tennessee/Saint Francis Family Practice Residency Building and a four-story parking facility.

Thompson Tower is one of the hospital’s two towers, a six-floor structure for patients. The fourth floor’s rooms will be converted to suites for Saint Francis’ joint and spine center, said hospital spokesperson Marilynn Robinson. Imagine 21 Inc. of Memphis is the project’s general contractor. Founded in 1974, Saint Francis now has 519 beds in private rooms along with tertiary and acute care services, outpatient services and wellness programs.

The hospital is owned by Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare Corp., which also operates Saint Francis Hospital-Bartlett. That facility is undergoing a $45.4 million expansion that will add 96 hospital beds to its existing 100 beds.

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

Johnny Ryall Apr 13, 2010 2:09 AM

Downtown Corner Ripe for Business
ANDY MEEK | The Daily News

For at least a year, empty storefronts ripe for redevelopment have greeted passersby at a key Downtown intersection. Developers are now reshaping that high-profile juncture of Main Street and Union Avenue, where all four corners have defiantly sat vacant at least a year as revitalization unfolds around them. Development entities within the past two months have staked a claim on a few of the underused buildings at the intersection. They’re separately planning a pair of commercial projects: one a grocery store and the other a retail and office development in the former Smooth Moves building. The grocery’s owners originally had talked about opening next month at 66 S. Main St., but they’re still hammering away at construction details. Meanwhile, they’re steadily building interest in what they say will be an upscale boutique store with the convenience of a major grocery.

Today, the Center City Commission’s Design Review Board will look over plans for the second project. It will be a $1.66 million retail and office development at 75 S. Main St. The DRB, which meets at 5 p.m. at the CCC office at 114 N. Main St., will vote on design plans that call for renovating the existing three-story, 17,000-square-foot building for mixed commercial use. The basement level and second and third floors will be fitted for office use. Retail is going in on the ground floor.

The start of construction for both projects may be only a few months away. Construction is tentatively scheduled to begin in May on the building that once housed Smooth Moves and should wrap up by October. Union Avenue Holdings LLC plans to apply for a development loan for the project from the Center City Development Corp., which meets later this month. The Memphis Landmarks Commission will review the project later this month as well. Together, the plans give Downtown development officials reason to rejoice. The projects stand to make two of the four corners at Main and Union – where the Main Street trolley rumbles through each day – bustle again with activity. “The intersection has always been and is the heart of Downtown,” said Adam Slovis, one of the co-developers of the Radio Center Flats apartment development at 66 S. Main. The new grocery, City Market Groceries & Deli, is going in the ground floor of Radio Center Flats. “There’s no better intersection in Downtown Memphis,” Slovis said. “With Radio Center hopefully getting the commercial space finished, Smooth Moves getting done will be the next step toward really revitalizing that major intersection for people who live, work and visit Memphis.” The grocery’s owners unveiled their plan in February to launch an upscale grocery in a little more than 2,800 square feet of space in May after signing a 10-year lease.

An opening date is still a few months away. But interest among Downtowners is building for the store, whose owners will offer freshly prepared food with a local and international flair alongside the usual grocery staples such as milk and eggs. City Market’s Facebook page attracted its 200th fan this week. Comments left by fans of the page show general anticipation for the store, which will offer the look and feel of an Old World market and will feature exposed bricks, ceiling beams and concrete floors.

The CCDC has already approved more than $60,000 in development incentives for City Market. In February, the board approved a $40,000 retail forgivable loan for the grocery. The board followed that in March by approving a nearly $22,000 façade grant to facilitate exterior improvements such as signs and lighting. In a presentation to CCC officials, City Market’s owners said their store will have an outdoor patio and limited menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner featuring items prepared each morning.

Johnny Ryall Apr 13, 2010 2:10 AM

Memphis Theological Seminary to invest $4.2M in campus expansion
Memphis Business Journal

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Memphis Theological Seminary unveiled the beginning of a multi-phase expansion and beautification plan at a press conference Thursday. The $4.2 million first phase of the capital campaign has three major components: developing the west portion of the campus with landscape beautification; restoring the fountain on the front portico of the building and improving irrigation and lighting; and constructing a new chapel building.

Ruby Wharton, a Memphis Theological Seminary trustee, said the construction of a free-standing chapel will be on Union Avenue, with groundbreaking projected for late 2011. “In keeping with the limestone and marble facade of this historic building (Founders Hall), the new chapel and any future buildings will have the same look,” Wharton said. “In addition, the expanded campus will be designed using good urban planning guidelines that mirror the desires of our Midtown neighbors.” Ralph and Barbara Hamilton donated the lead gift of $1 million. The donation is intended to support the building of the chapel.

Memphis Theological Seminary president Jay Earheart-Brown said that despite encouragement to relocate the seminary throughout the years, it remains committed to deepening and expanding its roots in Midtown Memphis. It is located at 2385 Union Avenue. “It is because of the commitment to the people of Memphis and the entire Mid-South region that leads us to launch Phase I of a multi-year campus expansion and beautification plan,” he said. Earheart-Brown pointed out several benefits of the campus expansion despite this time of economic uncertainty.

As the campus expands through the construction of new buildings and increased enrollment, Memphis will benefit from jobs created for the landscaping and construction projects, an increase in housing needs and money spent at local stores and restaurants by a larger student body. Memphis Theological Seminary has a total enrollment of 405 students.

Johnny Ryall Apr 13, 2010 2:11 AM

Center City Commission could expand streetscape improvement funds
Memphis Business Journal - by Andy Ashby

Downtown’s infrastructure could benefit from expanded funding mechanisms used by the Center City Commission. The state legislature recently passed a law which would broaden the Center City Commission’s use of funds for infrastructure Downtown. The new ruling would widen the definition of infrastructure to include streetscape improvements. Center City Commission’s financing of infrastructure has been limited to building parking structures, such as the garage at 250 Peabody Place.

The Center City Commission is hoping it can leverage that new money against public Capital Improvement Project dollars to fund immediate priorities, according to Andy Kitsinger, senior vice president at the commission. There are $43.5 million of immediate priorities across Downtown, according to a report issued in November. There will be a public meeting Thursday to talk about some of those potential improvements. The commission is inviting South Main neighbors to the meeting at 5:30 p.m. at Central Station.

Ritchie Smith Associates, the project consultant, and Tetra Tech developed construction documents for streetscape improvements along South Main from Linden Avenue to St. Paul. They will show some preliminary designs and get feedback from area residents. The Center City Development Corp. funded the architectural and engineering fees to create the documents and will now seek funding for the construction. This is part of the larger streetscape master plan the commission is implementing. It is submitting these projects for the city’s Capital Improvement Projects budget.

Johnny Ryall Apr 13, 2010 2:11 AM

NuVasive expanding Memphis operations
Spinal surgery kits provider seeing 35% revenue growth
Memphis Business Journal - by Michael Sheffield

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San Diego-based NuVasive, Inc., is investing $1.6 million to double the size of its 40,000-square-foot Memphis distribution facility. NuVasive, which owns its 100,000-square-foot building on Shelby Drive, was using 40,000 square feet for its operations while subleasing 20,000 square feet. The company’s growth, says Keith Valentine, president and COO of NuVasive, led to the decision to build out the remaining 40,000 square feet. NuVasive is approaching $500 million in revenue in 2010, after recording $370 million in 2009, Valentine says. That growth is largely attributable to Memphis. “Memphis gives us an advantage because of FedEx,” he says. “That gives us greater access across the country.”

Johnny Ryall Apr 13, 2010 2:12 AM

CCC narrows president search list to 20
Memphis Business Journal - by Andy Ashby Staff writer

The Center City Commission has narrowed its search for a new president to about 20 candidates after a committee meeting today. Search firm HRS Inc. issued a report with 77 individuals and graded them as A, B or C candidates after a preliminary review of their credentials. The search committee asked HRS to begin interviewing and testing the 18 “A” candidates immediately and two of 38 “B” candidates. All "B" candidates eventually will be interviewed. The 18 “A” candidates were (alphabetically):

• Scott D. Adams, chief urban redevelopment officer for the city of Las Vegas

• Thomas C. Chatmon Jr., executive director of the Orlando Downtown Development Board

• James H. Edwards, redevelopment director of the Florist Community Redevelopment Agency

• James N. Graham, former economic development manager with the Reno Redevelopment Agency

• Mason Kauffman, founder and CEO of the World Logistics Organization

• Andy Kitsinger, director of planning and development for the Center City Commission

• Paul L. Krutko Jr., chief development officer for the city of San Jose, Calif.

• John Lawrence, economic and community development consultant in Memphis and former director of planning for the Center City Commission

• Myron Lowery, Memphis City Councilman

• Rick Masson, executive director of the Shelby Farms Park Conservancy

• Brett McNeal, manager of diversity and staffing for the University of Memphis Physicians

• Paul Morris, shareholder at Martin, Tate, Morrow & Marston PC

• Eric Robertson, chief administrative officer at the Center City Commission

• Frank W. Robinson, town manager of Apple Valley, Calif.

• Jerome E. Rubin, vice president of operations for the Center City Commission and former Memphis City Councilman

• Susan Shannon, former director of economic development for the city of Seattle

• James A. Slaughter, president of Beacon, N.Y.-based The Slaughter Group

Johnny Ryall Apr 13, 2010 2:13 AM

Carlisle Corp. files PILOT for Downtown office building
Memphis Business Journal - by Andy Ashby

Carlisle Corp. could be building itself a Class A environmentally-friendly office building Downtown. Carlisle Hotels Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Carlisle Corp., is applying for a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes abatement from the Center City Revenue Finance Corp., which will hear the request April 14. Carlisle plans to develop and occupy a 16,000-square-foot office space at 263 Wagner Place. The company will try to get a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design designation for the building. Carlisle currently employs 35 people and leases space in Peabody Place. The company’s lease expires in July and it has considered a move to Olive Branch as well as this new office building, according to CCRFC documents. Gene Carlisle, founder, chairman and CEO of Carlisle Corp., owns a hanger at Olive Branch Airport. He also owns land next to it which could be used for an office building.

The total development cost will be $2.7 million, which includes $933,300 in property acquisition, $1.68 million in construction costs and $100,000 in architecture, financing and legal fees. Construction is scheduled to begin in May and be done by August. The design plans will be presented to the Center City Commission’s Design Review Board on May 5. The Center City Commission staff determined the project is eligible for a 7-year PILOT. If Carlisle submits exterior lighting plans which meet the requirement of the CCC’s Light It Up program, the project might be eligible for an additional year of tax abatement. Carlisle acquired the property, which included Joe’s Crab Shack and two other parcels, for $2.75 million in 2004, according to Shelby County Property Assessor’s records.

Since this cost would make the office project ineligible for the PILOT program, the company is asking the CCRFC to use the current appraised value of the property, $933,300, since the initial purchase included an operating restaurant that was subsequently destroyed by fire. To be eligible for a PILOT, the value of a project's renovations, improvements or new construction must be equal to or greater than 60 percent of the total project's costs, including property acquisitions. Chad Stewart & Associates is handling the project’s engineering while Looney Ricks Kiss is designing it. Another Carlisle subsidiary, Wendelta Inc., operates more than 97 Wendy’s restaurants in four states.

Johnny Ryall Apr 13, 2010 2:13 AM

Highwoods in talks to buy Crescent Center
Premier office space in coveted Poplar corridor
Memphis Business Journal - by Andy Ashby

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Real estate investment trust Highwoods Properties, Inc., is in negotiations to buy the Crescent Center office building from Behringer Harvard, according to numerous real estate sources. The 336,396-square-foot building on 10.1 acres at Poplar and Ridgeway is considered one of the premier office spaces in Memphis. The building and land were appraised for $58.5 million in 2009, according to the Shelby County Assessor of Property documents. Highwoods currently owns, manages and operates 2.2 million square feet of space in Memphis, of which 1.4 million square feet is along the Poplar corridor. When completed, the sale would put a majority of the Class A office properties in the coveted East Memphis submarket into the hands of three companies: Highwoods, Boyle Investment Co. and Parkway Properties, Inc. Parkway owns 533,000 square feet of Class A space in East Memphis. Boyle owns, manages and leases 1.5 million square feet of Class A and B space in the East Memphis submarket. The company has 2 million square feet of total office space in Memphis. Officials with Highwoods declined to comment for this story.

By removing a landlord of Class A multi-tenant space from East Memphis, the remaining property owners get more control of the submarket. “It reduces tenants’ ability to leverage owners against each other to get the best deal,” says Ron Riley, executive vice president with In-Rel Management, Inc. In-Rel owns, manages and leases Clark Tower, Poplar Towers and Lynnfield Office Park, which is 1 million square feet of Class B space in East Memphis. Riley expects Highwoods to be successful with the Crescent Center. “There’s no question they’re a top-notch operator and that it’s one of the best properties in town,” he says.

Everclear Acquisition Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of Behringer Harvard REIT I, Inc., acquired Crescent Center in December 2007 as part of its acquisition of IPC US REIT for $1.4 billion. Behringer Harvard currently owns the office property at 6075 Poplar through IPC Crescent Center LLC. IPC US REIT bought Crescent Center from Cooper Realty Investments and the Arkansas Teacher Retirement System for $63 million in October 2005. Since Weston Cos. developed Crescent Center in 1986, the property has also been owned by Travelers Insurance Group and Archon Group, the company that sold it to Cooper Realty Investments. Mark Halperin, executive vice president with Boyle, says the Crescent Center sale won’t have a significant initial impact on the submarket because Highwoods will take care of the property and have qualified people leasing it, similar to Behringer Harvard’s ownership. CB Richard Ellis Memphis has handled leasing at the property since 2005. However, he does say the sale will continue to concentrate East Memphis Class A office space into a few hands. “How that will impact the marketplace, I’m not sure,” Halperin says. Highwoods’ basic strategy, like Boyle’s, has been to manage and lease the buildings it owns. “I think there is an advantage for the tenants to be dealing with the same entity from the initial process through occupancy,” Halperin says. “Leasing office space is kind of like being married and I don’t think people emphasize enough who owns the building and who runs it.” Halperin says the East Memphis submarket has seen minor office leasing activity recently, but there could be more.

Boyle recently brought its newest property, the 155,000-square-foot 999 S. Shady Grove building, to 75% occupancy. Meanwhile, across the street from Crescent Center, Highwoods recently opened Triad Centre III, a 155,000-square-foot property that is the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design speculative office building in Memphis.

Highwoods Properties, Inc.
Office management, leasing and development
HQ: Raleigh, N.C.
NYSE: HIW
President: Edward J. Fritsch
Employees: 407
2009 revenue: $454 million
Local Address: 6410 Poplar, Suite 140
Local Phone: (901) 683-2444
Web site: www.highwoods.com

Crescent Center
Class A office building
Address: 6075 Poplar
Developed by: Weston Cos.
Total square footage: 336,396
Available square footage: 44,196
Stories: Nine, plus basement
Asking lease rates: $29/sq.ft.

Johnny Ryall Apr 13, 2010 9:47 PM

Methodist, University of Tennessee to develop Memphis sickle cell center
Memphis Business Journal

A coalition of city, community and health care leaders have announced a $5 million effort to start a center for the treatment of adult sickle cell. The Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center of Memphis is a joint program between Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. More participants are planned, according to a news release. The new center and the fundraising effort were announced during a 10 a.m. event at City Hall Tuesday. The fundraising committee is being chaired by Jim McGehee, chairman, of McGehee Realty and Development Co., and Gayle Rose, owner and CEO of Electronic Vaulting Service Corp. and chairman of the Rose Family Foundation. McGehee donated $250,000 to start the fundraising effort.

The unit, which will be located at Methodist University Hospital, will consist of 24-hour acute care, an infusion unit and outpatient care that will provide patient education, genetic counseling, social work services and psychosocial support for adults. Methodist will incorporate the outpatient clinic into the existing Methodist University Hospital Teaching Practice in the Medical Arts Building. The 40-bed inpatient unit will be located in the Crews Wing. No programs are being eliminated to create space for the program, said Methodist spokesman Ruth Ann Hale. “Filling this gap is essential,” said Mark Yancy, coordinator of major gifts at the Methodist Healthcare Foundation. “The approximately 1,500 sickle cell patients in the Memphis Metro area often suffer bouts of excruciating pain in the chest, arms, legs or other parts of the body. In crisis mode, they need a place to go where their disease is understood and can be quickly addressed.”

Johnny Ryall Apr 13, 2010 9:47 PM

Seismic issues resolved; Memphis, Bass Pro on way to finalize Pyramid deal
By Amos Maki

The city and Bass Pro Shops have reached a consensus on seismic issues at The Pyramid, paving the way for the two sides to finalize contract negotiations. “We reached an agreement with standards for seismic and adaptive reuse of the building,” said Mayor A C Wharton this afternoon during an executive committee meeting of the City Council. “They didn’t want to make any investment until we reached an agreement on seismic standards and the retrofit.” Wharton said he'd like to see the revamped Pyramid open in November 2011.

In the coming weeks, city officials will ask the state to extend the Tourism Development Zone, which now covers Cook Convention Center, to cover the Pyramid, a key part of Bass Pro’s plan to finance the transformation of the old arena. Wharton is scheduled to meet Bass Pro officials in Memphis on April 20 to hammer out contract details. Bass Pro and city officials have been considering an initial 20-year lease on the building, with seven renewal periods of five years each. The city and Bass Pro have been negotiating since late 2005, when the company signed its first letter of intent. Bass Pro plans to transform The Pyramid into a $100 million regional center with retail space, restaurants and a large conservation exhibit focusing on the Mississippi River.

In February 2009, the city signed an agreement giving the company until Dec. 31 to finish planning and gathering the necessary permits before signing a long-term lease. In December, the City Council agreed to extend the agreement with Bass Pro until March 31. Bass Pro has been paying the city $35,000 a month since signing the 2009 agreement and has committed to paying a $500,000 penalty if it pulled out of the deal.

Even though negotiations have dragged on for years, council members are still excited about the prospect of Bass Pro redeveloping the Pyramid, which they say could create hundreds of jobs and bring shoppers and tourists to Memphis from across the Mid-South. “Everyone they build is better than the last one they built so we should be the best in the country when they get started,” said councilwoman Barbara Swearengen Ware.

Johnny Ryall Apr 13, 2010 9:48 PM

UPDATE: Bass Pro Shops Sets Nov. Opening Date For Pyramid
Wharton Sends Draft Lease Agreement To Retailer

BILL DRIES | The Daily News

Bass Pro Shops executives have set a November 2011 opening date for their planned renovation of The Pyramid as a retail store with other attractions. Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. announced the date to City Council members this afternoon. During the council’s executive session, Wharton circulated a letter he sent today to Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris and CEO Jim Hagale. The city and Bass Pro Shops could have a lease for the redevelopment of The Pyramid signed by the end of April with work beginning almost immediately. The letter from Wharton includes a draft lease agreement between the city and the outdoors retailer.

“As we have jointly identified and removed … critical barriers, we are now prepared to move forward and finalize the lease terms relative to this key redevelopment project,” Wharton wrote. The city and Bass Pro executives are to meet April 20 to “discuss and finalize our negotiations of the business terms for the project. Wharton told the council developers from Poag & McEwen also will be involved in the meeting next week to answer questions about possible development of the surrounding Pinch district. An April 29 meeting is also set in Springfield, Mo., at Bass Pro headquarters to draft final versions of all of the agreements.

The “barriers” cleared this week include:

•An agreement that the floodwall system and maintenance program around The Pyramid are “sufficient” to protect it in the future.

•Using FM Global standards as the benchmark for seismic efforts as specific plans for the building are designed.

•An expansion of the Tourism Development Zone (TDZ) that now covers the Memphis Cook Convention Center. The TDZ status is essential for tax rebates or refunds to finance the Pyramid project.

The city of Memphis will remain the owner of The Pyramid.

Johnny Ryall Apr 13, 2010 10:22 PM

One Beale developer gets tax break to turn restaurant into offices
By Wayne Risher

Developers of the stalled One Beale project won a tax break today for renovation of a former seafood restaurant into top-tier office space. Carlisle Hotels Inc. was approved for a tax freeze up to seven years for a $2.7 million project to retrofit the former Joe's Crab Shack at 263 Wagner for developer Gene Carlisle's company offices.

The Center City Revenue Finance Corp. also approved a 10-year tax freeze for a 25-unit apartment building with ground-floor retail at 436 S. Front for Greenbrier Partners LLC. It granted a one-year extension for closing on a previously approved tax freeze for Grand Island LLC, which proposes to build 204 apartments on Mud Island south of the A.W. Willis Bridge.

Chance Carlisle said the family company, which has given notice to leave Peabody Place Tower, had a choice between moving some operations to Olive Branch or keeping everything Downtown.

Carlisle and company representative Earl Blankenship said One Beale isn't dead, just indefinitely delayed by a continuing drought in financing for such projects. Carlisle said officials envision the renovated office space eventually being flattened to make way for a new office component of One Beale. As originally envisioned, One Beale was a $186 million, mixed-use project including high-rise luxury hotel, condos and office space. In September 2008, the company said the project would be broken up into smaller piece, starting with a $25 million to $30 million low-rise hotel.

Johnny Ryall Apr 15, 2010 6:25 PM

Previously:

Hino Motors to unveil latest expansion
Memphis Business Journal

Hino Motors Manufacturing USA will hold a grand opening Feb. 7 for the latest expansion at its Marion, Ark. plant, the company announced Friday. Hino announced in May it would invest $70 million to expand the facility that makes axles and suspension components for the Toyota Tundra pickup truck. Hino Motors has invested $230 million in the facility since the company opened its first plant in Marion in 2004. Since 2004, Hino has expanded its employee base in Marion to 700 employees.

The grand opening event will start at 11 a.m. and feature Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe along with Koichi Funayama, acting consul general of Japan; Seiichi Sudo, president of Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America Inc.; and Shoji Kondo, president of Hino Motors Ltd. About 200-plus community leaders and Hino suppliers are expected to attend the opening. Japan-based Hino Motors manufactures trucks, buses and other automobiles.

Johnny Ryall Apr 15, 2010 6:26 PM

Hino brings new production line to Marion
Memphis Business Journal

Hino Motors Manufacturing USA is a division of Japan-based Hino Motors Ltd. which manufactures trucks, buses and other automobiles. Hino Motors Manufacturing USA Inc. will begin producing truck frame rails at its Marion, Ark., plant April 19. Hino is shifting production of the rails from its plant in California to the Marion plant. From Marion, the rails will be shipped to Ontario and West Virginia for assembly. Hino manufactures truck parts for its own vehicles and Toyota’s Sundra and Sequoia vehicles in Arkansas. It currently employs about 325 people in Marion. Hino officials could not immediately be reached for comment on how many jobs would be created through the new production lines.

Frank Fogleman, mayor of Marion, said Hino’s local management has worked to expand the services the plant can provide to keep its workers employed. Last February, Hino announced it would permanently lay off 157 of its Marion employees after months of decreasing production at the plant during the summer of 2008. Fogleman said he didn’t know how many jobs the new line would create. “It’ll stabilize their work force and give them the diversity to produce and expand,” Fogleman said. “The economy has been hard on everybody and their efforts have paid off.”

Johnny Ryall Apr 15, 2010 6:26 PM

Ernest Withers museum to open in May on Memphis' Beale Street
Memphis Business Journal

Exterior of 333 Beale, where the Withers Museum Collection & Gallery will open next month
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The Withers Museum Collection & Gallery will open a 3,000-square-foot storefront operation at 333 Beale Street in six weeks. The entire museum project will be 7,000 square feet. The first phase will include a set of Withers images curated and installed by Tony Decaneas of Panopticon Gallery in Boston. In addition to about 40 pieces of art hanging in the space, smaller versions printed as posters and postcards will be available for sale. Initial plans call for the space to be open to the public six days per week and also available as a rental venue for events.

The Withers Collection, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the cultural archive of Ernest Withers photography, is developing the gallery and museum. Withers, who died in October 2007, had a 60-year body of photography work. His subjects included everything from Elvis Presley to Beale Street to the civil rights movement.

Developers are targeting the last weekend in May to open the initial gallery on Beale. The opening will coincide with a spate of recent development on the east end of Beale Street including the opening of Lil’ Anthony’s Cafe, renovations to the entrance to the W.C. Handy historic home and the imminent openings of the Red Rooster and Ground Zero Blues Club.

“Truly a cultural linchpin holding together so much history of Beale and Memphis, the addition of Withers’ images will mean a great deal to our daytime tourism efforts,” John Elkington, chief executive officer of Performa Entertainment Real Estate Inc., said. “We hope that every school in the area will add the Withers Museum Collection & Gallery to the field trip list and show students these important images.” Plans for the museum were originally announced in May 2009.

Johnny Ryall Apr 15, 2010 6:27 PM

Lucite International to invest $90 million in Memphis facility, seeks PILOT
Memphis Business Journal - by Andy Ashby

Lucite International Inc. is applying for a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes abatement from the Memphis and Shelby County Industrial Development Board to modernize its Fite Road facility and invest in its office headquarters at 7275 Goodlett Farms Parkway. The potential $90 million project would retain 200 jobs with an annual average base pay of $89,531. With benefits, the average annual salary is $129,463. Lucite’s initial $90 million investment could ramp up over the next five years to a total capital investment of $135 million.

The IDB staff is recommending a 15-year tax assessment freeze on real and tangible person property. The board will meet on April 21. The PILOT could save the company $6.6 million in taxes over the 15 years. The IDB staff notes the project would have a cost/benefit ratio of 3.36, meaning every tax dollar abated would result in $3.36 of monetary benefit to the community in the form of indirect jobs created as a result of this project, sales taxes and residential property taxes.

Lucite is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Lucite International Group Limited, which was acquired by Mitsubishi Rayon Co. Ltd. in 2009. Lucite has a manufacturing facility at 2665 Fite Road which was constructed in the 1960s. The company is looking to upgrade its facility to utilize its Alpha Technology, a process which saves it money on its core business, which is designing, developing and manufacturing acrylic products. If selected, Memphis would be the only Lucite facility in the U.S. to use this technology. The company has a facility which can do this in Singapore. Lucite had received PILOTs in 1995 and 1998, both of which have expired. The company is paying real and personal property taxes on those previously exempt properties. The company’s application states that if the investment is not made, production would be shifted to Lucite’s facilities outside Shelby County and would probably lead to the plant closing.

The IDB passed a retention program late last year that makes companies eligible for PILOT benefits for expansions even if they don’t add jobs. A company must invest at least $10 million in capital improvements and remain in Memphis to be eligible. The program was initiated so good, long-standing companies in Memphis would remain here and not take jobs elsewhere.

Johnny Ryall Apr 15, 2010 6:27 PM

Center City committee clears path for construction of two new Downtown Memphis buildings
Memphis Business Journal - by Andy Ashby

The Center City Revenue Finance Corp. approved on Wednesday a pair of tax abatements for commercial projects Downtown. The first payment-in-lieu-of-taxes, a seven-year abatement, was for Carlisle Corp.’s plans to build a 16,000-square-foot office at 263 Wagner. Carlisle Corp. currently leases office space at Peabody Place for its 35 employees. It is considering a site in Olive Branch as well. If it picks Downtown Memphis to build its new office building, the company would try for a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design designation. The total development cost will be $2.7 million, which includes $933,300 in property acquisition, $1.68 million in construction costs and $100,000 in architecture, financing and legal fees. Construction is scheduled to begin in May and be done by August.

The CCRFC also approved a 10-year PILOT for Greenbriar Partners LLC to build a new mixed-use building at 436 S. Front. The company plans to demolish the existing building, which formerly housed S&S Custom Cabinets, and construct a property with 1,500 square feet of ground floor retail space, 25 apartments and 25 underground secured parking spaces. The apartments will consist of 20 one-bedroom units and five two-bedroom units. The total development cost is $2.5 million. Construction on the 29,000-square-foot building is planned to start in August and be completed by June 2011. The CCC’s Design Review Board will review the design plan on May 5. Kendall Haney Realty Group and the Downtown Condo Connection will lease the apartments and retail spaces. Greenbriar Partners owner Vince Smith has experience Downtown, having developed 420 South Front Condos, a 36-condo mixed-use project across from The Nettleton Luxury Condominiums.

Johnny Ryall Apr 15, 2010 6:28 PM

Graceland owner sees development, attraction fit for a king
Bullish Sillerman short on development details
the Commercial Appeal | By Wayne Risher

Graceland's corporate owner came to Memphis on Wednesday bearing assurances that he's committed to a massive redevelopment of the area surrounding Elvis Presley's iconic home. Emerging from a City Hall meeting with City Council, Greater Memphis Chamber and Graceland officials, Robert F.X. Sillerman, chairman and CEO of CKx Inc., had some advice for Memphians: "They should get out of their chairs and go to Graceland five or six times now and five or six times again during the year so they can say they remember it before we turned it into the spectacular that it is going to be."

Sillerman, whose entertainment company added Graceland to its portfolio in 2004, and his legal team met with council chairman Harold Collins, chamber president John Moore and Elvis Presley Enterprises CEO Jack Soden. Collins said discussion included the status of plans to improve Elvis Presley Boulevard and importance of a top-quality redevelopment for residents of long-established Whitehaven neighborhoods that border the site. Public improvements and the creation of a tourist-development zone are among incentives that city government has put on the table. "There was some discussion about timetables, but there was nothing definite except for Mr. Sillerman making a commitment that they were willing to do the development," Collins said. "This is a project that's going to be a massive undertaking. It's important that before it's unveiled, the community gets to share in the presentation of the project," Collins added. "It's important that Mr. Sillerman understands this is a high level of people he's going to be talking to when he unveils his plan."

City engineers have scheduled a meeting to present preliminary information about the road project and get residents' input from 6 to 8 p.m. April 26 at Whitehaven Community Center, 4318 Graceland. The revamp of Whitehaven's main street will start at the Brooks Road intersection and extend perhaps as far south as Shelby Drive, with state of Tennessee approval necessary since it's also U.S. 51.

Collins said Sillerman didn't give details of the development master plan, which CKx said in its annual report last month was being reconfigured after original designs were discarded. "He did not talk specifics of what the design would be or what it would look like, and I did not press him on that," Collins said. Chamber officials wouldn't comment, citing confidentiality of pending development matters.

CKx confirmed sale rumors last month after The Wall Street Journal reported that the company might be sold to a private-equity division of JP Morgan Chase. CKx spokesman Ed Tagliaferri said Wednesday that there was nothing new on the potential sale. Staff reporter Amos Maki contributed to this article.

Johnny Ryall Apr 19, 2010 1:21 AM

Memphis International Airport key player in China conference
City will host 2011's world summit
The Commercial Appeal | By Wayne Risher

A Memphis delegation will travel to Beijing this week to make sure the Bluff City shines as host of the influential Airport Cities World Conference next year. After this year's conference ends Friday, the Memphians will stick around for a strategy session of branded aerotropolises, convened by FedEx. An aerotropolis is an airport-centered economic development model first described by University of North Carolina professor John Kasarda. Memphis business leaders are pushing to take full advantage of economic strengths associated with Memphis International Airport.

FedEx executives and aerotropolis organizers from Paris, Guangzhou, China, and Memphis will attend a postconference workshop Saturday, said Greater Memphis Chamber chairman Tom Schmitt. "We want to make sure we start building our game plans for those three aerotropolis areas together," said Schmitt, senior vice president of FedEx Solutions.

Organizers have trademarked Memphis as America's Aerotropolis, Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport as Aerotropolis Europe, and Guangzhou's Baiyun International Airport as Asia's Aerotropolis. "This is all about appealing to businesses in each one of those economic powerhouses: 'If you want to have access to anywhere, this is how you connect to those centers,'" Schmitt added. Paris and Guangzhou are FedEx's key hubs for Europe and Asia-Pacific regions, respectively.

Mayor A C Wharton will arrive in Beijing in time for a ceremony setting up next year's conference April 11-13. He'll also speak at the aerotropolis cities summit. Following in footsteps of host cities Dallas and Athens, Greece, Memphis expects about 500 participants and estimated economic impact of $432,000 from its conference. "We have the singular distinction of being a freight hub as well as a passenger hub," Wharton said. "As we seek to build on that, hopefully with a direct flight into Asia and hopefully Paris, we'll need to have a very high profile among the other airports of the world." Airport Authority board chairman Arnold Perl said, "This is a big deal. This isn't just about the airport. This is about Memphis."

Also attending will be airport president Larry Cox, vice chairman Jim Ethridge, commissioner Herb Hilliard and communications director Janice Young; Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau president Kevin Kane and executive vice president John Oros; Larry Jensen, chairman of the Aerotropolis Corridor Development Group; and Andrew Russell, FedEx Services manager of sales planning.

Johnny Ryall Apr 19, 2010 1:22 AM

Feature of the week: Moving up in Downtown
Goodwyn offers panoramic views of Memphis, river
The Commercial Appeal | By John Wood

http://media.commercialappeal.com/me...der6_t607.jpeg Photo by Dennis Copeland

Working your way to the top in Downtown Memphis is considerably easier now that prices for condos at The Goodwyn, 127 Madison at Second, have become so affordable. Hobson Realtors, sales agency for this totally refurbished Downtown landmark structure, reports that sales at The Goodwyn have been brisk, but that a good selection of full- and half-floor units are still available. Due to the design of The Goodwyn, buyers have the opportunity to purchase entire floors of the building from the ninth floor up, which gives them 3,100 square feet of living space, security via the elevator system, 20-foot long balconies on the west side of the building, and an amazing 360-degree view of the city and the Mississippi River, all at a price starting at $399,000. "When you get off the elevator, you walk right into your own entry hall," said Joel Hobson, president of Hobson Realtors. "No one else has access to your floor, no one else lives on that floor, and only you have access to your floor unless you give them permission to come up."

Full-floor units come with a unique floor plan that includes three bedrooms, three full baths, a separate living room and dining room, a wet bar, gas log fireplace, hardwood floors, and 10-foot ceilings. Only two of the popular half-floor units on the second and third floors -- out of the original 14 available -- remain unsold. With prices starting at $175,000, these are two-bedroom, two-bath plans that offer a wide-open kitchen, a large combination living room and dining room, laundry room and nine-foot ceilings.

All of the remodeled units at The Goodwyn come with easy access via new high-speed elevators, energy-saving windows, individual central heat and air-conditioning units, hardwood floors, marble floors in the bathrooms and foyers, and in the kitchen, granite countertops, and G.E. stainless-steel appliances. Buyers of half-floor and full-floor units are provided complete access to common areas at The Goodwyn, including the recently renovated lobby that comes with 20-foot ceilings, a fireplace and bar, a lush, landscaped courtyard with fountain, the attached parking garage, and the building's signature 19th-floor, 3,100-square foot rooftop area that includes a hot tub, an outdoor kitchen with a grill and refrigerator, and a magnificent 360-degree vista of Downtown Memphis.

http://media.commercialappeal.com/me...der3_t607.jpeg Photo by Dennis Copeland

"The city views at night are just as spectacular as the views of Riverside Drive and the Mississippi River," Hobson adds. "And considering it's in the middle of Downtown Memphis at Madison and Second Street, living at The Goodwyn puts you within walking distance or a trolley ride of all the major Downtown restaurants and attractions, including AutoZone Park, the Rendezvous, FedExForum, the Orpheum, and Beale Street." Hobson Realtors sales agents will be glad to arrange for your own guided tour. Just give Laurie McBride a call at 312-2962 or Lynda Biggs at 312-2958, or the offices of Hobson Realtors at 761-1622.

http://media.commercialappeal.com/me...der4_t607.jpeg Photo by Dennis Copeland

Johnny Ryall Apr 19, 2010 1:23 PM

Medical devices drive expansion
Wright Medical among firms seeing growth
Memphis Business Journal - by Michael Sheffield

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On the heels of expansions by medical device companies Onyx Medical Corp. and NuVasive Inc., Wright Medical Technology Inc. is investing $10 million to upgrade its distribution center in Arlington. In an economy where most industries are cutting back on employees and spending, medical device companies in Memphis are continuing to grow and expand operations. That trend, says Leigh Anne Downes, director of life science business development for the Greater Memphis Chamber, has led the Chamber to work with local device companies to help recruit similar businesses to the city. “They know the industry better than I do, so they can pinpoint companies that would make sense to have across the street from them versus across the country,” Downes says.

For Wright Medical, one of the keys to its continued growth has been its foot and ankle division, which has experienced quarterly growth of 20% for the last 11 quarters, says Gary Henley, president and CEO of Wright Medical. The company also manufactures joint implants for hips and knees. Henley says Wright exited 2009 at about $200 million in sales from foot and ankle products. Growth in that division, which now has more than 400 devices and procedures available for foot and ankle issues, is directly attributed to an increase in diabetes and obesity-related foot problems. The company has also grown its sales force for that division from one person in 2006 to more than 125 now.

Henley says Wright Medical sustained its 1,000 local employees during the recession by reassigning some to different jobs until its new manufacturing facility was completed last summer. The company’s new 55,000-square-foot distribution facility could be open by late this summer. Henley says the investment will cover renovation of the building as well as new equipment like conveyer systems to make processes more efficient. Once that facility is completed, Wright will continue planning for a new three-story office. A target date has not been set for that project, but Henley says its current office space eventually will be used exclusively for research and development. “It’s an investment we have to make to be competitive long term,” Henley says.

Wright Medical is joined in its local growth by companies like Onyx and NuVasive, both of which have seen business grow to the point of needing expansion. Onyx, which manufactures drill bits, screws and wires for the device industry, is in the process of developing a $4.5 million facility it will own. San Deigo-based NuVasive manufactures and distributes spinal surgery kits that it rents to hospitals and surgery centers across the country. It is investing $1.6 million in an expansion of its local facility. In 2008, Medtronic, which has its spinal and biologics divisions located in Memphis, finished a $90 million expansion of its Memphis facilities.

As the industry thrives, it is bracing for repercussions from the health care reform legislation passed last month. Part of the reform bill creates a 2.2% excise tax on certain medical devices that could impact the industry by $20 billion over 10 years, starting in 2013. In a statement released when the reform bill was passed, Medtronic estimated the tax could have an impact of $150 million to $200 million on the company’s bottom line. While the tax will be deductible, it could impact key areas of device makers’ operations. “A lot of companies would have to cut back on research and development, which cuts back on innovation,” Henley says. “The U.S. has been a leader in medical devices forever. It would be a shame if we lost that position.” Dick Tarr, executive director of InMotion Orthopaedic Research Center, says the tax could also affect how startup companies operate. Larger device companies may be able to deduct or pass on the cost, but smaller companies will see it come directly from sales.

Johnny Ryall Apr 19, 2010 8:41 PM

Lehman Brothers Holdings wins auction for 28-acre Midtown tract
The Commercial Appeal | By Tom Bailey Jr.

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Property lender Lehman Brothers Holdings Co. outbid a Nashville-based UP Development Co. this morning to buy a controversial, 28-acre Midtown tract whose redevelopment was derailed by the recession and foreclosure. Lehman Brothers Holdings, itself under bankruptcy protection, foreclosed earlier this year on the property bordered roughly by Poplar, Court, McNeil and Cleveland. An attorney representing Lehman, Hunter Humphreys of Glankler Brown, started the bidding on the Shelby County Courthouse steps at $2 million. Real estate attorney Michael Chance, in cell phone contact with UP Development, countered with $2.1 million.

The bidding continued: Lehman Brothers ($2,150,000); UP Develoment ($3 million); Lehman Brothers ($3,050,000); UP Development ($3,100,000); and finally, Lehman Brothers ($3,150,000). Substitute trustee Stewart Austin, also of Glankler Brown, paused while Chance consulted on his iPhone. “We’re done,” Chance said. Asked if UP Development still might show interest in the property in the future, Chance nodded and said, “We’ll let you know.”

WSG Memphis, a unit of WSG Development of Miami, purchased the property in 2007 for $12 million and obtained a $14 million construction loan from Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. The mixed-use redevelopment never occurred, and the area is now plagued with squatters, debris, crime and fires. Indicative of just how much of community problem the vacant property has become was the presence at the auction of a Memphis Fire Department official. The department, which has had to deal with fires of vacant buildings there, wanted to know who the new owners would be.

Johnny Ryall Apr 19, 2010 9:53 PM

Even Wamp "Gets it"
 
Wamp Commits Himself to "Memphis Renaissance" as Governor
Memphis Flyer | Posted by Jackson Baker

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Republican gubernatorial candidate Zach Wamp came to Memphis on Monday for a round of activities beginning with a tour of the Criminal Justice Center at 201 Poplar in the company of District Attorney General Bill Gibbons and Sheriff Mark Luttrell. Thereafter he stood on the 3rd St. side of the CJC with Gibbons, and, while he couldn’t at this point claim the endorsement of Gibbons, his former opponent for the GOP nomination, Wamp did what he did to lay the groundwork for such serendipity, including a virtual declaration of honorary home-boy status. “Memphis matters,” Wamp declared. “It matters to the future of Tennessee. Just because I didn’t grow up in Memphis doesn’t mean I won’t be fully committed to Memphis.” The Chattanooga congressman expressed a wish for “a long overdue Memphis Renaissance” and pledged himself to that end. He promised that, if nominated, the first place he would come would be Memphis. Ditto with his initial destination as soon as he got inaugurated as governor. And he vowed, too, that, once installed as governor, he would devote “most of my time” to the concerns of Shelby County. “As Memphis goes, so goes Tennessee,” Wamp said. Asked if an endorsement by Gibbons might be in the cards, Wamp said, “There’s 96 days to go [until the gubernatorial primary], plenty of time for that. I hope that that’s the case later on. It’s for him to consider. I didn’t ask for that yet.” Meanwhile, he praised Gibbons’ now folded campaign as something that had made him “a better candidate” himself and promised to support Gibbons’ goals. He said he considered Operation Safe Community to be a model. “I’ll continue to try to win General Gibbons’ support,” he said.

Wamp said he was still committed to full support for the Med, but hedged modestly when asked if he intended to sign a specific pledge sought of all gubernatorial candidates by the Shelby County Commission. The commission wants all candidates to commit themselves to rout all federal funds generated by indigent care at the Med back to the Med itself. “I still haven’t seen it,” Wamp said of the pledge, but indicated he was still committed to sign it. Wamp expressed support of the burgeoning state sovereignty movement but unequivocally distanced himself from the rhetoric of “states’ rights,” which, he said, smacked of “segregation and going backwards.” He said his recent vow to resist federal health-care legislation by meeting the federal government “at the state line” was metaphorical, not literal. “I am a fighter. I’m a nice guy and a compassionate guy, but I also from time to time will stand up and fight,” said Wamp, who characterized the new federal health-care act as a “billion-dollar mandate that we can’t afford” and something that was worth fighting. “Fighting may be in a court of law, fighting may be at the ballot box,” he said.

Wamp is battling Knoxville mayor Bill Haslam and state Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey of Blouneville for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. The winner of that contest will oppose Jackson businessman Mike McWherter, a Democrat, in the fall.

Johnny Ryall Apr 21, 2010 1:52 AM

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton joins group pushing for more infrastructure spending
The Commercial Appeal | By Bartholomew Sullivan

WASHINGTON -- Memphis Mayor A C Wharton has joined California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in calling for more federal infrastructure investment. The co-chairmen of Building America's Future announced Wharton's participation on Monday, noting that Memphis received $27.5 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act transportation spending last year. They also noted that 11.6 percent of the Memphis work force is in transportation, warehousing and utilities, the highest percentage among the nation's largest metropolitan areas.

In a statement, Wharton said: "Given Memphis' unique location, transportation-dependent economy, and geological concerns, few things are more important to me than dealing with our infrastructure needs. "I want to make Memphis a true city of choice for all families and businesses, and that work begins by making sure that high-quality transportation, urban planning and sound environmental policy receive the attention and resources they require."

Johnny Ryall Apr 21, 2010 1:53 AM

Hino expansion in Marion is step closer to truck production
The Commercial Appeal | By Wayne Risher

Kevin Ohneck, manager of Marion's Hino Motors plant, discusses the new truck frame manufacturing line that started Monday.
http://media.commercialappeal.com/me...0c1a_t607.jpeg Photo by Jim Weber

The latest expansion of Marion's Hino plant moves the Japanese manufacturer closer to a "Made in USA" goal and Marion closer to a dream of a full-fledged truck assembly plant. Hino Motors Manufacturing USA on Monday unveiled results of a $20 million investment in two new production lines, adding about 25 jobs. Community leaders and business executives tour Hino's Marion plant Monday during ceremonies to mark the start of new production lines there. The Toyota subsidiary opened the new lines about six weeks ago. It is producing frame or chassis rails for commercial truck assembly plants in West Virginia and Canada, and connecting rods for engines made in Japan. The 425-employee plant also makes axles and components of steering and suspension mechanisms for Toyota Tundras and Sequoias.

Hino's expansion comes as Greater Memphis and the Mid-South meet mixed results in luring foreign investment in manufacturing facilities, particularly automotive. Toyota built, then mothballed, a planned Prius plant near Tupelo because of slumping sales during the recession, while German investors have announced plans to build a pipe manufacturing facility in Tunica. Yasuo Tanigawa, president of Hino USA, said, "Since breaking ground on the plant in 2004, Hino has had great partnership and support from the state, Crittenden County and city of Marion. Putting this project here is a demonstration of our commitment to Arkansas."

When Hino built the Marion plant, officials envisioned the possibility of a full-fledged truck assembly plant once Hino's U.S. sales volume was strong enough. Marion Mayor Frank Fogleman said the expansion was movement in that direction. "It's another step in the process of my ultimate goal, and that is seeing trucks assembled here in Marion," he said. "I hope that's sooner rather than later." Hino spokesman Sandy Ring said, "Right now, our commercial truck sales volume does not require that we investigate building a second plant. When that time comes, and we are confident that our sales will continue to increase, we will explore location options. But this investment speaks for itself: Hino is pleased to be in Arkansas and we are committed to a long-term presence." The frame-rail production unit takes pieces of steel up to 32 feet long, bends the edges up to form C-shaped channels and uses lasers to cut holes for various parts to be inserted. The rails are painted, packaged in pairs and shipped to assembly plants. Ken Dean, assistant manager of stamping and roll frame, said the plant is set up to ship 20 sets of rails a day with one shift of workers.

Shinji Fujimoto, Hino Motors Ltd. senior managing director and board member, said the expansion significantly shortens turnaround. It has taken up to three months to ship frame rails from Japan to North America, since the company stopped having the part made at a Long Beach, Calif., plant last year. Chassis components from Marion can be available for final assembly within two weeks. "We are determined to pursue even more localization of parts and capacity so we can respond to our customers' needs even more efficiently," said Fujimoto. Robert McDowell, senior vice president of sales, said Marion's output gives Hino a leg up on meeting increased demand for American-made parts. The company's Williamstown, W.Va., plant is producing trucks with majority made-in-USA components, with engines and cabs imported from Japan, he said. Fujimoto wants to see more Hino-branded trucks on America's highways. During a weekend drive from West Virginia, "I did not see many Hino trucks on the way to Arkansas. I am confident this will improve," he said.

Johnny Ryall Apr 21, 2010 1:54 AM

Memphis Center City Commission narrows presidential candidates to eight
The Commercial Appeal | By Wayne Risher

A committee seeking a new Center City Commission chief today named a short list of eight candidates: four locals who have histories with the CCC and four out-of-town residents. The search committee led by board chairwoman Jennifer Hagerman voted to conduct face-to-face interviews with: (1) Scott Adams, chief urban redevelopment officer for the City of Las Vegas and former CCC assistant executive director in the 1980s. (2) Thomas C. Chatmon Jr., executive director of Orlando's Downtown Development Board/Community Redevelopment Agency. (3) Andy L. Kitsinger, Center City senior vice president, planning and development. (4) Paul L. Krutko Jr., chief development officer, City of San Jose, Calif. since 2002. (5) Myron Lowery, Memphis City Councilman and former CCC board member. (6) Rick Masson, executive director, Shelby Farms Park Conservancy, and former Memphis finance director, chief administrative officer and CCC board member. (7) Paul Morris, shareholder with Martin, Tate, Morrow & Marston attorneys and immediate past chairman of the CCC. (8) Frank W. Robinson, town manager, Apple Valley, Calif.

The candidates were selected from among 20 applicants deemed best qualified for the position from which CCC president and CEO Jeff Sanford is retiring effective June 30. Sanford's salary is $155,000 a year. Center City oversees planning and development of Downtown and a larger central business improvement district. It's directed by a board appointed by city and county governments. Among those not making the interview cut were insiders Jerome Rubin, a former councilman who is CCC vice president, operations, and Eric Robertson, CCC chief administrative officer; former CCC staffer Lee Warren; and Memphians John Lawrence, a former CCC staff member, and Mason Kauffman. Head-hunting consultant David Smith said two female applicants from out of town weren't deemed sufficiently qualified for the short list. The list includes two African-Americans, Lowery and Chatmon.

Johnny Ryall Apr 21, 2010 1:58 AM

Lucite says it may invest up to $135 million at Woodstock plant
The Commercial Appeal | By Tom Bailey Jr.

An acrylic plastic manufacturer now plans to make an even bigger investment in modernizing its plant in Woodstock, north of Memphis. Lucite International now plans a $90 million upgrade with “the ability to add an additional $45 million in capital investment” during the term of a 15-year tax break called payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT). The firm filed a revised application for what’s called a retention PILOT. The Memphis and Shelby County Industrial Development Board is to vote Wednesday whether to approve the tax break that could save Lucite $6.6 million in taxes. But the investment would help preserve 200 jobs with an average $89,531 wage. And, according to a staff analysis, the project would create a $260 million economic impact for the county. The company would still pay $2.2 million in taxes over the 15 years. The manufacturing facility is at 2665 Fite Road. But Lucite also has its headquarters for the Americas in Cordova. If Lucite does not upgrade the plant, the county could lose both the plant and the headquarters, company officials have said.

Johnny Ryall Apr 21, 2010 2:02 AM

Askew Nixon picked to design $75M casino
Memphis Business Journal - by MIchael Sheffield

http://assets.bizjournals.com/story_...81-300-0-1.jpg Photo Credit : LEE SWETS | MBJ

http://assets.bizjournals.com/story_...91-300-0-1.jpg Photo Credit : ALAN HOWELL | MBJ

Askew Nixon Ferguson Architects has been selected by Abston-McKay Ventures LLC and Lakes Entertainment Inc. as lead architect for the $75 million Sportsman Casino and Lodge in Tunica. Design on the recently announced project is expected to be complete by October; construction should start late this year. The property could be open by the end of 2011. For Askew Nixon, the project represents one of its largest deals in recent months and may signal a recovery in the architecture industry. “It was pretty grim for the first two and a half months (this year), but we’re starting to see some things come in,” Askew says. “A lot of our big clients like FedEx and the University of Memphis are starting to crank up some things that were on hold.” Askew’s perspective echoes the American Institute of Architects’ Architectural Billings Index, which rose to 44.8 in February, up from 42.5 in January. A score below 50 indicates a decrease in billings. March numbers are due next week.

Oxford, Miss.-based Abston-McKay and Minnetonka, Minn.-based Lakes Entertainment are co-developing the project, which will be located at the site of the former Isle of Capri casino near Sam’s Town Casino and Hotel on Casino Strip. Askew Nixon will redesign the 220-room hotel left by Isle of Capri when it closed in 2002. The casino will be a new building Askew Nixon is designing as part of the project. Lee Askew, a principal with Askew Nixon, says the project represents a return to casino architecture for the firm, which designed Sam’s Town in Tunica in 1993 and has worked on smaller projects at Tunica casino properties. Askew Nixon also has designed casinos in Louisiana and Illinois. Kevin Hunter, CEO of Abston-McKay Ventures, says the company considered firms “inside and outside the city of Memphis” before choosing Askew Nixon. “We went with them because (Askew has) a great vision of this area and world-class credentials in the gaming industry,” Hunter says. “There are a lot of people throwing out ideas on this project and he’s keeping us pulled together to keep the focus on this project.”

Askew says the new casino will include more than 40,000 square feet of gaming space on one level, a 1,200-seat theater and “one of the largest buffets in the area.” Plans are in place for a 5,000-square-foot VIP players lounge, new swimming pools, a poker room and retail space. The number of hotel rooms will increase to 230. The project received site approval from the Mississippi Gaming Commission last month.

Askew Nixon isn’t the only local firm finding business in casino projects. Hnedak Bobo Group Inc. was recently named lead architect on the $500 million West Valley Resort near Glendale, Ariz. “We’re really going to gut it so everything will be brand new, from wall surfaces to fixtures and carpeting,” Askew says. “You won’t even know you’re in an older building.” Lakes is an offshoot of the company that originally developed Grand Casino properties in Tunica, Biloxi and Gulfport in the late 1990s. Lakes sold its Grand properties to Caesars in 1998 and left the Tunica market shortly thereafter. Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. bought the Grand properties (along with Horseshoe) in 2004 and 2005. Ironically, Harrah’s original property in Tunica was located at the old Isle of Capri site until 1999.

Scott Barber, division president of Harrah’s Entertainment, says he doesn’t know enough details to speculate on the possibility of success for Sportsman, which will join nine other casinos currently in operation in Tunica County. “We’re the biggest and baddest and we weren’t successful at that site, so they must know something we don’t,” Barber says. Askew says with architects and engineers combined, the firm will have about 15 people working on design. Salt Lake City-based Okland Construction Co. Inc. will be the general contractor on the project. Subcontractors have not been chosen.

Hunter says even though the development process is “lengthy and involved,” Sportsman is proceeding as planned toward the 2011 opening target. “We want to move as quickly as possible, but we also want to make the right decisions,” Hunter says. “What you don’t want to do is get in a hurry with a project of this magnitude. We want to make sure it’s high quality.”

Johnny Ryall Apr 21, 2010 2:03 AM

Pyramid, Bass Pro Talks Move to Lease Terms
BILL DRIES | The Daily News

City of Memphis leaders and executives from Bass Pro Shops meet Tuesday to begin talking lease terms for The Pyramid. Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. included a draft lease in an April 13 letter to Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris and president Jim Hagale.

A city delegation was in Nashville Monday to review the project for the State Building Commission. The commission’s executive committee approved an extension of the use of revenue from the Downtown Tourism Development Zone (TDZ) to include The Pyramid. The resulting tax increment financing will help finance the public infrastructure improvements around the site. Before Monday’s expansion of how the tax money within the zone was used, it could only be used to retire the debt of the Memphis Cook Convention Center over 30 years. The financing is in its eighth year.

Tuesday’s meeting in Memphis will also include representatives of developers Poag & McEwen. The firm is involved, Wharton said, because Bass Pro executives want to see some kind of plans for developing the surrounding Pinch District. The outdoor retailer plans to build a super store within The Pyramid and develop other attractions, including a hotel either inside The Pyramid or attached to the former arena. Other items on the agenda are defining terms in a lease agreement, a list of landlord contributions for the city to accomplish, a task list for Bass Pro Shops, construction standards and timelines for construction as well as the flow of money into the project.

The goal of both sides is to complete the deal and sign a lease in the next month. A signing could come as early as an April 29 meeting in Springfield, Mo., at Bass Pro Shops headquarters. The meeting there is scheduled to “draft the final versions of the lease/development/improvement agreements,” according to the city’s letter.

Johnny Ryall Apr 21, 2010 2:53 AM

Pyramid Arena - Photo Credit : Memphis CVB

Johnny Ryall Apr 21, 2010 3:52 PM

Annesdale Mansion Listed for $1.2 Million
TOM WILEMON | The Daily News

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Annesdale, commonly referred to as the Snowden Mansion, is on the market for $1.2 million. Ed Beasley of Sowell & Co. Realtors has the listing, which includes the Italianate villa built in 1850 and seven acres of landscaped grounds. The mansion at 1325 Lamar Ave. is across the street from the University Club. Listing the property is a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Beasley. With each showing, he discovers something new. “The other day, I decided I would walk the entire perimeter,” he said. “There was a whole bank of daffodils in bloom two weeks ago. It’s always changing.” The grounds include carefully planted trees, a fountain, an outdoor fireplace, sculptural elements and a reflecting pool.

Annesdale is a rarity in an urban setting. It’s a historic mansion built to a large scale that still has the grounds to go with it. The house encompasses 8,646 square feet, according to the Shelby County Assessor of Property. Beasley described Annesdale as a very livable home. “It’s in good solid condition,” he said. “There is an old kitchen. It’s old by our standards. It’s a 1950s St. Charles kitchen that was done literally 50 or 60 years ago. The rest of the house has just been kind of lovingly maintained.” The house has had several showings, he said, including a couple of people who seemed to have serious interest.

The house was built in 1850 by Dr. Samuel Mansfield, a wholesale druggist. In 1869, Robert C. Brinkley bought it as a wedding gift for his daughter, Annie Overton Brinkley, who married Col. Robert Bogardus Snowden. Three nearby neighborhoods, Annesdale Snowden, Annesdale Park and Rozelle Annesdale get their names from the property. Today, the house is owned by the estates of a brother and sister, Robert G. Snowden and May Snowden Todd. Robert Snowden and Todd both died in 2006. But Todd’s husband, Thomas Hardy Todd Jr., continued to live in the house until his death last June.

One of Annesdale’s unique features is a lookout tower. Inside, it has marble and hardwood floors, handsome paneling, a curving staircase, elaborately painted ceilings, ornate plaster and the original light fixtures and mantles. The old craftsmanship even extends to the bricks, which were handmade from clay excavated in digging the basement. “There’s a black-and-white marble floor in the entrance hall,” Beasley said. “One of the things that amazes me is there are no cracks in that marble floor.”

Pictures of the house, the curved staircase and other details can be viewed at www.sowellandco.com. Annesdale is one of two Midtown residential listings Sowell has on its website that are priced in excess of $1 million. The other property is 1554 Peabody Ave., listed at just over $1 million. Annesdale has 13 rooms, including five bedrooms, four full baths and one half-bath. There are a total of nine fireplaces. The house also has a working elevator. Originally, the rear of the house was designated for staff, but the Todd family converted those areas fur use as a laundry room, butler’s pantry and dark room, Beasley said. Furnishings from the house were sold at an estate sale in October. They included century-old antiques too large to fit into most modern homes.

Robert C. Brinkley built the original Peabody hotel in 1869, the same year he bought Annesdale for his daughter. Brinkley also donated the land for Saint Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral. His other business interests included banking and a railroad.

Johnny Ryall Apr 21, 2010 3:52 PM

Business headline with a nice pic of one of the Shady Grove buildings in East Memphis. Plans for a 4th one are currently in the works.

Stone Point, Hellman & Friedman buying Sedgwick CMS for $1.1 billion
Memphis Business Journal

Sedgwick CMS' Memphis headquarters at 1100 Ridgeway Loop Road
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Sedgwick Claims Management Services Inc. is changing ownership in a $1.1 billion private equity deal. Greenwich, Conn.-based Stone Point Capital LLC and San Francisco-based Hellman & Friedman LLC are buying Memphis-based Sedgwick, according to a news release. Members of the company’s management team also will have an ownership position, but the company did not name management owners or break down ownership percentages. An agreement to acquire 100 percent ownership was signed with the current group of owners that include Fidelity National Financial Inc., Thomas H. Lee Partners LP, Evercore Capital Partners and other minority shareholders. The deal is expected to close sometime in the second quarter subject to regulatory approvals.

Private equity firms Stone Point Capital and Hellman & Friedman have experience investing in the insurance, financial services, health care and employee benefits industries. Hellman & Friedman was founded in 1984 and has raised more than $25 billion of committed capital, according to a release. Stone Point was founded in 1985 and has raised more than $10 billion in committed capital. Sedgwick CMS is an insurance claims administrator and program administrator that has 150 offices in the U.S. and Canada.

Johnny Ryall Apr 21, 2010 4:57 PM

Thompson & Co. looks to relocate Downtown office
Memphis Business Journal - by Andy Ashby

The Center City Commission’s financial incentives seem to be drawing interest from a mix of property owners, schools and businesses, if the agenda for the Center City Development Corp. board of directors meeting Wednesday is any indication. Trezevant Realty Corp., operating as Union Main Holdings LLC, has submitted a development loan application to renovate its 17,000-square-foot building at the southwest corner of Union and Main. Thompson & Co. also is applying for a CCDC office grant to relocate to the building, at 85 Union. Union Main Holdings plans to spend $1.6 million on the three-story building, with construction scheduled to begin in May and be completed by October. The CCC’s Design Review Board approved design plans earlier this month. Union Main Holdings is a seeking a $200,000 development loan to complement a $1.2 million financing commitment from Metropolitan Bank. The financing is dependent on the $200,000 loan and the CCC staff is recommending approval. If approved, the building at 85 Union — which formerly housed a Smooth Moves location — already has a potential tenant in Thompson & Co. The advertising and marketing firm, whose 15-year lease at 50 Peabody Place is expiring in December 2010, is considering a 12-year, 10,406-square-foot lease at 85 Union. The CCC staff recommends approval of the $15,000 office grant, which would be used for tenant improvements.

Also at the meeting, the Memphis College Preparatory Elementary is seeking a development loan to open a charter school at 278 Greenlaw Ave. The nonprofit plans to spend $607,500 renovating the building, with construction planned for May to July. The CCC staff is recommending a development loan for $32,000, which is what the project grades out for, but also recommends the CCDC consider the school’s request for a $80,000 development grant.

Also, Powers Hill Design LLC, a civil engineering design firm, is applying for an office grant. It could sign a five-year, 1,800-square-foot lease at Brinkley Plaza at 80 Monroe. The CCC staff is recommending a $7,500 grant.

Finally, a designer apparel store operator, Eric Evans, is applying for incentives to open Sache Design in the South Main Historic Arts District. Evans is planning to sign a five-year lease for 1,747 square feet at 525 S. Main. The CCC staff is recommending approval of a $40,000 retail forgivable loan and a $7,350 facade improvement grant.

Johnny Ryall Apr 22, 2010 3:12 PM

Le Bonheur tweaks its name and image
The Commercial Appeal | By Toby Sells

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By now it's no secret that Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center is building a new $340 million facility on Poplar. But it is in that spirit of "new" that the hospital now has a new logo, a new vision and a new name. Le Bonheur dropped "medical center" from its name and is now, simply, "Le Bonheur Children's Hospital." "Le Bonheur is known in the community just as Le Bonheur Children's Hospital, and very few people knew particularly that it was 'medical center,' " said Jennilyn Utkov, the hospital's director of marketing and communications. "We know that Le Bonheur is a very different word and we wanted to simplify our name as much as we could." The name is one project in a two-year endeavor to update the hospital's brand in the run-up to the new facility's grand opening event June 15.

Gone, too, is the hospital's old logo, with the curved "Le" followed by the pregnant-looking "B" in the shape of a heart. A heart remains, though, in the new logo, a stitched red heart that stands in the for "o" in Le Bonheur. A 28-foot version of the stitched heart will be hoisted across Poplar on Sunday by a helicopter. It will be affixed just under the curved roof of the new hospital facing Poplar. The stitching is a reminder of the hospital's 1952 founding by the Le Bonheur Club, a group of women who originally gathered to sew clothes for orphans.

"(Le Bonheur CEO Meri Armour) has a new vision for the hospital, and we felt like a change in the brand identity would reflect the evolution of the Le Bonheur brand," Utkov said. Armour has said she wants Le Bonheur to continue to be the primary children's hospital for those in the Mid-South, but she also wants to make it one of the premier children's hospitals in the country, with nationally recognized medical programs. The hospital's marketing team spent two years thinking, surveying focus groups and laying the foundation of a coming print and television ad campaign. Actor Morgan Freeman once again donated his much-sought-after voice-over talents to the hospital's television spots. "In our research, we also talked to other children's hospitals across the country, and those who have built new facilities or changed their vision have gone under some kind of name or brand change," said Le Bonheur senior marketing specialist Julie Ashby.

http://www.memphisdailynews.com/Edit...5&maxWidth=300 PHOTO BY TOM WILEMON

Le Bonheur Children's Hospital:
New hospital: 610,000 square feet, $340 million
Service area: 95 counties in six states
Beds: 225
ER visits per year: 65,500
Online: lebonheur.org

Also:

Methodist Le Bonheur Women’s & Children’s Pavilion, Germantown, Tenn.

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Located in a Memphis suburb, this $80.5 million hospital expansion will add 100 beds to the 209-bed facility as the building team works to make it environmentally friendly. They are seeking LEED Silver certification, still a relatively new practice in health care building and presenting the job’s biggest challenge, says Danny Moeschle, senior project manager.

The four-story project includes the 220,000-sq-ft expansion for women’s and children’s services, a 637-space parking deck and renovations to the existing hospital. The expansion will add 70 general medical/surgical beds, 16 critical care beds, six pediatric beds and eight NICU beds. All patient rooms will be private.

Sustainable features include highly insulated walls, solar reflective roof, low-E glass, a high-efficiency HVAC system, low volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in paints, coating, sealants and composite wood products, drought-resistant plantings and a drip irrigation system. The pavilion is a concrete building with an auger cast pile foundation. The exterior will be brick, EIFS and curtain wall.

Johnny Ryall Apr 22, 2010 3:12 PM

Lucite gets 15-year tax abatement
Memphis Business Journal - by Andy Ashby Staff writer

The Memphis and Shelby County Industrial Development Board (IDB) awarded a 15-year retention PILOT to Lucite International Inc., which is considering up to $135 million in improvements to its Memphis facilities. The company, which designs, develops and manufactures acrylic items, is planning to invest $90 million modernizing its manufacturing facility at 2665 Fite Road and improving its North American headquarters at 7275 Goodlett Farms Parkway. The company also could invest an additional $45 million in capital improvements over a five-year period.

The PILOT will save the company $6.6 million in taxes. The company will still pay $2.2 million in taxes not covered under the PILOT over the next 15 years. Lucite International would have to keep 200 jobs under the PILOT. The company’s annual wages are $89,531 without benefits, $129,463 with benefits. The IDB determined this investment would have a 15-year economic impact of $260.5 million in employment payroll, employee wage taxes, property taxes received and construction taxes.

The IDB also made an initial approval of Christ Community Health Services Inc.’s industrial revenue bond for its 16,600-square-foot administration building at 2595 Central. The organization will appear before the board next month for final approval. The organization would use savings from the bond to help fund future expansions and improvements to existing facilities. The company is considering expansions in North Memphis and South Memphis.

The board also made its PILOT application shorter and easier for companies. Sharon Younger, president of economic development consulting firm Younger Associates LLC, made the recommendations, which included removing questions no longer relevant to the program and redundancies.

Johnny Ryall Apr 22, 2010 3:13 PM

BNSF dedicates new intermodal facility, calls it world's most modern
The Commercial Appeal | By Wayne Risher

The northward view from atop one of the 90-foot-high cranes shows part of BNSF's sprawling new intermodal yard. It has been in operation since late last year and has three times the lift capacity of the old site.
http://media.commercialappeal.com/me...oad2_t607.jpeg Photo by Dave Darnell

BNSF Railway on Wednesday dedicated a $200 million intermodal facility that is expected to drive profits for Warren Buffett's railroad and generate income for Memphians for decades to come. Cranes run on electricity instead of diesel, making the new BNSF yard a cleaner place. Heavy use of technology moves cargo faster than at any other such facility. Railroad, government and economic-development officials celebrated completion of a seven-year effort leading to what BNSF says is the most modern facility of its kind in the world. The intermodal hub at 4814 Lamar is BNSF's supersized replacement for the old Tennessee Yards off Shelby Drive and Harvard Yards in Marion, Ark. Sprawling along Lamar from South Perkins to Shelby Drive with 90-foot-tall cranes forming a new skyline, the facility handles cargo containers that move by rail, road and ocean. Wal-Mart is the biggest single customer of goods shipped in the containers, while trucking company J.B. Hunt is the single biggest over-the-road mover. The facility has been fully operational since late last year, shortly after Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway group bought the country's second-largest railroad for $34 billion. The Memphis yard represents BNSF's largest single capital investment in at least five years and one of the city's largest private investments in recent years, said Vann Cunningham, BNSF assistant vice president of economic development. It tripled the site's capacity, to more than 600,000 container movements a year, and could push it past 1 million lifts with some tweaking. That is enough to serve BNSF's needs for decades, Cunningham said.

It is heavy on technology, such as biometric thumbprint readers to identify truck drivers, cameras and scanners to identify incoming trucks, and a GPS system that tracks every rail car, truck and container on the yard. That adds up to faster processing of cargo in less space than any other intermodal facility in the world, at least until the next one opens. "What we're doing on 185 acres would take roughly twice as much acreage under the old ways of doing intermodal," said John Lanigan, BNSF executive vice president and chief marketing officer. Vaughn Short, vice president of intermodal operations and network management for J.B. Hunt Transport Inc., said the facility is greener and more trucker-friendly. Trucks can come and go in about 25 minutes, compared to an hour at older facilities. "It's all about velocity in the trucking business," Short said. Lanigan invited the dedication crowd to "notice how clear the air is" over the facility. The cranes are powered by electricity, rather than diesel, and the site is optimized to reduce internal movement of containers and pollution-causing idling by backed-up trucks.

Mike Wilmoth's company wouldn't be in Memphis without it. Wilmoth is terminal manager for CMI Freight-Trans Inc. and Steel Wheel Transfer Inc., a Chicago-based intermodal shipper for the metals industry. "CMI/Steel Wheel basically relocated its operation to Memphis because of this facility being expanded to the point it is," Wilmoth said. "We are moving our freight through here faster because of the state-of-the-art facility." Dexter Muller, senior vice president, community development for the Greater Memphis Chamber, said the facility is an economic development official's dream. "Some guys are mesmerized looking at a Monet or a Van Gogh," Muller said. "Economic development guys like looking at big orange cranes." "We intend to take advantage of it, and we look forward to working with you to make it an enormous success for the railroad and the city," Muller added.

Johnny Ryall Apr 23, 2010 6:25 PM

CCC: Downtown Memphis condo sales rebound in first quarter
Memphis Business Journal - by Andy Ashby

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The Center City Commission’s Downtown Condo Report shows there were 40 condominiums sold in Downtown Memphis in first quarter 2010, almost double last year’s opening quarter. There were 149 units sold for full-year 2009, starting with 22 units in the first quarter. “I would like to think it represents some stabilization in pricing and signs, however small, of an economic upturn,” Jeff Sanford, president of the Center City Commission said. “We’ve seen some price fluctuations over the past year and a half, but now prices are settling down and becoming more realistic for this time and place in the economy.” For the first two quarters of 2009, there were 45 condos sold, which the report attributes to a range of economic factors, including financial market instability and a decrease in credit and financing options. The third and fourth quarter 2009 netted 104 condo sales. The report states this spike was fueled by real estate auction sales.

Sanford thinks this solid first quarter of condo sales is a good sign, not only for Downtown but for the overall Memphis economy. “I think Downtown condo sales will be a bellwether for local economic improvement because I hold fast to the idea that interest in living Downtown has never abated, only the financing to make it possible has evaporated during the recession,” Sanford says. There are currently 178 condos actively listed in the 38103 ZIP code for an average price of $252,503 according to the Memphis Area Association of Realtors’ Multiple Listing Service. There are three condos listed for more than $1 million. The next highest condo is listed for $575,000. Without those three $1 million-plus listings, the average condo on the market is priced at $231,409.

Johnny Ryall Apr 23, 2010 6:25 PM

Incentives await new development
$2 million available for Downtown revitalization
Memphis Business Journal - by Andy Ashby

http://assets.bizjournals.com/story_...6211-0-0-1.jpg ALAN HOWELL | LEE SWETS | MBJ

The Center City Development Corp., a division of the Center City Commission, has awarded $473,208 through retail and office tenant incentives since beginning the programs in late 2008. It currently has $2 million still available for these programs, which many believe are necessary to spark Downtown commercial revitalization efforts. So far there have been six new retail forgivable loans worth $212,460, eight existing retail forgivable loans worth $188,305, four office occupancy grants for $37,500 and three facade improvement grants for $34,943. Art Under A Hot Tin Roof at 117 S. Main was awarded the first incentives, a $35,000 retail forgivable loan and $5,800 facade grant, in February 2009.

A forgivable loan is a 0% interest loan that a business pays back in monthly installments. At the end of each year, the money is refunded back to the business. “It is to help influence someone to open up their business Downtown instead of out East,” says Lisa Brumleve, manager of business recruitment and retention for the Center City Commission. “Downtown is more challenging to open a business in and the retail forgivable loan is set up to make it easier.”

The CCDC is a non-profit entity with nine-member volunteer board that promotes development Downtown. It draw funds for these incentives from the Center City Revenue Finance Corp., which is funded primarily from fees related to payment-in-lieu-of-taxes abatements. When the organization gives tax abatements, the beneficiary pays a fee, which is 1% of the project cost. A tenant must have a five-year lease to be eligible for incentives and the loan total is capped at $40,000. “At the end of five years, it basically turns into a grant because you’re done paying in and we’ve given it all back to you,” Brumleve says. Jim Street, the Center City Commission’s chief financial officer, says business owners give a personal guarantee for these loans in case the business fails. “If they default on the loan, we’ll call the loan and get a judgment against them for the unpaid balance,” Street says.

The personal guarantee allows the organization to get money not just from the business, but from the business owner or any guarantor who vouched for them to get the loan. The CCDC hasn’t had a company fail on these loans yet. Although CCDC doesn’t dictate what the loan is used for, the business owner has to let the organization know how the money will be used. The loan application does require a detailed business plan, as well as a five-year pro forma financial plan. “People can’t just come in with a two-page business plan which says what their dream business is,” Brumleve says. “We have to see how they plan to maintain their business. It needs to be a very well thought-out dream.”

The CCDC started the forgivable loan program for existing businesses because of the economy’s downturn. It was also meant to offset the tightening credit markets. An existing business owner is required to show how the funds will improve the health of their business. Also, Memphis-based business consulting firm alt.Consulting monitors their business for six months. The existing retail loan program covers the whole Central Business Improvement District. Initially, the new retail forgivable loan program was solely focused on Main Street. In March, the program was expanded to include Front Street, Second and Madison up to the Edge District.

Adam Slovis, managing broker with Slovis & Associates, is representing Thompson & Co. while it considers a new office space at 85 Union. The marketing and advertising firm was awarded a $15,000 office occupancy grant on April 21. Its potential lease was helped along when the building’s owner, Union Main Holdings LLC, was awarded a $200,000 development loan by the CCDC board the same morning. These incentives aren’t just important — they’re critical and necessary when working with redeveloping older spaces, according to Slovis. “The construction and redevelopment costs are out of line with the rental rates tenants will pay and for what the banks will loan,” he says. “Downtown has mostly older buildings and they cost more to redevelop.” Rental rates Downtown have dropped over the years, which impacts redevelopment.

The average office lease rate was $14.93 per square foot at year-end 2009, down from $15.27 per square foot at year-end 2008, according to CoStar Group Inc. reports. Similarly, the average retail lease rate was $10.83 per square foot at year-end 2009, down from $11.79 at year-end 2008. “When a tenant can’t pay a market rate compared to what it costs to redevelop a property, these incentive programs are essential in filling the gap and getting these deals done,” Slovis says.

Midge McCauley is president of Downtown Works, a Washington, D.C., consulting firm that focuses on Downtown retail recruitment across the country. She says Memphis has more and better incentive programs for its Downtown than most cities in the U.S. “We often use Memphis as a model,” McCauley says. “They’re becoming more common because cities are realizing they have to take a more active role in their retail scene.” McCauley says new retailers are influenced by sales and other retailers operating in the same area. “If you don’t have co-tenancy and sales, then for someone to take the risk to come there often requires incentives,” she says. Incentives aren’t needed forever, McCauley says, but are used to get the redevelopment process started. She points to St. Louis, which had two rounds of forgivable loans for its downtown area and then stopped the program. However, that city is considering another round of incentives due to the recession, according to McCauley.

Although McCauley says Downtown Memphis is ahead of the national curve on retail incentives, there is one issue she thinks could help even more: opening Main Street to traffic. She says only a few cities, like Santa Monica, Calif., and Burlington, Vt., have been successful closing main retail streets to vehicles, but Memphis isn’t one of them. “The incentive program is going to be helpful, but what would be more helpful would be to re-open Main Street to vehicular traffic,” she says. “They’re going to hobble the growth of retail as long as they keep it closed.”


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