Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Grassroots Campaign Launches to Attract Amazon HQ2 to Memphis

Posted By on Wed, Oct 11, 2017 at 2:47 PM

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A coalition of community organizations is launching a campaign to help lure Amazon HQ2 to Memphis.

The grassroots campaign, Memphis Delivers, is designed to support Memphis' response to Amazon's public request for proposal (RFP) by  illustrating Memphis' value for Amazon HQ2 through digital channels with the hashtag #MemphisDelivers.

The campaign, spearheaded by creative consultant firm DCA, will kick off Wednesday, Oct. 11 with lighting the Big River Crossing bridge in Amazon's orange. Leaders of the campaign hope this will encourage other attractions, associations, and individuals to do similar activities before Amazon's RFP deadline on Oct. 19.


“Today we are extending an open invitation to organizations, companies, individuals and Memphians in our community to share how they believe Memphis delivers on Amazon’s request,” Doug Carpenter of DCA said.


“While Memphis is not able to compete with some cities on a ‘check the box’ criteria, we do offer a very unique and appealing environment that is especially appreciated once experienced. Simply stated: You can’t put us in a box, but Memphis delivers.”


Other organizations participating in the campaign include Choose901, I Love Memphis blog, Memphis Medical District Collaborative, Crosstown Concourse, Memphis Grizzlies, New Memphis and the Downtown Memphis Commission (DMC).

The DMC will campaign by using guerrilla marketing with existing signage, murals, and structures.

“We see Downtown as the soul of our city and that soul is filled with Memphis pride," DMC's vice president of marketing and community events, Penelope Huston said. "We will encourage all of our downtown and Medical District neighbors to use their enthusiasm and creativity to show the energy that Memphis delivers."


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Lake County Murder Conviction Overturned, Weirich Involved

Posted By on Wed, Oct 11, 2017 at 1:28 PM

Weirich
  • Weirich
A murder conviction in Lake County has been overturned due, in part, to the actions of Shelby County District Attorney General (SCDAG) Amy Weirich, whose actions, along with some others, were “inexplicable and improper.”

In 2011, the Lake County Grand Jury indicted Joshua Hunter Bargery in the murders of Clarence Shell, 68, and his wife, Sue Shell, 70. Both had been stabbed to death. Their home on Owl Hoot Road had been ransacked and some jewelry and guns were missing.

At trial four years later, attorneys for Bargery argued that while he was there the night they were killed, the deed was actually carried out by three members of the Mexikanemi, a Mexican gang.

Bargery’s attorneys called upon Memphis Police Department (MPD) lieutenant Anthony Carter as an expert witness. Through his work with the MPD and a drug task force, Carter had front-line experience and knowledge of gangs operating throughout West Tennessee, the attorneys said. In a statement issued at a recent hearing, Carter said he was the Assistant Commander for the Multi-Agency Gang Unit for West Tennessee.

Carter agreed to testify for the defense at Bargery’s trial about gang activity in Lake County. However, he rescinded that offer after he said he felt pressure from his commander to forego the trial.

“Well, what (the commander) told — came to me and said was that he had been contacted — he didn’t say who contacted him, but he had been contacted in regards to me coming and testifying,” Carter said in court. “And my immediate supervisor first approached me, and then my chief had a conversation with me.
“And I just felt like, because I’ve been in this department for (30) years at the time, that I didn’t want to have any conflicts. I haven’t had any problems, I didn’t want to have any now. So it just — just took the steam out of me even wanting to get involved.”

That initial contact with Carter’s bosses came from, according to court documents, SCDAG Weirich. C. Phillip Bivens. the District Attorney General serving Dyer and Lake County, called Weirich about Carter’s involvement with the case.

During her testimony about that call, Weirich said, “I know (Carter), that’s unusual,” according to court papers. She said it was “unusual that he would be testifying on behalf of the defense as an expert in the area of gangs, unusual that he would be testifying in a court other than Shelby County, just, the circumstances were unusual.”

She told General Bivens that she would “find out what’s going on,” according court documents. Weirich then contacted Toney Armstrong, then-director of the MPD, to “give him a heads-up” about Carter testifying for the defense in the case.

For this and other reasons, the Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, overturned the trial court’s conviction and remanded the case for a new trial.
“At the request of the DA handling the case in Lake County, I simply made the Memphis Police Director aware that one of his officers was going to testify in another jurisdiction for the defense in a gang case,” Weirich said in a statement Wednesday. “I never talked to the officer.”

In his ruling, Judge Robert L. Holloway Jr. said Carter’s testimony would have aided the defense.

“Finally, the state’s interference with the defendant’s gang expert, Lieutenant Carter, who had agreed to testify that the manner in which the victims were killed, was consistent with the modus operandi of the Mexikanemi, was inexplicable and improper,” Holloway wrote. “His testimony would have offered further support for the Defendant’s testimony that he did not kill the victims.”

Construction of $12.5M Housing Project Near COGIC Headquarters Begins

Posted By on Wed, Oct 11, 2017 at 12:56 PM

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Construction broke ground Wednesday on the $12.5 million Mason Village Project, a community of 77 townhouses adjacent to the Mason Temple, the Church of God and Christ (COGIC) world headquarters in Memphis.


The 6.3 acre development along E.H. Crump and Fourth, scheduled to be completed by July 2018, will be designated for low-income households with children.


The project is a partnership of the COGIC leadership, John Stanley real estate development company, and the city’s Division of Housing and Community Development, who provided $4 million of funding for the project.


The townhomes will be 2- and 3-bedroom units spread over 30 buildings. There will also be a “community” building, which will house a state-of-the-art computer lab where community computer classes will take place. The community center will also have a gym and spaces for parties and lounging.


CEO of John Stanley, Saki Middleton said helping people be healthy and educated is a major component of the project.


Middleton added that the project aims to provide large families with adequate, affordable living spaces, serving families whose incomes are between $20,000 and $40,000 annually. The rent each family pays will be based on their income and the size of their household and will average between $600 and $1000 a month.


However, Middleton said no household will spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent.


Mayor Jim Strickland said he thinks the Mason Village will show “the community we care" and “provide safe, healthy, affordable housing to people who otherwise might not be able to afford it.”


“Our destiny in this city to me is in our core city,” Strickland said. “Today we celebrate one more meaningful project that will help us reach our goal of a vibrant core Memphis.”



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Monday, October 9, 2017

Forrest Statue Discussion Tops Historical Commission's Friday Agenda

Posted By on Mon, Oct 9, 2017 at 3:19 PM

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An update on the city's waiver petition for the Nathan Bedford Forrest statue is slated as the Tennessee Historical Commission's (THC) first agenda item at its meeting this Friday.

As THC chair told city officials late last month, the commission won't vote on the waiver, but there will be allotted time for public comments concerning the Forrest waiver and consideration by the commission of holding a special session to hear the request. 

Mayor Jim Strickland, Memphis City Council attorney Allan Wade, and City of Memphis attorney Bruce McMullen have said they will attend the meeting to make an oral request for the commission to hear the waiver petition.

The mayor also plans to bring along about 50 local faith leaders and businessmen to make their case for the statue's removal.

Leader of local activist efforts to remove the city's Confederate statues, Tami Sawyer says she will also attend the meeting and speak on behalf of the #takeemdown901 supporters.

The THC meeting is scheduled for Friday at 9:00 a.m. EST in Athens.

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Time for 20 Under 30 Nominations

Posted By on Mon, Oct 9, 2017 at 10:18 AM


Now Accepting Nominations for the Flyer's 20<30 Class of 2018

The Flyer is seeking nominations from our readers for potential candidates for our 20<30 Class of 2018. Candidates must be no older than 30 on January 1, 2018. We're looking to find representatives of the city's best and brightest young people. Send a brief bio/summary of activities and a photo to Bruce VanWyngarden at brucev@memphisflyer.com. Use "20<30 Nomination" in your subject header. Deadline for nominations is December 1, 2017. The issue date for next year's 20<30 will be January 25, 2018.
20 Under 30 Class of 2017 - JUSTIN FOX BURKS
  • Justin Fox Burks
  • 20 Under 30 Class of 2017

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Friday, October 6, 2017

Ruling Cracks the Door on Drivers License Issue

Posted By on Fri, Oct 6, 2017 at 2:55 PM

Just City's executive director Josh Spickler calls the policy "failed" and "destructive." - JUST CITY
  • Just City
  • Just City's executive director Josh Spickler calls the policy "failed" and "destructive."

Two Tennessee drivers will get their licenses back thanks to a judge’s ruling on Thursday, and the case could pave the way for thousands more to, once again, get legally behind the wheel.

Just City, the Memphis nonprofit criminal justice reform agency, and other national and state groups, recently filed a class action lawsuit to stop Tennessee’s policy of suspending drivers licenses because drivers could not pay their traffic tickets.

The practice criminalizes poverty and disproportionately affects African Americans, according to Just City. In Tennessee, African-American drivers are four times more likely to lose their licenses for not paying traffic tickets than white drivers, Just City said.

The groups asked a federal judge in Nashville Thursday to immediately stop the practice and to re-instate the licenses of about 250,000 Tennesseans who had their licenses pulled because they could not pay fines and fees associated with their tickets.

Nearly 20 percent of those drivers with suspended licenses are in Shelby County. Nearly 85 percent of those here are African American.

The case was heard in the U.S District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee by Judge Aleta A. Trauger. Her ruling ordered state officials to reinstate drivers licenses of Fred Robinson and Ashley Sprague, two plaintiffs named in the suit.

Josh Spickler, Just City’s executive director, said the ruling maybe cracks the door to eventually ending the practice and getting back those suspended licenses.

The two sides in the case will have two weeks to research and bring their arguments back before Judge Trauger.

City's Program Aimed to Shape Young Men Returns

Posted By on Fri, Oct 6, 2017 at 12:07 PM

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The city's six-week program created to empower young men, Manhood University will resume for another session on Oct. 7.

In partnership with leaders of the faith community, the city will provide six Saturday classes for young men, inspiring them to build up their communities, find jobs, and strengthen relationships.

"This program cultivates men by engaging, encouraging, and empowering them to become more productive citizens," Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said. "Manhood University works to connect the community, churches, corporate partners, and government to build a program that aids in empowering men."

Participants will learn financial literacy, conflict resolution, job readiness, goal-setting, time management, and communication skills.

The mayor's special assistant for community affairs, Ken Moody said the lack of opportunities for men in the city is why the program is necessary.

"We know when there is a strong man in the house, when there is a strong man in the community, there's more stability," Moody said. "To see the lack of opportunities provided for men in the Greater Memphis area did something to me. When I first talked to the mayor about this program, we agreed it's programs like this that changes lives."

Registration for the classes is on the Manhood University website.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

University of Memphis to Begin Constructing Land Bridge & More by Year's End

Posted By on Thu, Oct 5, 2017 at 3:33 PM

Rendering of proposed amphitheater, land bridge, and parking lot - UNIVERSITY OF MEMPHIS
  • University of Memphis
  • Rendering of proposed amphitheater, land bridge, and parking lot



The University of Memphis will begin constructing a land bridge, amphitheater, and parking garage by the end of the year as a part of its $66 million Master Campus Plan.


Construction of the Alumni Mall Amphitheater, land bridge over Southern, and five-story parking garage will total around $36 million.


Another piece of the master plan kicking off soon is the Scheidt Family Music Center, for which the university has received over $40 million in state and private funding to construct. The 40,000-square-foot center will be located on Central and will be equipped with a larger performance space than the current center.


The Patterson Avenue Realignment project is slated to begin in 2018. In partnership with the city, the university will realign and improve the Patterson and Southern intersection over the railroad tracks.


Originally planned to cost about $60 million, the university’s new recreation center is now budgeted for $30 million.


The 74,000-square-foot Center for Health & Wellness will sit to the north of the existing recreation center and will have programming that focuses on fitness, wellness, and academics.


The existing center will undergo renovation and construction on the new building is set to begin in a year.


Other projects in the queue include a new student plaza, basketball and football training facilities, and a teaching kitchen, which will be inside of the Center for Health & Wellness.



New Team Will Lead Zoo Parking Lot Project

Posted By on Thu, Oct 5, 2017 at 2:19 PM

SAVETHEGREENSWARD.ORG
  • savethegreensward.org

Leaders with the city, Memphis Zoo, the Overton Park Conservancy, and Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare will help guide the next phase of a project to expand the zoo’s parking lot and end Greensward parking.

On Thursday, city leaders announced the lineup for a new advisory team that will ensure public input is present on the expansion project. The team will meet in “the coming weeks,” according to a news release from Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland’s office.

Here are the team members:

• Jack Stevenson, city of Memphis, Division of Engineering, project manager

• Mike Flowers, city of Memphis, Division of Parks and Neighborhoods

• Kyle Veazey, city of Memphis, Communications

• Chuck Brady, Memphis Zoo

• John Conroy, Memphis Zoo

• Tina Sullivan, Overton Park Conservancy

• Eric Barnes, Overton Park Conservancy

• Anne Pitts, Levitt Shell

• Mary Wilder, Overton Park Alliance

• Cato Johnson, Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare

This panel will learn about the design process, talk about the parameters of the design, and review three concept plans. Those plans will be posted to the the city’s website after that first meeting. Then, the public will be asked for feedback on those plans.

Feedback from the public, advisory team members, and city officials will be given back to designers with Powers Hill, the agency hired for the lot’s design. Then, the firm will update those designs with that feedback.

The next time the advisory team meets, it will pick one concept plan and that plan will be presented to the public two-to-three weeks later.

City leaders will collect feedback from the public throughout the initial design phase. Residents should send their thoughts on the project to zooparkinginfo@caissaps.com.

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Memphis Bids for Amazon's HQ2, Will Offer $50M Incentive

Posted By on Thu, Oct 5, 2017 at 12:26 PM

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The Memphis City Council paved the way for the city to pursue Amazon’s second headquarters (HQ2) Tuesday by approving an incentive package for the company.


The council voted to offer a cash incentive of up to $50 million to the company if they build their second headquarters in Memphis. For each job created, the city will give Amazon $5,000 over a 15-year period.


Additionally, the council authorized the Economic Development Growth Engine for Memphis and Shelby County (EDGE) to offer Amazon a tax break to build its new headquarters. EDGE is authorized to provide a 20-year pay-in-lieu-of-taxes or tax-increment financing incentive, but now can seek state approval to extend Amazon’s incentive for an additional 10 years.


The city will also commit to investing $10 million in public transportation, the airport, and workforce readiness efforts.


Planned to span over 8 million square feet and valued at $5 billion, the secondary headquarters could bring as many as 50,000 well-paid full-time jobs to the city.


Amazon is accepting applications from interested cities through Oct. 19 and plans to begin constructing phase one of HQ2 in 2019.


Memphis is one of over 50 cities in the U.S. and Canada vying to be the home of Amazon’s secondary headquarters, according to Forbes. Many of these entities are offering Amazon tax breaks, abatements, and other incentives:  


-New Jersey plans to give Amazon a $5 billion tax break.

-Danbury, Connecticut will offer real estate and personal property tax deferrals.

-The University of Texas at Dallas is offering Amazon 100 acres of land for its headquarters.


Other cities are getting creative with their wooing:


-Birmingham has placed three large Amazon delivery boxes around the city.

-Georgia offered to form a new city called Amazon.

-Officials in Tucson, Arizona gifted the company with a 21-foot cactus.




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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Just City Asks for Immediate Re-Instatement of Drivers Licenses

Posted By on Wed, Oct 4, 2017 at 3:56 PM

Just City's executive director Josh Spickler calls the policy "failed" and "destructive." - JUST CITY
  • Just City
  • Just City's executive director Josh Spickler calls the policy "failed" and "destructive."

Just City and others asked a federal judge Wednesday to make state officials immediately re-instate the drivers licenses of some 250,000 Tennessee drivers whose licenses are currently suspended because they couldn't pay traffic tickets.

Last week, Just City, the Memphis nonprofit criminal justice reform agency, and other national and state groups, filed a class action lawsuit to stop the practice.

The practice criminalizes poverty and disproportionately affects African Americans, according to Just City. In Tennessee, African-American drivers are four times more likely to lose their licenses for not paying traffic tickets than white drivers, Just City said.

The suit was filed in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee in Nashville.
It names David Purkey, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner, as the primary defendant but also the court clerks in Rutherford and Wilson Counties and the clerks of Lebanon and Mt. Juliet.

We caught up with Just City's executive director Josh Spickler before he left for the hearing in Nashville.

Memphis Flyer: What are you asking of the court and why?

Josh Spickler: The attorneys in this case have asked for immediate relief for the plaintiffs. That immediate relief is the re-instatement of their drivers licenses.

There’s a hearing to hear evidence about that, whether the (United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee) in Nashville will order the state to reinstate those driver licenses.

MF: Is this something that could happen?

JS: We believe they are entitled to it. The framework the state has established and continues to pursue around drivers licenses, we believe to be unconstitutional and lacking in due process.

These people are being unduly punished by not being able to move about their communities for medical care, for school, for work, for family purposes. So, we believe the court should do this because there is really no other relief right now.

MF: I’m sorry. I didn’t want to make it sound like it couldn’t happen.

JS: It would be in some ways unprecedented. But it’s also unprecedented to have a quarter of a million people lose their license simply because of nonpayment.

These are bad policies and behind bad policies, there are clear damages to people, to Tennesseans. It’s not necessarily a common thing for this to happen or for people to even ask for this, but we think it’s that big of a deal. It’s that important.

MF: People are going to say, “these people got tickets. Didn’t pay. They’ve done wrong and they need to pay the fine.” What would you tell those folks?

JS: That’s absolutely right. You have reposnsbilities as a driver, as a citizen of this state, that you have to meet before you are allowed the privilege — and it is a privilege to drive on our streets and highways.

But what we’ve seen, though, there is no room for anyone who does not have the ability to pay.

So, were there mandatory payment plans in all 95 counties, were there hearings being afforded to people who can’t pay quickly and easily on why they can’t pay, then that’s a different story.

But what we have across the state are licenses being suspended without those things, without those safeguards. I think that’s the difference.

Of course, people should be expected to pay their obligations. We have an obligation to make sure the people who are driving are duly licensed.

But what we have instead is something that punishes you just because you’re poor and and for no other reason and that disproportionately affects people of color, we found.
MF: Talk about that last part a bit more.

JS: What we found is that people of color are four times more likely to lose their license for these reasons than others.

About 20 percent of the suspensions were in Shelby County and 85 percent of those were of African American drivers, when 53 percent of the population of Shelby County is African American. So, that gives you some indication of the disporporoitinate nature of these suspensions.

MF: You’ve said before that losing your license has rippling effects in the lives of these people. Can you talk about that a little?

JS: A former client of mine, his license was suspended for nonpayment and of costs that were completely unrelated to driving. They were related to a case he was on probation for, a case he had completed probation for.

He'd done everything that had been asked of him, except for the payment of some pretty substantial costs. The state suspended his license under this law we’re suing over. They sent him a notification but he'd recently moved and had a new job and moved into an apartment on his own.

He was working steadily. On his way to work, he was pulled over. The officer told him his license was suspended. They arrested him and impounded his car. He didn’t make it work that day. He didn’t make it to work for the next week while he dealt with court, getting out of jail, and getting his car out of the impound.

So, he was nearly back at square one when he was released. But he didn’t have a license. He had a truck but he couldn’t drive it. He had to figure out how to get back and forth to his job.

Usually, people in his situation continue to drive because they have to get to that job. If they don’t, they can’t eat. If they don’t, they can’t take care of their kids. If they don’t, they can’t buy their prescriptions. So, this does ripple out into all areas of their lives.

MF: That was all I had. Is there anything you want to add?
JS: We’re using the cimrinal justice system as a debt collection method for people who are behind on driving tickets. In that regard, a large portion of Shelby County’s cimrinal justice resources are dedicated to collecting debt.

That, to me, is not how we should be using this system that is designed to keep us safe and rehabilitate those who come in contact with it.

We’re using it for debt collection.

Brooks Leaders Consider Downtown Location

Posted By on Wed, Oct 4, 2017 at 3:14 PM

Proposed new site for the Brooks Museum of Art - GOOGLE MAPS
  • Google Maps
  • Proposed new site for the Brooks Museum of Art

Leaders of the Brooks Museum of Art are considering a move to a new location close to the corner of Union and Front, according to several sources.

No formal vote on the move has been taken yet by Brooks board members. However, sources have told the Flyer that the plan before them now would involve relocating the art museum to sites now occupied by Memphis Fire Station #5 at 66 South Front and, possibly, an adjacent parking garage at Union and Monroe.

It is not clear whether or not the plan would involve both buildings. It’s also not clear whether or not either of the buildings would be razed for the project.

Emily Ballew Neff, executive director at the Brooks, did not confirm nor deny the information in a statement.

“As we've stated since the beginning of this process, we are exploring options for the Brooks Museum's future," she said. "A location on the historic riverfront is certainly an exciting potential option for us to consider. We will continue to work closely with our Board, our members and other supporters, and our partners at the City of Memphis as we move towards a final decision.”
Sources said a portion of the new facility could be paid for with state dollars from a re-configured Tourist Development Zone (TDZ). City officials are now updating an existing TDZ, approved to pay for the Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid project, to include more areas around The Pinch District and the riverfront, which would include the proposed Brooks site.

Those officials will take that new plan before the Tennessee State Building Commission in December.

However, financing for a new museum would likely come from numerous sources like philanthropies, private donors, and more.

Memphis Fire Station #5 is the headquarters of the Memphis Division of Fire Services, which oversees all of the city’s 75 fire stations.

Brooks leaders announced last month that they were considering a move from Overton Park, the museum’s home for 101 years, because the museum was growing.

“However, this growth is revealing some concerning limitations about our current physical plant, which we must address,” said the museum’s executive director Emily Ballew Neff. “Visibility and accessibility are important to us, and we also need to think about how we can continue to attract important art collections to the Brooks. We do that by showing that we are a safe, secure, and worthy place to steward those legacies. We are exploring every possible option to achieve that goal.”

Brooks leaders said they would work closely with stakeholders in Overton Park, the Overton Park Conservancy, and the Memphis City Council.

“The Brooks Museum’s ultimate responsibility is to our collection and the 5,000 years of art that it represents; our supportive members and lovers of art everywhere; and the people of Memphis,” said board president Deborah Craddock. “If and when we elect to relocate, we will do everything in our power to ensure that our current museum facilities enjoy a productive and positive next use that benefits Overton Park and the entire community.”

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Tax Breaks Could Bring Apartments, Offices to Cooper-Young

Posted By on Wed, Oct 4, 2017 at 12:50 PM

The 25-unit apartment building  proposed to be built close to the corner of Cooper and Walker. - CENTER CITY FINANCE REVENUE CORP.
  • Center City Finance Revenue Corp.
  • The 25-unit apartment building proposed to be built close to the corner of Cooper and Walker.

Two projects before Downtown officials next week could bring more people to live and work in Cooper-Young.

Apartment building


A developer wants an 11-year tax break worth $542,352 to build a $3.2 million, 25-unit apartment building on a vacant lot in Cooper-Young.

Focal Point Investments has asked the Center City Finance Development Corp. (a board of the Downtown Memphis Commission) to grant the payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) deal during its next meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 10.

The building would stand on the lot between the former Galloway United Methodist Church and the parking lot behind the Young Avenue Deli.

Here’s how the applicant describes the project:

“The building will feature 25 studio apartments, each with 550 square feet of space.

The portion of the building facing Cooper will feature nine apartments on three floors, while the remaining 16 apartments will occupy four floors behind the Cooper-facing portion.

The three ground-floor apartments facing Cooper will be configured as flexible spaces that can be used for retail, office, or live-work space.

Each unit will feature modern open floor plans and most of the units will have 10-foot loft ceilings. The site plan includes 19 parking spaces on the south and west sides of the property, as well as four exterior bike racks.”

The CCRFC staff likes the project. For one thing, the site is now generating annual city and county property taxes of $2,345. With the PILOT in place, the site’s owners would make annual payments (instead of regular taxes) of $18,780, a “701 percent increase.”

The staff report says the project would advance the DMC’s strategic goals in fighting blight, accelerating real estate development, and spurring economic development. The CCRFC, once only concerned with Downtown projects, recently adjusted its PILOT program to include Midtown projects with residential components.

New offices for archimania
The proposed site of new offices for archimania. - GOOGLE MAPS
  • Google Maps
  • The proposed site of new offices for archimania.

A local real estate company wants an 11-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes deal worth $307,745 to renovate two buildings on Cooper in a $2.8 million project.

Filament LLC, a real estate company owned by two members of archimania, have asked the Center City Revenue Finance Corp. (CCRFC) for the tax break, noting the project would not be “economically viable” and could not attract financing without it.

The CCRFC is slated to vote on the tax break deal during its next meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 10.

The archimania architectural firm is now based in South Main but Filament partners Barry Yoakum and Todd Walker said the company would move to the updated space on Cooper once it was completed.

The other building on the site would be opened up to a “creditworthy office tenant.” The partners also want to build six rental apartments behind that building at 673 Cooper. They would range in size from 425 square feet to 590 square feet.
Drawings show what the outside of proposed project on Cooper. - CENTER CITY FINANCE CORP.
  • Center City Finance Corp.
  • Drawings show what the outside of proposed project on Cooper.

Construction on the project would start in late December, the applicant said, if the PILOT is approved. Construction would be completed by spring or summer of next year.

CCRFC staff said annual PILOT payments on the project ($31,486) would be 42 percent higher than the taxes the site is generating currently ($22,160).

Approving the project would strengthen the city’s urban core, the applicant said, and that “the time has come to develop an Innovation District.”

“Attracting the type and scale of mixed-use developments long absent from Midtown, this Innovation District strategy, generally, and our proposed development, specifically, will support the CCRFC’s goals by increasing the number of people living, working, and playing in the urban core, especially by increasing commercial property values throughout the urban core, further accelerating commercial and residential development,” reads the project’s application.

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Memphis Pets of the Week (Oct. 5-11)

Posted By on Wed, Oct 4, 2017 at 10:21 AM

Each week, the Flyer will feature adoptable dogs and cats from Memphis Animal Services. All photos are credited to Memphis Pets Alive. More pictures can be found on the Memphis Pets Alive Facebook page.

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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

City Officials: All Legal Remedies Will be Exhausted Before Confederate Statues Come Down

Posted By on Tue, Oct 3, 2017 at 2:01 PM

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A panel of two attorneys, a state senator, and a local activist discussed the legal issues surrounding the removal the city's Confederate statues Tuesday at the University of Memphis School of Law.

One of the attorneys present was Memphis City Council attorney Allan Wade. He told the crowd that the current legal question surrounding the removal of the statues is whether to take action first and then ask for forgiveness in court or to ask for permission and then take action. He said the city has evaluated the likelihood of success for both options and it seems less likely that the courts will have forgiveness if the administration does not cover all of its bases first.


For this reason, Wade said the city will pursue all legal remedies with the ultimate option under the law being the courts. But he says the administration has to exhaust all efforts before going to court. 


“We can be radical, we can take them down, and we can fight in court, but I think the courts will look down on us if we don't follow process,” Wade said. 


But activist and founder of the #takeemdown901 movement Tami Saywer said the Heritage Protection Acts of 2013 and 2016, the legislation hindering the removal of the statues, is unjust and asked why can't the city have the courage to go around the law and do "what's right."

City of Memphis attorney Bruce McMullen said he understands Sawyer's sentiment, but the city administration has chosen to approach the issue legally.

"There is a process in which we solve disputes in this country and that's through the legal process," McMullen said. "The mayor cannot order someone to break the law to meet a certain end. The mayor took a vow. He has to follow the law."

State senator and law professor Lee Harris added that there are other legal actions that elected city officials could be taking to put pressure on the Tennessee General Assembly and governor to move. Some ways to do that he said, are to stop maintaining the parks housing the statues or to close the parks completely. He anticipates the national attention those actions would bring will make politicians in Nashville bend.

Harris adds that some of the penalties for taking action to cover up or remove the statues have been exaggerated. "We need to dial back the overstatements," he said.

McMullen maintained that the next step is for him, attorney Wade, and Mayor Jim Strickland to attend the Tennessee Historical Commission's Oct. 13th meeting to make an oral request for the waiver petition to be heard. He said the administration will follow this all the way to the supreme court.




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