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Johnny Ryall Feb 11, 2010 11:32 PM

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

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

Missing: 99 Tower Place

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

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

Missing: Memphis Downtown Marriott

New u/c : Air Traffic Control Tower Complex

New u/c : The Horizon

Johnny Ryall Feb 15, 2010 6:49 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

Johnny Ryall Feb 15, 2010 6:50 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Johnny Ryall Feb 15, 2010 6:52 PM

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

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

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

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

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

Johnny Ryall Feb 15, 2010 6:53 PM

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

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

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

Johnny Ryall Feb 15, 2010 6:54 PM

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

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

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

Johnny Ryall Feb 15, 2010 6:55 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

Johnny Ryall Feb 15, 2010 7:19 PM

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

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

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

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

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

Johnny Ryall Feb 16, 2010 2:53 AM

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

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

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

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

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

Johnny Ryall Feb 17, 2010 4:28 AM

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

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

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

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

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

Johnny Ryall Feb 18, 2010 4:38 PM

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

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

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

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

Johnny Ryall Feb 19, 2010 5:00 PM

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

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

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

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

kingchef Feb 20, 2010 7:58 PM


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

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

Missing: 99 Tower Place

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

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

Missing: Memphis Downtown Marriott

New u/c : Air Traffic Control Tower Complex

New u/c : The Horizon

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

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

kingchef Feb 20, 2010 8:03 PM


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

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

Missing: 99 Tower Place

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

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

Missing: Memphis Downtown Marriott

New u/c : Air Traffic Control Tower Complex

New u/c : The Horizon

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

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

Johnny Ryall Feb 21, 2010 6:12 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Johnny Ryall Feb 21, 2010 8:08 PM

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

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

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

Grant recipients include:

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

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

Johnny Ryall Feb 22, 2010 5:29 PM

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

Woodruff-Fontaine House Photo: Lance Murphey

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

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

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

Johnny Ryall Feb 23, 2010 2:52 AM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Johnny Ryall Feb 24, 2010 2:00 AM

Memphis mayor Wharton provides Fairgrounds update
Memphis Business Journal

Rendering of the proposed 'great lawn'

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

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

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

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

Johnny Ryall Feb 25, 2010 6:08 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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