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JUN E 18-24, 2008, VOL . 1 , ISS UE 1

Through The Roof FHA loans are way up in Shelby County. page 7

Good to be Green

Bad press

Firing squad

Home Depot and Habitat for Humanity are joining to build more green homes.

Another group has filed suit against FedEx over alleged employment practices.

MCS interim Superintendent Dan Ward fired the district’s Louise Mercuro in recent weeks. Why?

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Developer Buys Jackson Ave. Retail Center For $1 Million Joseph Sy’s plan to bring a flea market to Jackson Avenue in North Memphis has moved a step closer to reality with his purchase of a 17,686-square-foot retail center at 3972 Jackson Ave. Sy, a Nevada developer with various real estate interests across the country, paid $1 million for the center, built in 1970. Sy told The Daily News last year he planned to create a combination flea market and farmers’ market in that area. Sy, who formerly owned a home in Memphis, was unavailable for comment. Acting as trustee of the Anthony Joseph Campos Sy Trust dated June 26, 2007, Sy bought the property from MIP Properties, Craig S. Mednikow and Stacy P. Mednikow. Sy financed the purchase with a $380,000 loan from the Mednikows. The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2008 appraisal is $355,600. The retail center sits on 1.58 acres, which is near some other property Sy has acquired in the last few years. In 2005 he bought 28.9 acres on the northwest side of Jackson Avenue, south of the Jackson–Interstate 40 interchange. And in April he bought a nearby residential property, at 3843 S. Brighton Road.

Residential Numbers Down in May

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Another month, another dropoff in residential sales as May saw a 30.2 percent decline in home sales for Shelby County, according to the latest data from real estate information company Chandler Reports, www.chandlerreports.com. Just 1,329 sales were recorded during the month, nearly a third less than the 1,903 recorded in May 2007. The average sales price of $148,677 was a 7.6 percent decrease from the average sales price of $159,901 in May 2007, although the average square footage of 1,912 was up slightly from 1,896 a year ago. The total sales volume for the month was $197.6 million, down from $304.3 million in May 2007. May 2008 also fell short of the previous month by 12.2 percent. There were 1,513 home sales averaging $143,508 and totaling $217.1 million in April. Year to date, home sales are off 22 percent. There have been 6,943 homes sold through May 31, a decline from the 8,902 homes sold through the same period last year. Also, the average sales price for 2008 is $135,972, an 11.9 percent dip from $152,139 last year. The total dollar volume to date is $944.1 million, down from the $1.4 billion during the same period in 2007. The top ZIP code for number of sales in May was Frayser’s 38127 with 93, at an average $27,993. The top ZIP for average sales price was Eads’ 38028 with five sales averaging $1 million. Meanwhile, condominium sales for the month dipped 27.7 percent year over year, with just 68 condo sales in May compared to 94 in May 2007. However, the average sales price increased to $196,002 from $162,926. Year-to-date condo sales are down 22.9 percent, with 351 sales recorded through the end of May compared to 455 through the end of May 2007.

Fred’s Same-Store Sales Up 3.4 Percent in May Memphisbased discount retailer Fred’s Inc.’s same-store sales rose 3.4 percent in May, beating Wall Street analysts’ estimates, because of a rise in traffic at its stores. The rise excludes 67 stores that have been, or are being, closed. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial expected same-store sales to climb 2.8 percent. Same-store sales, or sales at stores open at least a year, is a key indicator of retailer performance since it measures growth at existing stores rather than newly opened ones. The company said for the four weeks ended May 31, total sales jumped 8 percent to $143.5 million from $132.3 million in the prior-year period. The retailer said sales from closed stores amounted to $4 million, or 3 percent of the total May sales increase. Customer traffic in the month rose 2 percent, the company added.

Fed: Home Equity Percentage Drops To New Low in Q1 The equity Americans have in their most important asset – their homes – has dropped to its lowest level since the end of World War II. Homeowners’ portion of equity slipped to 46.2 percent in the first quarter from a revised 47.5 percent in the previous quarter. That was the fifth quarter in a row below the 50 percent mark, the Federal Reserve said Thursday. The total dollar value of equity also fell for the fourth straight quarter to $9.12 trillion from $9.52 trillion in the fourth quarter, while Americans’ total mortgage debt rose to $10.6 trillion from $10.53 trillion. A homeowner’s equity is the market value of a property minus the mortgage debt. And homeowners’ percentage of equity has declined steadily – even as home values surged during the housing boom – because of a jump in cash-out refinancing, home equity loans and an increase in 100 percent financing. Experts expect equity to decline further as falling home prices erode the value of Americans’ largest asset, dragging more homeowners “upside down” on their mortgages. At the end of March, nearly 8.5 million homeowners had negative or no equity in their homes, representing more than 16 percent of all homeowners with a mortgage, according to Moody’s Economy.com Chief Economist Mark Zandi. By June 2009, he estimates that will increase to 12.2 million, or almost one out of every four homeowners with a mortgage. But to put that number in perspective, one out of every three homeowners owns their property free and clear, with no mortgage at all. Still, Zandi said, “For most, their home is their key asset. If they have no equity in their home, likely their net worth is negative too. Their entire balance sheet will be underwater.” Homeowners with no or negative equity are more likely to fall behind on their

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mortgage payments or, in frustration, mail the keys to the lender and walk away from their mortgages, a phenomenon more lenders are seeing. This will only increase foreclosures, which have been surging the last two years, and further exacerbate the housing downturn.

Southern Heritage Classic to be Televised To Military The Southern Heritage Classic, the annual football game held at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium pitting Jackson State University against Tennessee State University, will be broadcast to American troops stationed around the world. The American Forces Network will broadcast the game, in its 19th year. This year’s Southern Heritage Classic will be held Sept. 11-13, culminating with the game that Saturday. The American Forces Network broadcasts TV and radio programming in 177 countries and territories, as well as on board U.S. Navy vessels.

M.J. Edwards Expands With New Funeral Home M.J. Edwards Funeral Home Inc. has bought a vacant funeral home at 4445 Stage Road in North Memphis for $772,000 from Houston-based Service Corporation International. Operating as M.J. Edwards Hillside Chapel Inc., the company on June 1 held a grand opening for the new locale, called Stage Road Chapel. The 12,292-square-foot funeral home sits on 3.51 acres at the southeast corner of Stage Road and Beverly Hill Street. The building had been vacant for about five years, said Cedric Collins, location manager for the new M.J. Edwards property. The location made sense for M.J. Edwards Funeral Home, which has two other locations in Memphis – on Elvis Presley and Airways boulevards – plus one in Coldwater, Miss. The Stage Road Chapel allows the company, whose roots date back to 1980, to expand its footprint and fill a need in North Memphis. “The main reason for purchasing this property was because we service a lot of families in the vicinity of the north side of Memphis, and it would be more accommodating to cover the Raleigh, Frayser, Millington, Bartlett, Cordova and Arlington areas,” Collins said. “We think it’s going to be an excellent area because it’s centrally located to a lot of communities.” The home has a chapel that accommodates 350 people, as well as two staterooms, which are sitting rooms for families. Collins said the company will consider interior upgrades to the facility in due time. “Once the business grows, we are looking at expanding inside the building to make an additional two state rooms, for a total of four state rooms and the chapel,” he said. M.J. Edwards Hillside Chapel also took out a $772,000 loan from Investment Capital Corp. to finance the purchase. The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2008 appraisal is $1.4 million.

Gov. Signs Bill To Require Paper Voting Records Gov. Phil Bredesen has signed into law a measure to require a paper record for voters’ ballots in Tennessee. The law requires any voting machine bought or leased after Jan. 1 to be able to create a paper trail that could be used in recounts and random audits. A report released earlier this year by the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations showed only two of Tennessee’s 95 counties keep a paper trail of voters’ ballots. The report recommended all counties adopt the practice. Sen. Joe Haynes of Goodlettsville and Rep. Gary Moore of Joelton sponsored the “Tennessee Voter Confidence Act.” Both are Democrats.

Mascom Properties Buys Bartlett Office Building Mascom Properties LLC has paid $1.1 million for a 14,332-square-foot office building at 8039 Stage Hills Blvd. in Bartlett. The sale closed May 30. The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2008 appraisal is $1.1 million. The building, constructed in 1998, sits on 0.78 acres in Bartlett. The Stage Hills property is northwest of North Germantown and Stage roads, near St. Francis Hospital– Bartlett. The transaction also included an assignment of leases, rents and incomes on the property to Mascom Properties for the building’s tenants, which include Sylvan Learning Center. Mascom Properties financed the purchase with an $892,500 loan from Regions Bank.

Pickler Supports Leatherwood In House Primary In a recorded phone message to households i n Te n n e s s e e ’ s 7 t h Congressional District, Shelby County Board of Education chairman David Pickler has given Tom Leatherwood h i s e n d o r s e m e n t i n the Aug. 7 Republican primary to Tom Leatherwood, Shelby County register of deeds. Leatherwood is running against incumbent Marsha Blackburn in the primary for that seat. In the message, Pickler cites a need for “a congressman who looks out for us” and said “the incumbent, Marsha Blackburn, isn’t there when we need help cutting red tape in Washington.”

Governor Appoints Task Force To Save Energy Gov. Phil Bredesen has named an ad

hoc committee to develop immediate recommendations for what Tennessee should do to cut electricity use in state buildings and gas consumption in the state’s fleet of vehicles. During a meeting of his Energy Policy Task Force in Chattanooga, Bredesen named the four-member panel to identify easy ways to realize the biggest energy savings. The group will be chaired by John Noel, president of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. It also includes state Sen. Rosalind Kurita, D-Clarksville; state Rep. Les Winningham, D-Huntsville; and Vanderbilt University law professor Michael Vandenbergh. Bredesen said budget cuts in the next fiscal year shouldn’t slow the state from implementing efficiency measures to cut energy use and save money over time. With gas and energy costs rising, he said, the state needs to implement cost-effective measures to improve lighting, heating and gas mileage. “Don’t worry about the sources of funding, just focus on the best ways to cut our energy use,” Bredesen told the group. “Even in a year in which we had no money for anything new, we are still spending tens of millions of dollars on maintenance of buildings across the state.” Bredesen said the state needs to “lead by example” by improving the energy efficiency of state buildings. The state now spends more than $129 million a year on energy costs.

Wright Medical Acquires Surgical Product Line Arlington-based Wright Medical Group Inc., a global orthopedic medical device company, has acquired certain assets of Smithtown, N.Y.-based A.M. Surgical Inc., a company that focuses on providing endoscopic soft tissue release products for foot and ankle surgeons. Wright has been marketing A .M. Surgical’s foot and ankle products since October because of a previously announced distribution agreement between the two companies. The purchase includes an initial cash payment of $2.1 million and potential additional cash payments not to exceed $700,000, based on the future financial performance of the acquired assets. The assets that Wright has acquired include all of A.M. Surgical’s endoscopic soft tissue release products for the foot and ankle market, which consist of the AM EPF, AM UDIN and AM EGR. The three systems address the decompression and soft tissue release procedures most commonly performed in foot or ankle surgery. Wright Medical will continue to offer the AM foot and ankle tissue release systems through its U.S. sales force, and the company expects to begin entering certain international markets during 2009.

May Sales Taxes Continue To Underperform Tennessee’s finance commissioner said the state’s sales taxes continued to underperform in May but its corporate taxes increased slightly.

Dave Goetz said the overall revenues for the month were $14.2 million less than the state budgeted. But he said corporate collections came close to the lower estimates set last month by the State Funding Board. Sales tax collections were $5.4 million less than the estimate for May, and franchise and excise taxes combined were $231,000 above the budgeted estimate. Last month, the board projected a revenue shortfall of as much as $384 million this year and up to $585 million next year.

Tourism Awards Given At Tunica’s Horseshoe Casino The Tunica Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Tunica County Chamber recognized several people last month at the 2008 Tourism and Business Awards at Horseshoe Casino. More than 300 people from across Mississippi attended the luncheon, which was an opportunity to honor people and groups who have worked to promote Tunica tourism. The chairman of the Tunica County Tourism Commission, Penn Owen Jr., presented the Chairman’s Award to Ken Oatis, district planner and coordinator for the Tunica County Soil and Water Conservation District. Oatis received the award for overseeing the resort landscaping created along U.S. 61. Leona Johnson, an employee at Tunica National Golf & Tennis, received the Southern Hospitality Award. The Volunteer Service Award was given to the Gold Strike Givers. The Jeff Piselli Media Support Award was given to Valerie Morris, regional vice president of communications and community affairs for Harrah’s Entertainment MidSouth. The Heritage Award was given to the Mississippi Blues Commission. The Tunica Convention and Visitors Bureau received the Large Business of the Year Award, and Henderson Funeral Home received the Small Business of the Year Award.

Famed Architect Aydelott Dies In California A famed architect who designed many notable buildings in Memphis during his career died in recent weeks in Carmel, Calif. A l f re d Ay d e l o t t , A.L. Aydelott who was 92, was known 1916-2008 in many circles as the “father of Memphis modernism,” according to information from the Memphis chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Among the buildings he designed in Memphis are City Hall, Immaculate Conception High School and the U.S. Federal Building Downtown. Immaculate Conception won a first place design award among Catholic institutions in 1958, according to information from Memphis Heritage Inc.

This report compiled by Rosalind Guy with contributions from reporters Andy Meek and Eric Smith, editorial assistant Rebekah Hearn and The Associated Press.

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CO N T E N T S JUNE 18-24, 2008 VOL. 1, ISSUE 1

8 President & CEO

PETER SCHUTT General Manager Emeritus

Riverfront: Who’s in Charge? The Memphis City Council appears to be looking a bit closer at the Riverfront Development Corp. these days.

ED RAINS Publisher

ERIC BARNES Executive Editor

DAVID YAWN Managing Editor

LINDSAY JONES

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Cashing In Now that the possibility is sinking in, more small-business owners are starting to mull over being allowed to form health insurance co-ops.

Senior Editor

LANCE ALLAN WIEDOWER Research Analyst

KATE SIMONE Senior Reporter

BILL DRIES Senior Reporter

ANDY MEEK Senior Reporter

ERIC SMITH Reporter

ROSALIND GUY Editorial Assistant

REBEKAH HEARN Lead Pressman

TOMMY COON

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On the Block The Houston-based redeveloper of a Downtown high-rise decided to sell 44 units because of the soft market.

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An Unlikely Alliance Though Bartlett might be a world away from Downtown Memphis in more ways than one, Bank of Bartlett is a big funder of projects Downtown.

Graphic Designer

BRAD JOHNSON Graphic Designer

JEN SIMMONS Graphic Designer

PHILIP THOMPSON Graphic Designer

KEVIN MASSEY Advertising Coordinator

SANDY YOUNGBLOOD

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All Jazzed Up Dr. Rolando Toyos got a boost recently when the Jazz Foundation of America honored him at a New York benefit concert.

Cover: SubURBAN photo illustration by Kevin Massey

Administrative Specialist

MARSHA PAYNE Advertising Director

DON FANCHER Business Development Manager

CO N T R I B U TO R S

PATRICIA McKINNEY Circulation Coordinator

CATRON KERR Distribution Manager

EARNEST PAYNE Controller

PAM MALLETT Business Manager

LISA WADDELL Customer Service

PAT WIGGINS To reach our editorial department, e-mail:

editorial@thememphisnews.com or call:

901-523-1561

Published by: THE DAILY NEWS PUBLISHING CO. 193 Jefferson Avenue Memphis, TN 38103 P.O. Box 3663 Memphis, TN 38173-0663 Tel: 901.523.1561 Fax: 901.526.5813 www.memphisdailynews.com The Daily News is a general interest newspaper covering business, law, government, and real estate and development throughout the Memphis metropolitan area. The Daily News, the successor of the Daily Record, The Daily Court Reporter, and The Daily Court News, was founded in 1886.

LINDSAY JONES Managing Editor A former reporter, feature writer and magazine editor, Jones has won several awards from the Tennessee Press Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. She is the proud mommy of a great little boy and five spoiled cats.

BILL DRIES Senior Reporter Dries, from Memphis, has been a reporter for more than 30 years. His career stops include The Commercial Appeal, WHBQ AM, WREC AM and WLYX FM 89 way back in the 1970s! He now covers legal issues and other news.

ANDY MEEK Senior Reporter Meek, from Memphis, covers politics, the business community and other news of general interest. He has won awards from the Tennessee Press Association and the Society of Professional Journalists.

ERIC SMITH Senior Reporter Smith covers real estate, financial services, and logistics and distribution. He grew up in Memphis and moved back in 2005 after spending seven years in Alaska, where he worked as a Web writer and sports reporter.

ROSALIND GUY Reporter Guy is an award-winning journalist who covers nonprofit organizations, small businesses and other news. When she’s not writing stellar stories, she’s taking care of her beautiful children – two boys and two girls.


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Habitat Launches Green Building Program in Memphis By eRiC sMiTh The Memphis News

PHOTO COURTESy OF HABITAT FOR HUMANITy OF GREATER MEMPHIS

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The Memphis News is available free of charge throughout the city via strategically placed newspaper boxes and through placement in the most heavily populated office environments. In addition, we mail directly to key business owners, top executives, government officials, media buyers, and other primary influencers. Visit TheMemphisNews.com or call 683.NEWS. Or look for us on newsstands throughout the area. We think you’ll agree – there’s not a more powerful advertising vehicle for reaching the city’s professional community.

FRieNDs OF The eNViRONMeNT: Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis soon will build more “green” homes like the one shown above on Polk Avenue. The organization next year will break ground in Trinity Park, a 38-home development on eight acres near Winchester and Tchulahoma roads.

The Home Depot Foundation and Habitat green standards, so we thought it was a great they don’t have a lot of money and build to the for Humanity International have announced opportunity to work with them,” Wacker said. income level of the family served, to add on the creation of “Partners in Sustainable Build- “And they’re in one of the climate zones that $3,000 or $5,000 in cost would be very difficult,” Wacker said. “Unless some kind of subing,” whose pilot program will bring a host of we wanted to test the program in.” The pilot is targeting a broad range of sidy like our program will provide is available, “green” homes to a Memphis Habitat neighbormarkets – from rural to urban areas, from warm they probably wouldn’t do it – at least now.” hood as early as next year. The $30 million nationwide GREEN PROGRESS grant program was designed by the “PEOPLE ARE FINALLY Habitat for Humanity of Greater two organizations to provide the Memphis already has built green funding and resources needed to SEEING THAT (GREEN homes. It partnered with Memmake 5,000 Habitat houses over BUILDING IS) GOOD FOR phis Light, Gas and Water Division the next five years sustainable and EVERYONE: IT’S GOOD last year to build energy-efficient energy-efficient. homes through the utility company’s Locally, it will allow Habitat FOR THE PLANET; IT’S EcoBUILD initiative. for Humanity of Greater Memphis GOOD FOR INDIVIDUAL Green homes, whether they incorin 2009 to create Trinity Park, a porate EcoBUILD or the U.S. Green 38-home development on an 8-acre HOMEOWNERS; Building Council’s Leadership in site at Winchester and Tchulahoma IT’S GOOD FOR OUR Energy and Environmental Design roads near Memphis International NEIGHBORHOODS.” (LEED) guidelines, have a smaller Airport. – Jeff Capps Jeff Capps, director of comDirector of community relations, Habitat for carbon footprint. That means they’re Humanity of Greater Memphis easier to cool or heat – and that means munity relations for the Memphis lower utility bills for homeowners. Habitat chapter, said details on the “We’re thrilled to be a part of it,” pilot program still are being hammered out because the partnership was forged to cold climates – and it also includes Habitat Capps said of the new program. “It’s continuat the international level. But having the Home affiliates that either rehab existing homes or ing something that we’ve been proactive in starting the last few years through MLGW’s Depot Foundation pour funding into Trinity build new ones. Wacker said the program’s goals are five- EcoBUILD program.” Park is welcome news. Green building truly has taken off this year “We hope this pilot goes well because it fold: help Habitat International beef up trainwill be just about in line with when we’ll start ing efforts and create a center of excellence in in the city. The Memphis Area Home Builders breaking ground on that development,” Capps green building; provide money to specific Habi- Association recently unveiled its green buildsaid. “It’s really exciting in terms of the longer- tat affiliates; support a host of other national ing initiative, and the University of Memphis’ initiatives; assist Habitat affiliates in Mexico; Center for Sustainable Design is building a term ramifications.” and set aside $1 million per year for five years green home in Uptown. Capps lauded the rise of green building in product donations from Home Depot’s Eco TEST AREA The local Habitat chapter was one of 30 Options line of environmentally friendly home nationally and locally. “Finally, the environmental cause is takaffiliates selected for the “Partners in Sustain- improvement products. That last point is crucial, as green building ing hold after all these years,” he said. “People able Building” pilot program, said Fred Wacker, director and chief operating officer for the tends to be more expensive up front because of are finally seeing that it’s good for everyone: Home Depot Foundation. The city was chosen the sustainable or energy-efficient materials, It’s good for the planet; it’s good for individual techniques, appliances and fixtures used. It can homeowners; it’s good for our neighborhoods. for a number of reasons. “Memphis has a very exciting development add a few thousand dollars to the initial cost of I’d definitely say that we are starting to see a change in the paradigm regarding green (Trinity Park) under way. It’s not far enough building a Habitat home. “I think for some Habitat affiliates, because building.” n along that it wouldn’t be able to incorporate


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FHA Loans Skyrocket In Shelby County

FedEx Faces Ground Unit Classification Suit

By ERIC SMITH The Memphis News

By ANDY MEEK The Memphis News

As a result of tighter lending guidelines in the mortgage industry, home loans by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) have shot up in 2008, and their rapid rise could be a savior for the housing market. From Jan. 1 through April 30, FHA mortgages in Shelby County increased 210 percent, while the county’s overall mortgage volume decreased 38 percent. There have been 710 FHA loans in those four months compared to 229 in the same period for 2007. Both February and April registered the largest increases with 253.2 percent and 229 percent gains, respectively. Michael Wiegert, vice president of Wachovia Mortgage Corp. and immediate-past president of the Memphis Mortgage Bankers Association, said the demise of 100 percent financing has made FHA loans a viable alternative for borrowers. “So many people got away from it at one point in time because there were so many other products available out there … and none of those are available anymore,” Wiegert said. “FHA just really makes the most sense for many, many people right now.”

A Pennsylvania-based group of FedEx shareholders has decided to take the Memphisbased transportation services giant to court. The Western Pennsylvania Bricklayers Pension Fund, which has owned FedEx Corp. common stock since 2002, has filed a lawsuit against the company over a practice that recently caught the attention of the Internal Revenue Service. The suit attacks FedEx’s classification of its ground unit drivers as independent contractors rather than employees, which the Pennsylvania shareholders argue has left FedEx and its ground unit exposed to millions in damages and other related costs.

CARRYING OUT ITS MISSION The national numbers are similar to Shelby County’s, and FHA leaders in Washington agree that the trend will continue everywhere in the U.S. for months to come. Bill Glavin, special assistant to FHA Commissioner Brian Montgomery, told Forbes magazine recently that the organization has been “inundated” with requests by banks suffering from the mortgage crisis to become FHA-certified lenders. Glavin expects FHA’s loan volume to increase by 168.2 percent in fiscal year 2008 (which ends Sept. 30), insuring 1.14 million loans, up from 425,000 in fiscal 2007. FHA also expects to guarantee $224 billion worth of loans in 2008, according to the Forbes report. The increased volume is lockstep with FHA’s mission. Created as part of the National Housing Act of 1934 and under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, FHA is the only government agency that’s selffunded and doesn’t cost taxpayers a dime. And one of its goals is to provide affordable home financing – especially during market instability. “FHA is carrying out the function that they were designed to do – to provide quality financing for people who would not otherwise qualify for conventional loans,” Beibers said. “They’re carrying out their mandate.” OPPORTUNITY WITH SOME COSTS The only downside to FHA loans is more paperwork, which Beibers said tends to be cumbersome and time-consuming for both the borrower and the lender. While FHA gives potential homeowners better pricing, it does require a minimum of 3 percent investment instead of zero down payment – a practice that was rampant during the subprime-lending heyday of the past Continued on page 25

P HOTO CO URT E SY O F FE DE X

CHANGING LANDSCAPE It makes sense for a lot of reasons. First, the limit on FHA loans rose to $271,050, well beyond Shelby County’s median home price of $171,000 (according to FHA data) and its most recent average sales price of $135,972 (the yearto-date figure for 2008, according to real estate information company Chandler Reports, www. chandlerreports.com). Second, FHA allows the seller to pay 6 percent toward closing costs, which isn’t possible on a conventional product with a higher loan-to-value. Third, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in late 2007 implemented loan-level price adjustments, which established a mortgage’s interest rate according to credit score. That raised the price of their loans for some borrowers. “FHA doesn’t really have that,” said West Beibers, president of Delta Mortgage of Cordova-based Delta Trust Mortgage Corp. “Based on where Fannie has placed some credit-score adjustments, we’re seeing loans that should be going conventional end up being FHA because the pricing is better.” Last, private mortgage insurance (PMI) companies have steadily backed away from insuring 100 percent conventional loans, making that product more difficult to obtain. So FHA has been the only option for some applicants. “Unless we see a change taking place in PMI land or some of the issues that Fannie has with loan-level price adjustments,” Beibers said, “I don’t see this trend ending any time soon.”

THE TAXMAN COMETH The group’s lawsuit was filed June 5 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, according to The Daily News Online, www.memphisdailynews.com. In a regulatory filing made public in December, FedEx disclosed that the IRS anticipates assessing taxes and penalties of $319 million against the company. The reason for the tax agency’s decision is based on its tentative conclusion that the drivers who work for

CASES AND THEIR MERITS The Pennsylvania shareholders group brought their action against members of FedEx’s board of directors for reasons including the alleged violation of employment laws in at least six states. They also claim the company’s use of independent contractors has exposed it to “hundreds of millions of dollars in damages in class action lawsuits brought by its ‘independent contractor’ drivers due to defendants misclassifying them as independent contractors.” FedEx spokesman Maury Lane said the shareholders group doesn’t have a basis for its court action. “This lawsuit is clearly without merit and frivolous,” Lane said in an e-mail to The Daily News. “FedEx has a long record of providing outstanding shareholder value and is led by a board of successful and experienced directors who are committed to the highest quality of corporate governance.” The suit on behalf of the Western Pennsylvania Bricklayers Pension Fund comes about a month after another group of FedEx shareholders filed suit in Memphis making

IN THE DOGHOUSE: FedEx’s classification of drivers in its ground unit as independent contractors instead of employees has spawned yet another lawsuit.

FedEx’s ground unit should be reclassified as employees for payroll tax purposes. That tax assessment of $319 million covered only 2002. In January, FedEx disclosed the IRS is auditing similar issues at FedEx for 2004 through 2006.

similar claims related to the independent contractor issue. The Rhode Island-based Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 51 Pension Fund filed suit May 8 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee. n


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Council Members Raise Questions About Riverfront Control

P H OTO COU RT ESY OF T H E R IVER F RONT DEVElO P M ENT CO R P.

P H OTO BY aNDY M EEK

By ANDY MeeK The Memphis News

By ANDY MeeK The Memphis News With the full brunt of summer weather just around the corner, at least one group of people has reason to rejoice: ice cream shop owners. Memphians looking to beat the heat by indulging in a hot fudge sundae or munching on an ice cream cone, however, donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have as many options as they used to â&#x20AC;&#x201C; at least for the time being. The ownership group of Cold Stone Creameryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Memphis-area franchise has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection and closed its stores in the area. Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases are considered the most forgiving type of bankruptcy because they allow debtors to wipe away most of what they owe.

LiVe, wORK, pLAY: vISITORS TO MUD ISLAND FROLIC ON A SUNNy DAy. MEANWHILE, THE CITy COUNCIL IS LOOKING MORE CLOSELy AT THE RIvERFRONT DEvELOPMENT CORP.

The Memphis City Council has signaled it may begin taking a more hands-on approach than it once did concerning the quasi-governmental entity that manages a five-mile stretch of riverfront Downtown. To a certain extent, there are limits to the control council members can exert over the Riverfront Development Corp., the nonprofit group whose mission is to turn the sliver of Downtown that encompasses the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s waterfront into a pristine, popular attraction. For starters, a variety of approvals already have been given and permits are in hand for some of the development projects the RDC is overseeing. The groupâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s board is stacked with heavy hitters such as University of Memphis basketball coach John Calipari and outdoorsman Bill Dance. Former and current public-sector officials on the board include a variety of people with ties to Memphis city government. That fact did not escape the attention of Council member Wanda Halbert at a budget hearing earlier this month. WHOâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S BEHIND THE WHEEL? In the room with her and representing the RDC was the groupâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s president, Benny Lendermon, a former public works director for the city. Also on hand was RDC chairman Greg Duckett, senior vice president and corporate counsel for Baptist Memorial Health Care Corp., and RDC spokesman Dorchelle Spence, wife of former city attorney Robert Spence.

Halbert, who chairs the councilâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s budget committee, apparently thought the cashstrapped city â&#x20AC;&#x201C; which sharply reduced its funding to Memphis City Schools by about $70 million this month to avoid a property tax increase â&#x20AC;&#x201C; was on the short end of the table. And her comments were further evidence that the new council is eager to assert its political influence in every aspect of city government. Another example of the councilâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s philosophy is the funding cutback to the city schools system. The cut was regarded as a bold political move from the council, although it is expected to produce a lawsuit from the city schools system in response. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I have to be honest with you and tell you what my concern is,â&#x20AC;? Halbert told the executives representing the riverfront group. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This belongs to the city. But weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re turning it into something else. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m just telling you the perception Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m getting. The RDC is really kind of driving a lot of what happens down here. But the city should be driving a lot of what happens.â&#x20AC;? FULL STEAM AHEAD When the history of the RDCâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s master plan for a revamped riverfront was unfolded for the sake of new members of the council â&#x20AC;&#x201C; nine of whom are six months into their first year in office â&#x20AC;&#x201C; it became clear the issue was larger than anything having to do solely with the RDC. Work on some of the RDCâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s largest projects is humming right along. About a fourth of the roughly $30 million cost of Beale Street Land-

ing â&#x20AC;&#x201C; which will include a restaurant, parking lot and boat landing â&#x20AC;&#x201C; already has been spent. The renovation of what was the Front Street Post Office for about 40 years soon will make way for a new home for the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. Renovation work on that building, which stands at the end of Madison Avenue, is expected to be finished in fall 2009. Lendermon told council members the groupâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s challenge is to think long-term about the future of the riverfront. As another example of the RDCâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s focus, he pointed to Mud Island, for which the group hasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t yet figured out a big-picture strategy. The group has been approached about the possibility of putting a skate park at Mud Island River Park. Greg Ericson, one of the would-be developers of The Pyramid arena, had an interest in incorporating Mud Island River Park into his larger plan for a theme park in the area. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s why the RDC is working with Robert Lipscomb, the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Housing and Community Development director, on a long-range strategy for Mud Island itself. CIVICS CLASS IN SESSION Halbertâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s concern, meanwhile, is that the RDC is operating as the catalyst for the remaking of the riverfront, while the council â&#x20AC;&#x201C; to which the RDC turns for funding â&#x20AC;&#x201C; takes what she said might be considered a back-seat

HEAVY DEBT LOAD One of the stores, at 1243 Ridgeway Road, reopened recently under different ownership, said Kate Guess, spokeswoman for Kahala Corp., the parent company of Cold Stone Creamery. The second store, which was a tenant in the Avenue Carriage Crossing lifestyle center in Collierville, remains closed. Eugene Douglass, the attorney who filed the bankruptcy petitions for Smith Ventures LLC and TAS Enterprises LLC, attributed the storesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; business failure to a combination of factors. They include a soft economy, the seasonality of the ice cream business and an insurmountable debt load. Bankruptcy petitions covering the two Cold Stone Creamery locations in Memphis were filed last week, according to The Daily News Online, www. memphisdailynews.com. The last day of business for both ice cream stores under the ownership that filed bankruptcy was Dec. 31. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The income stream just didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t hold up to what their liabilities were,â&#x20AC;? Douglass said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;And they just couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t make it. Their revenue stayed fairly consistent. It just wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t sufficient enough to meet the debt load. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m sure the economy didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t help things, although I canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t say itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s because of the economic problems weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re having that thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s what caused them to fail. Because they did maintain

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Millington’s McMullen Appointed To State Appeals Court By BILL DRIES The Memphis News Assistant U.S. Attorney Camille R. McMullen of Millington has been appointed to the vacant Western Section seat on the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals. The federal prosecutor, who works from the U.S. Attorney’s Memphis office, was appointed June 9 by Gov. Phil Bredesen. She fills the vacancy created when Judge David G. Hayes retires at the end of June. McMullen, a 1996 University of Tennessee Law School graduate, became a federal prosecutor in 2001 after four years as an assistant district attorney. Bredesen also tapped Dyersburg Chancellor Steve Stafford to fill a vacancy on the

Tennessee Court of Appeals. That vacancy was created when Judge W. Frank Crawford died in April. Stafford has served as chancellor since 1993. The Tennessee Chapter of the American Board of Trial Attorneys picked Stafford, a graduate of Samford University Cumberland School of Law, as the 2007 Judge of the Year. Still to be filled by Bredesen is a pending vacancy on the Tennessee Supreme Court. The deadline for applications to the Judicial Selection Commission is June 20. The commission then will send Bredesen a list of three finalists from the applications. n

Small-Biz Proponents Mull Legislation Allowing Health Care Co-ops

Creating an Enhanced Quality of Life for Our Clients and Community

KARENT OTT MAYER Special to The Memphis News With the ink barely dry on a new state law that allows small-business owners to form and join health care cooperatives, interested citizens have their wheels turning on how to maximize the boon. The law, signed by Gov. Phil Bredesen near the end of the legislative session in late May, provides business owners the opportunity to negotiate better health insurance rates, including the option to shop for better rate predictability and stability. While it does not guarantee lower premiums, the law represents an option for small employers who struggle with offering health insurance because of high rates. The law defines a cooperative as at least 1,000 employees or 10 employers. It takes effect in January. “The thrust of the legislation is to help small-business owners by giving them an option to spread their risk among a pool and to help protect their business during those years when they are experiencing catastrophic illness,” said Jim Brown, state director for the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), emphasizing that catastrophic incidents drive up premiums. “It is extremely difficult for small business to deal with a 60 or 70 percent increase or large increases greater than the rate of inflation,” he said. SOME RELIEF FOR THE WEARY It’s no secret health care costs have become a burden across all segments of the economy. Fifteen years ago, 70 percent of businesses offered health insurance to employees. Last year, that number dropped to only 45 percent. “When you get to businesses with one to three employees, the number is lower than 45 percent,” Brown said. “The smaller the employer, the worse the situation.” Debates still flare over the efficacy of health care pools, but for now, the interest is high not only on the business side, but with legislators. State Rep. Curry Todd, R-Collierville, was one of Curry Todd

the supporters. “I believe it’s because of the number of small businesses in West Tennessee and that folks are looking for opportunities to expand health care coverage,” Todd said. Legislators joined with NFIB, large insurers and businesses to study a similar bill recently passed in South Carolina, which provided common ground for discussion and compromise. Todd said he believes the bill passed with little resistance for several reasons: “I think this is another deterrent because costs are prohibitive. Also, it’s the first time we’ve seen a major push, and the first step is just to get it on the books.” Brown said before the governor signed the bill into law, four to five major insurers came to the table. At this juncture, a general consensus is the new law at least represents a good first step. The most significant compromise can be found in the amendment that now defines a small employer as having no less than two, but no more than 50 employees. Since Bredesen’s signing, Todd and Brown have reported positive feedback from members, constituents and businesses. “I think this will also offer affordable coverage for businesses that are looking to retain employees, which is even more important in this market,” Todd said. Health care associations have existed and are created at the state level, but a national pool could offer additional incentives for joining. “If a state does offer a pool, businesses could qualify for a tax credit of $1,000 for an individual and $2,000 for family coverage,” Todd said. “That would serve as yet another incentive for small employers to join.” Brown said business owners can find out about pools through their chambers, the NFIB and industry associations. “Our approach is to continue to have conversations with parties who have an interest and want to know more.” To learn more about House Bill 4066/Senate Bill 4014 and amendments, visit www.nfib. com or www.legislature.state.tn.us. n

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Jackson, TN Hernando, MS 731.424.5450 662.298.2188

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AP-AOL Poll: Debt Stress Tears at Your Body, Too By JeANNiNe AVeRsA aP Economic Writer WASHINGTON (AP) – The stress from deepening debt is becoming a major pain in the neck – and the back and the head and the stomach – for millions of Americans. When people are dealing with mountains of debt, they’re much more likely to report health problems, too, according to an Associated Press-AOL Health poll. And not just little stuff; this means ulcers, severe depression, even heart attacks. Take Edward Driscoll, 38, of Braintree, Mass. He blames debt – $10,000 worth – for contributing to his ulcers and his wife Kimberly’s panic attacks. “Just worrying, worrying, worrying, you know, where the next payment of this is going to come from,” he said. Although most people appear to be managing their debts, perhaps 10 million to 16 million are “suffering terribly due to their debts, and their health is likely to be negatively impacted,” said Paul J. Lavrakas, a research psychologist and AP consultant who analyzed the results of the survey. Those are people who reported high levels of debt stress and suffered from at least three stress-related illnesses, he said. That finding is supported by medical research that has linked chronic stress to a wide range of ailments. And the current tough economic times and rising costs of living seem to be leading to increasing debt stress, 14 percent higher this year than in 2004, according to an index tied to the AP-AOL survey. Among the people reporting high debt stress in the new poll: • 27 percent had ulcers or digestive tract problems, compared to 8 percent of those with low levels of debt stress. • 44 percent had migraines or other headaches, compared to 15 percent. • 29 percent suffered severe anxiety, compared to 4 percent. • 23 percent had severe depression, compared to 4 percent. • 6 percent reported heart attacks, double the rate for those with low debt stress. • More than half, 51 percent, had muscle tension, including pain in the lower back. That compared with 31 percent of those with low levels of debt stress.

People who reported high stress also were much more likely to have trouble concentrating and sleeping and were more prone to getting upset for no good reason. When their construction business went under four years ago, Pamela Crouch, 61, and her husband, who had retired from General Motors, found themselves struggling under IOUs totaling $30,000. “We just kind of felt desperate. We just really didn’t have enough to live on to pay what we had to pay,” recalls Crouch of Eaton, Ind. She remembers having trouble sleeping and concentrating. “We ended up paying a lot of our bills just on the credit card,” said Crouch, a medical assistant in a nursing home. “We were stressed and depressed. ... It was really rough.” Their son, a manager of a construction supply company, recently helped them out with their debt problems. “Things are doing much better,” she said. “It made a world of difference in how we feel.” It isn’t known for certain whether such stress is causing health problems, said Lavrakas, who while at Ohio State University in the late 1990s helped develop an index to measure the extent to which people are stressed from financial debts. But medical research suggests that most of the symptoms reported in this poll are indeed typical of chronic stress. The body reacts with a “fight-or-flight” response, releasing adrenaline and the stress hormone cortisol. That helps you react fast in an emergency, but if the body stays in this high gear too long, those chemicals can wreak physical havoc in numerous systems – everything from a rise in blood pressure and heart rate to problems with memory, mood, digestion, even the immune system. And, no, stress doesn’t cause stomach ulcers – most are caused by bacteria – but stress can worsen the pain. Regardless of the health implications, Americans are taking on more debt as tough economic times – slowing economic activity, job losses, soaring energy and food prices, slumping home values and record home foreclosures – strain many people’s budgets. Revolving consumer debt, almost all from credit cards, now totals $957 billion, compared to $800 billion in 2004, according to the Federal Reserve. Average car loans are up, too, to $27,397, from $24,888 four years ago. Home mortgages total $10.5 trillion, compared with $7.8 trillion in 2004.

If that’s not enough to rattle you, consider this. The share of households’ after-tax income that goes to serving financial obligations was nearly 20 percent in 2007, up from 18.5 percent in 2004, said Scott Hoyt, senior director of consumer economics at Moody’s Economy.com. No wonder people are feeling stressed. So, why do they let debt spiral out of control? A significant life crisis such as a major health problem or the loss of a job drives many people into debt. Others build up bills “trying to keep up with the Joneses,” said Patricia Drentea, associate professor of sociology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, who studies debt and stress. For the middle class and beyond, it could be a push for a bigger house, an SUV, hightech TVs, computers and other electronic gadgets, gym memberships, nicer clothes and restaurants. The list goes on and on. Indeed, the survey found that upwardly mobile, middle-class families were among those who had the most debt stress. Others were women, couples with small children, low-income working families, Democrats and those who graduated high school but haven’t taken college courses. Those least likely to be stressed from debt include men, retirees, empty nesters, college graduates and Republicans. The AP-AOL Health poll involved telephone interviews with 1,002 adults from all states except Alaska and Hawaii and was conducted from March 24 to April 3 by Abt SRBI Inc. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. Cynthia Roberts, 36, of Tawas City, Mich., is “slowly crawling out of the hole that I’ve been buried in for four years.” At that time, she lost her job as a convenience store manager as she battled health problems. She eventually lost her home to foreclosure. These days, Roberts, a mother of four, the oldest in the Army, makes a living through a series of odd jobs: hauling metal to the scrap yard, selling firewood, mowing lawns and cleaning houses. She’s now making payments on utility bills and on her car. But not her credit card, where hundreds of dollars in charges are several years old. At the height of her financial troubles, “I couldn’t function,” she remembers. “I’m surprised I’m not in a white straitjacket in a nut house. It was that bad. I had to go for counseling because I was freaking out.” n

On the Net: AOL site: http://aolhealth.com Associated Press Director of Surveys Trevor Tompson, and writers Christine Simmons and Lauran Neergaard contributed to this report. Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Method for AP-AOL health poll on debt and stress By The Associated Press The associated Press-aOl Health poll on debt and stress was conducted March 24 to april 3, 2008, by abt SRBI Inc. The poll is based on telephone interviews with a nationally representative random sample of 1,002 adults from all states except alaska and Hawaii, including 778 adults with credit cards and 931 adults with debt. Digits in the phone numbers dialed were generated randomly to reach households with unlisted and listed landline numbers. Interviews were conducted in both English and Spanish. As is done routinely in surveys, results were weighted, or adjusted, to ensure the responses accurately reflect the population’s makeup by demographic factors such as age, sex, education, region and race. No more than one time in 20 should chance variations in the sample cause the results to vary by more than plus or minus 3.1 percentage points from the answers that would be obtained if all people in the U.S. were polled. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for credit card holders and plus or minus 3.2 percentage points for those with debt. There are other sources of potential error in polls, including the wording and order of questions. The questions and results for this poll are available at http://surveys.ap.org.


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Deutsche Bank Leads Ailing Home Market eRiC sMiTh The Memphis News For the fifth straight month, Deutsche Bank National Trust Co. retained its place atop the list of Shelby County’s top residential sellers. That follows the recent trend of banks and trust companies leading the sales rankings while homebuilders struggle to keep up. New York-based Deutsche Bank National Trust, a division of Frankfurt, Germany-based Deutsche Bank AG, in May led all sellers in Shelby County – in number of sales and total dollar amount – with 61 sales averaging $63,994 and totaling $3.9 million, according to the latest Top Sellers report from real estate information company Chandler Reports, www. chandlerreports.com. Overall, Shelby County registered 1,309 residential sales in May, a 31.1 percent dropoff from the 1,900 in May 2007 and a 12.4 percent dropoff from the 1,495 in April 2008. The month’s average sales price of $144,233 marked a 9.6 percent decline from the May 2007 figure of $159,517, but just a 0.4 percent decline from the April 2008 figure of $144,809. And the total sales volume for May was $188.8 million, which is 37.7 percent down from May 2007’s total of $303.1 million but only 12.8 percent down from April 2008’s total of $216.5 million. “There is still business going on – it may be at a slower pace, but we’re thinking that it’s starting to level out,” said Elsie Ward, broker for Crye-Leike Inc. and vice president of the Memphis Area Association of Realtors. “We’re seeing that our showings, while not at the same level as last year at this time, are up from what they were the last couple of months. We’re not seeing quite as big a gap between the numbers.” MIDDLEMAN Deutsche Bank National Trust clearly has created a large gap in the residential sales game this year, but Shelby County isn’t the only place where the company has made headlines. It has climbed other cities’ top sellers lists as well, the result of a quirky trust process that shows the bank as seller of record on numerous deeds. Its role as a residential seller is chiefly an administrative one, whereby it acts as the trustee for securitization trusts and, in some cases, as custodians for mortgage documents, a company spokesman said. In other words, the company isn’t selling the homes in a traditional manner, like area homebuilders. Instead, it is the middleman of sorts amid the foreclosure process, during which it – and other banks and trust

companies alike – acquire homes on paper and resell them. Deutsche Bank National Trust was followed in number of sales by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development with 59 sales averaging $47,745 and totaling $2.8 million; U.S. Bank NA with 46 sales averaging $55,876 and totaling $2.6 million; Bank of New York Trust Co. with 31 sales averaging $53,469 and totaling $1.7 million; and Fannie Mae with 27 sales averaging $49,211 and totaling $1.3 million. As for homebuilders, who formerly dominated the Top Sellers report, they continued their slide down the rankings in May as they worked – often unsuccessfully – to shed inventory. The top builder for the month in Shelby County in terms of number of sales and dollar amount was Vintage Homes LLC with nine sales averaging $205,245 and totaling $1.8 million. Other builders making the list were Chateaux DuMonde LLC (one sale totaling $1.7 million); Kircher-Belz Builders LLC (two sales totaling $1.7 million); and Oaktree Homes LLC (three sales totaling $1.3 million). UNABLE TO MOVE ON UP The sales decline among builders can be attributed to a number of factors, from tightened mortgage guidelines to declining consumer confidence, from sinking home values to rising foreclosures. That perfect storm of factors has sent a ripple effect through the housing market, as builders haven’t been able to reduce inventory because potential homebuyers aren’t able to sell their current homes or qualify for the right mortgage, noted Terry Pagliari of Terry and Terry Inc. “It’s a combination of things,” Pagliari said. “We have a lot of people qualifying for lower-price houses, maybe having some difficulty getting credit, so there’s no move-up market. The people that are looking at a lot of our houses are having trouble selling their houses.” Ward agreed that the market is being stunted by the entry-level homebuyer who can’t get credit or has fear of foreclosure or has been spooked by the news they read about other cities where values have plummeted. “It’s the inverse of the ‘trickle down’ – it’s the ‘trickle-up’ effect,” Ward said. “If the entry-level buyer can’t buy, then he can’t buy a house and those people can’t move on.” n

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FOCUS real estate

Slow Market Leads to Condo Auction By Eric Smith The Memphis News The Houston-based redeveloper of a Downtown high rise became frustrated with the soft real estate market and placed 44 unsold condominiums on the auction block. On Saturday at 11 a.m., McCord Development Inc. was set to sell its remaining condominiums in the 152-unit River Tower at South Bluffs at a public auction. The first 10 were to be sold absolute, which means they would be sold to the highest bidder regardless of price. Starting bids on the rest of the units were based on the prices of those first 10. Mike Maerz, director of investments and property development for McCord Development, said the move is a direct result of the slumping market, and that he hoped a public auction might renew interest in the riverfront property, at 655 S. Riverside Drive. “The sales velocity in the entire Downtown area has dropped off significantly over the last couple of years,” Maerz said. “There are still sales going on, but with the number of new units in the marketplace, the velocity has been diluted. And with negative national press on the housing market, we feel we’d rather be the first one to auction off units in the marketplace rather than later in the game.” Boom is over? Condo sales throughout Memphis indeed have suffered of late, and the Downtown ZIP of 38103 – the highest-density submarket for condos – also has dropped off significantly.

As for Downtown, it saw just 12 condo Just 68 condos sold in May, a 27.7 percent sales in May, a 58.6 percent decrease from the decline from the 94 that sold in May 2007 and 29 that sold the same month a year ago. And a 1.5 percent decline from the 69 that sold year-to-date sales are off 44.5 percent, perin April 2008, according to the latest data haps signaling an end from real estate to Downtown’s midinformation com2000s condo boom. pany Chandler “IT’S A SIGN THAT McCord DevelRe ports, www. MEMPHIS HAS opment caught the chandlerreports. REACHED THE tail end of the craze. com. After the company Year to date, ‘BIG CITY’ REAL poured $17 million condo sales have ESTATE MARKET into converting the dipped 22.9 per- BECAUSE THESE 14-story River Tower cent: Through from apartments to May 31, just 351 AUCTIONS ARE condos, it quickly sold condos sold in BEING HELD IN Memphis, down MARKETS AROUND more than two-thirds of the units ranging from the 455 that from the $100,000s to sold during the THE COUNTRY AS the $500,000s. same period in A TOOL TO SELL But it was fol2007. MID- TO UPPERlowed by the subprime Fortunately, lending fiasco, credit condo values have RANGE HOUSING, crunch and housing held. The aver- BOTH CONDOS AND slump. age sales price SINGLE-FAMILY “There was a marfor condos in ket at the time, and 2008 is $157,299 HOMES.” -W.V. Richerson Jr. it was very vibrant,” through May, up  Maerz said. “We did the 3.3 percent from (condo) conversion $152,116 through and sold off over 70 percent of our building May 2007. And the price per square foot of fairly quickly. And then the market substan$96.17 to date in 2008 is only a fraction below tially slowed down over the last nine months.” the $96.91 in 2007.

Center City Commission 2008 Annual Luncheon E N Tam E R- 1:15 C IY T COMMISSION Thursday, July 10, 2008 C 11:30 pm The Peabody Hotel Grand Ballroom

Keynote Speaker

Maurice Cox

National Endowment for the Arts Director of Design Limited seating RSVP by July 3 by completing the online registration form at downtownmemphis.com $55 per person $500 per table of 10 In addition to his role as NEA’s Director of Design, Maurice Cox is an Associate Professor of Architecture at the University of Virginia School of Architecture and is a 2004-05 recipient of the Loeb Fellowship at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. He recently completed eight years on the Charlottesville (VA) City Council with the last two years as the city’s mayor. As mayor, professor, and noted urbanist, he was widely recognized as the principal urban designer of his city. His reputation as a design leader and innovator led to his being featured in Fast Company as one of America’s “20 Masters of Design;” on CBS news magazine “60 Minutes;” in the documentary film This Black Soil; and in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Architecture Magazine -- all for his ground-breaking use of design as a catalyst for social change.

Generously made possible by:

Askew Nixon Ferguson Architects The Memphis Regional Design Center For more info, visit downtownmemphis.com or call 901.575.0546

Telling sign Jeff Sanford, president of the Center City Commission, said the auction shouldn’t be misinterpreted as a fire sale of Downtown real estate, and that the absorption rate remains healthy despite the downturn. “I wouldn’t be misled by the auction,” Sanford said. “It’s a sign that Memphis has reached the ‘big city’ real estate market because these auctions are being held in markets around the country as a tool to sell mid- to upper-range housing, both condos and singlefamily homes.” McCord Development has paid off its debts on River Tower, so the Downtown venture was hardly a bust. Once sales slowed, the company even contemplated a “repartment” on the unsold units, which turns them back into apartments, but it ultimately decided against it. And deciding to hold the auction was a “long, thought-out process,” Maerz said. “We would prefer to sell it off in a traditional sales process, but with the current market and lack of traffic volume, it’s something we had to consider to move on and focus on other deals,” he said. J.P. King Auction Co. Inc. hosted auction Saturday at The Peabody hotel. Maerz said whatever didn’t sell would remain a listing. Continued on page 25


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R E A L E STAT E R EC A P

New AT&T Retail Center Slated for G’town Parkway 1730 N. Germantown parkway Cordova, TN 38016 sale Amount: $1.3 Million sale Date: May 6, 2008 Buyer: Retail Realty Partners LLC seller: First Capital Bank Loan Amount: $2 million Loan Date: May 12, 2008 Maturity Date: May 12, 2015 Lender: Cadence Bank NA Details: Retail Realty Partners LLC, whose partners include Timothy Vargo and George Stein, recently bought a former Krystal fast food restaurant on North Germantown Parkway in Cordova, tore it down and began construction of a new 4,000-square-foot AT&T Mobility retail center on the site. The Krystal there was a 2,564-square-foot restaurant built in 1996. Stein said the restaurant closed several years ago and has been vacant ever since. The site is a 0.74-acre parcel across the street from Kroger at Germantown Parkway and Dexter Road. Other popular food and retail offerings along Germantown, such as a nearby Starbucks, should help draw traffic to the store.“Location is the attraction,” Stein said. “Say no more there.”The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2008 appraisal is $769,200. In conjunction with the plans, Retail Realty Partners also filed a $300,000 permit application with the city-county Department of Construction Code Enforcement to build the store. C & M Builders Inc. is the general contractor, and Stein is the architect.Retail Realty Partners has not yet determined its targeted opening date, but the store will replace an existing AT&T Mobility center across the street at 1605 N. Germantown Parkway.

6070 poplar Ave. Memphis, TN 38119 permit Amounts: $30.1 Million total (3 permits)

2881 Range Line Road Memphis, TN 38127 sale Amount: $5 Million

59 Lots in hacks Crossing planned Development sale Amount: $1.2 Million

sale Date: May 29, 2008

project Cost: $29.2 million

Buyer: Rynard Properties Ridgecrest LP

sale Date: May 28, 2008 Buyer: Crossroads Ventures LLC

permit Date: Applied May 2008 Completion: Fall 2009 Owner: Highwoods Properties Inc. Tenants: Multiple Contractor: Montgomery Martin Contractors LLC

CENTER

AT&T RETAIL

Architect: The Crump Firm Inc Details: After delays, Highwoods Properties Inc. is moving forward with plans to build a $29.2 million, 148,000-squarefoot office building near Poplar Avenue and Shady Grove Road, the company announced recently. Dubbed Triad Centre III, the seven-story building joins two adjacent Class A office buildings in the Triad complex and is slated to be completed in fall 2009. The other Triad buildings comprise 243,000 square feet and are 93 percent occupied. Raleigh, N.C.-based Highwoods owns seven buildings totaling 705,000 square feet in the Poplar Avenue corridor; those properties are 96.8 percent occupied. The law firm of Apperson Crump & Maxwell PLC has contracted to lease 17 percent of the new space, Highwoods officials said. Early last month, the company filed three building permits totaling $30.1 million for an office building ($15.1 million) and two parking garages ($7.5 million each). But the project then was put on hold, said Steve Guinn, division vice president for the company. The permit applications, filed with the city-county Department of Construction Code Enforcement by contractor Montgomery Martin Contractors LLC, were formalities that paved the way for construction, which is now set to begin.

seller: Regions Bank seller: Ridgecrest Apartments of MemDetails: Crossroads Ventures LLC has phis, Tennessee Inc. bought 59 lots in the Hacks Crossing Details: Indiana-based Rynard ProperPlanned Development, part of a forecloties Ridgecrest LP has bought the 256-unit sure sale on properties formerly owned by Ridgecrest Apartments in Frayser. Built in Mark Matthews Development LLC. The 1973, Ridgecrest Apartments sits on 17.5 25.3-acre Hacks Crossing development is at acres. The Shelby County Assessor of Propthe southwest corner of Shelby Drive and erty’s 2008 appraisal of the property is $3 Hacks Cross Road. Crossroads Ventures is million. The Health, Educational and Housaffiliated with Loeb Properties Inc., which ing Facility Board of the City of Memphis organized the entity in May. issued $6.2 million in Multifamily Housing Revenue Bonds to Rynard Properties to renovate the complex. A spokesperson for the apartment complex confirmed the new owners are planning improvements to the property. In December, the same limited partnership acquired the Hilldale Apartments at 3491 Frayser-Raleigh Road for $3 million. Operating as Rynard Properties Hilldale LP, it bought the 148-unit multifamily complex from Hilldale Apartments of Memphis, Tennessee Inc.


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JUNE 1 8 -2 4 , 2 008

FOCUS LAW & THE COURTS

Bar Internship Introduces Law to Students By Bill Dries The Memphis News The courtroom where the Tennessee Supreme Court convenes when it is in Memphis was packed earlier this month. And to some on that warm late spring morning, the crowd seemed a bit young. Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton Jr. even mistook a few practicing attorneys as part of the group of 100 teenagers who are part of the Memphis Bar Associationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 2008 Summer Law Intern Program. The MBAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Diversity Committee started the initiative a year ago to interest minority students in exploring careers in the law. More than 270 high school students applied earlier this year for the internships, which involve four weeks of work at various law offices for 15 hours a week with a $500 stipend. The turnout compares to 12 applicants the year before.

of law.â&#x20AC;? Wharton, who is a former Shelby County public defender, also said some of the students might find themselves privy to confidential information that will demand a professionalism that goes beyond simply having a summer job. Even the most menial tasks might bring the students in close contact with the practice of law. â&#x20AC;&#x153;When youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re working in a law office and they tell you that you must guard the secrets that come into that office, you are just as much a member of that profession as the president of the bar association,â&#x20AC;? Wharton said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re being honored with a tour of duty this summer in one of historyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s greatest professions â&#x20AC;&#x201C; that of the law.â&#x20AC;?

SCORE Memphis Announces Seminar

Commercial Leasing Basics For Small Businesses Memphis, Tennessee Thursday, June 19, 2008 Time: 8:30 AM to Noon Location: InSouth Bank Conference Room, 5299 Poplar Avenue, Memphis, TN Cost: $39 (Early Bird Rate -- $29 through June 12, 2008) TO REGISTER: Mail your check payable to SCORE Memphis Chapter 068, 5100 Poplar Avenue, Suite 1701, Memphis, TN 38137. Attention: Leasing Seminar SEATING IS LIMITED! IT IS RECOMMENDED YOU REGISTER AND PAY IN ADVANCE AND SAVE WITH EARLY BIRD PAYMENT! 8:30 AM check in with coffee and donuts provided. Seminar begins sharply at 9:00

Who Should Attend?

5a^\^]T_Tab^]bW^_bc^\d[cX\X[[X^]S^[[PaR^a_^aPcX^]bTeTahQdbX]Tbb\dbcWPeTP _[PRTc^[XeTB^\TQdbX]Tbb^f]TabSTcTa\X]Tc^^f]cWTXaQdbX]Tbb_aT\XbTb^cWTabc^ [TPbTCWTSTRXbX^]^UfWTcWTac^[TPbT^a^f]XbQPbTS^]\P]hUPRc^ab7^fTeTa^]RTcWT QdbX]Tbb^f]TaWPbSTRXSTSc^[TPbTPW^\TU^acWTQdbX]TbbcWTR^\\TaRXP[[TPbT QTR^\TbcWTUaP\Tf^aZU^acWTcTa\bd_^]fWXRWcWTQdbX]TbbfX[[dbTP]S^RRd_h[P]SP QdX[SX]V^a^UUXRT^aaTcPX[b_PRT^f]TSQh^cWTab<^STa][TPbTbPaTRP]QTR^\_[XRPcTS 0bX\_[T^RRd_P]RhPVaTT\T]cWPbQTR^\TX]b^\TX]bcP]RTbPR^\_[TgTR^]^\XRP]S QdbX]TbbaT[PcX^]bWX_STUX]TSQhcWTcTa\b^UcWT[TPbTCWXbf^aZbW^_fX[[PSSaTbbcWT b_TRXP[e^RPQd[Pah^UR^\\TaRXP[[TPbTb8cfX[[WT[_h^dd]STabcP]Sh^da[TPbTP]SVXeT h^d_aPRcXRP[XSTPbU^a]TV^cXPcX]Vh^da[TPbTCWTU^RdbfX[[QT^]^UUXRT[TPbTbP]S^] aTcPX[[TPbTbQTRPdbTcWThPaTcWT\^bcR^\\^]U^a\b^UR^\\TaRXP[[TPbTb

WORKSHOP PRESENTER - MICHELLE BERNSTEIN P HOTO BY BI LL DR I ES

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NO SUMMER BREAK HERE: Some of the 100 teenagers in the Memphis Bar Associationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Summer Law Intern Program pose for a picture with Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton Jr. Wharton, a former Shelby County public defender, told the group to take the month-long assignments seriously.

GOOD FOUNDATION TO FOLLOW MBA President Amy Amundsen said more law firms agreed to host the interns this year after the bar reviewed last yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s effort. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t get the word out before,â&#x20AC;? she said. That changed this year with an outreach effort that included not only law firms but also law offices within several major corporations. The ServiceMaster Co.â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s legal office has taken on 10 interns, for example. Amundsen kicked off the program Friday with an orientation at City Hall and then the session with Wharton and other members of the legal community at the courthouse. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll ask you not to consider this as simply, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;What did you do last summer?â&#x20AC;&#x2122;â&#x20AC;? Wharton told the room full of students and parents. â&#x20AC;&#x153;You are actually about the business of upholding what our nation, what our country stands for â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the rule

Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a topic Wharton has little trouble warming to no matter the audience. Even in the political arena, Wharton has reacted to criticism of some of his clients in criminal cases by saying he is proud to practice law in a system that guarantees legal representation to all. DOLING OUT ADVICE Kevin Smith, dean of the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, urged the students to take a good look around their surroundings before the internships end with the Fourth of July weekend. He also said they should include accounting and other undergraduate courses in college that might not directly touch on the law but that will be needed. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Hopefully, weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll see you again in four to five years,â&#x20AC;? he told the students. The courtroom setting was a new one Continued on page 25

Registration

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About SCORE Memphis

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Website: http://SCOREmemphis.org

For information on starting or operating a small business: 2^]cPRccWT<T\_WXbB2>A4^UUXRTQh_W^]TPc$##"$''^a^]cWTfTQPc fffbR^aT\T\_WXb^aV

SCORE Memphis

email: scorememphis@comcast.net phone: 901-544-3588

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JUNE 18-2 4 , 20 0 8

FOCUS GOVERNMENT

MCS Hires Cash, Fires Mercuro

Movers and shakers sit still for The Memphis News. Our readers are the high-powered leaders who shape the local business and political landscape. We deliver insightful reporting and in-depth analysis that helps these leaders stay ahead of the

By ANDY MEEK The Memphis News

P H OTO BY BILL DR IES

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curve. From financial and real estate news, to law and politics, our detailed coverage provides smart readers with smart news. Visit TheMemphisNews.com or call 683.NEWS. Or look for us on newsstands throughout the area. We think you’ll agree – there’s not a more powerful advertising vehicle for reaching the city’s professional community.

LIFE’S STORMS: Interim Memphis City Schools superintendent Dan Ward recently asked the school system’s planning director to resign. Louise Mercuro was fired in recent weeks ostensibly over miscommunication about a school construction project.

It might have been the more attentiongrabbing bit of employee news, but the selection last week of a new Memphis City Schools superintendent is not the only recent management change inside the school district. The city school board voted last Tuesday to extend a job offer to Dr. Kriner Cash, chief of accountability and system-wide performance for Miami-Dade Public Schools in Florida. He promised many things on a conference call with board members that Tuesday night, including that he would help usher in a new era of transparency for the school system. That stands in contrast to the secrecy surrounding the firing of a top school official the previous week by interim superintendent Dan Ward. OUT THE DOOR The official who was let go is Louise Mercuro, the executive director of capital planning and transportation for Memphis City Schools. The firing came a few days after Ward asked for her resignation during a meeting May 30. Mercuro said she was told during that meeting her dismissal was related to miscommunication over a construction project at Wooddale High School. “We’re putting a 20-classroom addition on Wooddale High School, and we have a bunch of portables out there,” she said. “It’s very crowded, and in order to put the 20-classroom addition on, we have to move some portables. We’re moving them to Wells Station Elementary School, which is extremely overcrowded. And the board’s known that. Everybody’s known that. “Well, (Ward) called me in and started saying that he didn’t know those portables were going to be moved. And I said, ‘Everybody knew they were going to be moved.’ ... That was pretty much the end of it.” Ward asked for her resignation, which she declined to offer. She subsequently received a letter that stated her contract with the school district was terminated. Ward, through a spokesman, has declined

to comment on his decision to oust the planning director, someone he had seen fit to promote and to assign new job responsibilities several months ago. A school district spokesman did not return several calls. Entities such as Memphis and Shelby County governments, as well as the local school systems, generally don’t comment in detail or even at all on personnel matters. Mercuro joined the city school system in 2006 after serving as deputy director of the city-county Office of Planning and Development for several years. LOST AND FOUND Beyond the reason Mercuro said she was given, no other indication has emerged as to why she was fired or whether it had anything to do with a matter earlier this year that caused some embarrassment to the school system. Mercuro is the city school official who signed an affidavit in January stating the school district had misplaced a batch of documents requested by the FBI as part of an investigation into several matters at Memphis City Schools. A few months later, the school system misplaced that affidavit, too. School officials found several boxes of files last month in a basement storage area of the Board of Education off Avery Avenue and said the boxes contained records and other documents federal investigators were seeking. About two weeks later, Mercuro had her meeting with Ward. She said the Wooddale matter was the only reason she was given for Ward’s displeasure. She said Ward also told her if she did not resign by the close of business that day, which was May 30, he would fire her. She received a letter from the school district’s human resources department the week before last. “There wasn’t any reason given, just that Continued on page 26


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FOCUS Financial Services

Bank of Bartlett Extends Its Reach to Downtown By ANDY MEEK The Memphis News

Bartlett and Downtown Memphis are separated by about 15 miles, what could be perceived as a political and cultural divide and different economic centers of gravity. All of which are reasons why the millions of dollars pumped into the Downtown economy over at least the past decade by Bank of Bartlett, which was established in the small town of the same name in 1980, might be easy to overlook. But those reasons also put into context the bank’s consistent and generous investment in Downtown projects of all stripes. The small financial institution that grew to become one of the largest banks in Tennessee has its fingerprints today on everything from shopping centers to multi-million-dollar homes to all manner of historic renovations Downtown. DOWNTOWN GROWTH: Scott Vincent, right, store manager of the Downtown wine and One of the latest developments launched liquor store The Corkscrew, looks over the inventory with owner Hank Cowles. The store with funding from Bank of Bartlett is the reopened May 6 with funding from Bank of Bartlett. renovation of the space that houses The Corkscrew, the wine and liquor store that reopened last month at 511 S. Front St. Bank of Bartlett extended a $250,000 Attorney Veronica Coleman-Davis. in demonstrating his bank’s commitment to loan to developers Hank and Barbara Cowles, For the bank’s founders, interest in the area. Projects on that list span the length who reopened the store. The Corkscrew has Downtown as a Petri dish of real estate investof Downtown and cover a period of time that more than 600 wines and more than 500 ment began with the renovation of Central has brought billions in development to the spirits in its inventory. Station, the train station built in 1914. Bank area. of Bartlett helped provide the financing for As further evidence of the bank’s citywide ‘GOOD BANKERS,’ STAKEHOLDERS that project. appeal beyond its suburban home, the bank’s The bank’s funding to The Corkscrew, “Bank of Bartlett came into that project at directors include, in addition to the Byrd however, is only one item on a laundry list of least 10 years ago,” said Jeff Sanford, president brothers who founded it, Youth Villages CEO Downtown development projects that bank of the Center City Commission. “That it is a Patrick Lawler, former Stax Records songchairman and founder Bob Byrd can rattle off bank without a branch Downtown might make writer/producer David Porter and former U.S.

their interest in Downtown seem unusual. But I attribute their interest to just being good bankers.” Inside Central Station are apartments, and the station is served by Amtrak’s City of New Orleans train route. In another historical footnote related to the train station, Bank of Bartlett’s founder and president Harold Byrd chose Central Station as the venue from which to launch what ultimately was an unsuccessful campaign for Shelby County mayor in the 2002 election. “Our first really big commitment (Downtown) came with the financing of the train station,” said Bob Byrd. “(Memphis Area Transit Authority) had a big federal grant to redo the station, but they had to have some financing for the residential component of that. Will Hudson of MATA came to us, gosh, I don’t know how many, many years ago, but he was having difficulty getting the so-called larger banks engaged with that. And it was a pretty simple deal for us. “We moved pretty quickly, gave them a commitment and they were able to maintain their funding. This was sort of the trigger for them to perfect their funding on the federal grant. The train station was kind of a kickoff for South Main, and that was sort of the beginning point that made things happen down there.” ‘BELIEVE IN IT’ In the context of all the development taking place Downtown – more than $3.1 Continued on page 25

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URBAN

The ’burbs surrounding Memphis just aren’t what they used to be, particularly as the Mayberrys of yesteryear are forced to confront more urban issues.

by BiLL DRies The Memphis News | photos by BRAD JOhNsON

piCTURe peRFeCT: A typical neighborhood in Arlington shows the growth blooming in the town of about 10,000 people.

How do you make a suburb?

The recipe is simple, said Henry Turley, the decidedly un-suburban Memphis developer known for such urban projects as Harbor Town and South Bluffs. “anybody that wants to build a suburb, you just build some decent schools and you can build a suburb.” Maintaining them is not nearly as simple, in part because suburbia is experiencing an identity crisis. The Brady Bunch or Mayberry definition of suburbia is an endangered species, at least in the Memphis area. IdenticalHenry Turley looking McMansions are a feature of the suburban Memphis landscape, but so are one-of-a-kind, century-old homes, police departments with the experience and training to handle violent crimes, revitalized town squares and town councils weighing complex policy decisions. Is a McMansion really a McMansion if it’s down the hill from an early 20th century town square? A SHARED FATE, LIKE IT OR NOT These days there is more “urban” in suburban than ever before. And suburbia comes with a price tag. Lakeland is the only suburban town in Shelby County that doesn’t have a property tax rate. Arlington, population 10,000 or so, boasts the lowest property tax rate at $1 for every $100 of assessed value. With a budget of $9 million for the current fiscal year, Arlington has a bonded debt of $432,540. “It’s hard to separate the suburbs from

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the metro area now,” said Memphis Housing and Community Development Director Robert Lipscomb. “It’s totally different now. They are becoming their own sub-metro area now.” The nature as well as the location of suburbia continues to shift. It does mean Collierville. But Collierville has undergone its own transformation since the 1980s. In its case, that included a conscious decision to lure businesses such as FedEx and depart from a bedroom community standard.

“People have a varied definition of suburbia,” said Collierville Mayor Linda Kerley. “I think that years ago you thought of it as just being away from the city. And now you have so many multi-level cities that are suburbias. You can live, work and play within a suburban area. I think you’re finding more of that.” Turley looks at it differently. “I don’t think there’s any option other than to repopulate the cities, because the choice is not between a city or no city or a

Downtown or no Downtown. It’s between a good city and a bad city. … They don’t go away. They just get deeply neglected and blighted and slum-like. That’s just not a viable alternative,” Turley said. “On the other hand, until you make the schools satisfactory to the buyers of education … you can’t have a good city. We’re at the point where it all hinges on fixing the schools.” He said he believes the idea of life in the city intrigues younger homeowners. “When they get not quite so young,


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about 30, and their children are facing first grade, they have to face the harsh reality of, ‘No, I’m not going to that school. It’s dangerous and where the children are not learning.’ And so they leave. And I think they regret it,” Turley said. “They have to go to a rather poor suburb that was constructed around the idea of simply, ‘This is not the city – not that this is something good. This is positive. This will give a richer life.’ It’s, ‘This is not the city – county taxes, county schools. Don’t look back.’ That’s the only reason they are built, so why should they be built well? They’re not.” (See Turley’s commentary on Page 34.) Ticket to the past The schools were what brought Sandy Brewer and her family to Arlington nearly three years ago. They came from Memphis. “We were actually going to build a home,” she said. “The schools are really what drew us to Arlington. We kept coming through the old part of town. It was just such a different feeling so close to Memphis. “We didn’t even know it was here and we’ve lived here almost all of our lives. … We ended up buying a hundred-year-old home instead of building a new home.” Arlington may be the least known of Shelby County’s suburban cities and towns. But like Germantown, Millington, Collierville and Bartlett, it comes with a rural history. Brewer and others contend that history gives their towns more depth and diversity than the McMansions indicate. Drive into Arlington along U.S. 70 (what is Summer Avenue in Memphis), and you’ll see the old train depot and the town square on both sides of the railroad tracks. Calling it a suburb doesn’t seem to do the area justice, especially if you venture south of the square into a residential area that is like a trip back in time. Brewer lives in that area near the Depot Square, owns a

JUNE 1 8 -2 4 , 2 008

travel agency and farmers’ market in the square and heads the merchants’ association. (See her commentary on Page 34.) “Depot Square is the heart of Arlington,” she said. “It’s where everything started. It’s where the cotton gin was. It’s where the train came through. This was Arlington. … It just couldn’t have been a better fit. I look out my front window everyday and I feel like I’m in the early 1900s.” Arlington alderman Gerald McGee grew up in Frayser, moved to Bartlett and then to Arlington. “They know we’re there, but they don’t really know what we are,” he said. “They just know that we’re way out there. I was the same way.” He and his wife, Lorie, are the third owners of a 100-year-old home, also near Depot Square. When homebuilders discovered Arlington no so long ago, McGee said it was a puzzling moment for town officials and other longtime Arlington residents. “They were surprised when development, both residential and commercial, started. They were not equipped to handle it,” he said. McGee and several other newcomers ran successfully for mayor and the Board of Aldermen several years ago using the tagline “Shelby County’s best-kept secret.” “We have our ideas and our thoughts and our desires for what the area can be,” he said. “We just have to make sure that those are put on paper so that when developers come in we can hand it to them and say, ‘This is what we want. If you don’t come with this, don’t come at all.’” Business and commerce McGee acknowledges that is not easy. Arlington and the other suburban towns are departing from the suburban stereotype of residential development – hold the commercial. Wright Medical Group Inc. straddles both sides of Airline Road, the street most motorists who find Arlington from Inter-

RUBBER BABY BUGGY BUMPERS: Braden Beverage, foreground, and his brother, Blake, whoop it up in Arlington’s Snyder Plantation subdivision on a recent afternoon.

THE

WONDERS OF

INFRA STRUCTURE

nfrastructure is a deceptively simple word used to describe all of the basic services and other items a city or town has to provide once new homes are built and occupied and a subdivision comes to life. Infrastructure is why something happens when you flush the toilet. It’s the fire truck that reaches your house when it’s on fire and it is the road the fire truck travels on to reach your house. It’s why you can see your hand in front of your face after dark. Arlington Town Superintendent Ed Haley is one of the most knowledgeable sources about infrastructure in Shelby County. The former state legislator was a Shelby County roads supervisor who has seen the rise and fall and movement of suburbia. He says Arlington’s “infrastructure” definition begins with a “stampede” of homeowners to the area that has resulted in a population recently estimated at just fewer than 10,000 people. “It has caused us to look at our infrastructure. We just borrowed enough money to build a $14.5 million wastewater treatment facility. We are expanding our road system. You’ve got schools that are being built. You’ve got to get infrastructure into them. You’ve got to have streets capable of handling streetlights. You’ve got to have sidewalks, curbs, gutters … recreational facilities, ballparks, fields, walking trails,” Haley said in going through a partial checklist that also took in the wonders of storm water runoff. “All of that is an issue that comes along with growth. In government, you’re trying to look after that infrastructure that is needed to handle the growth and then you’ve got to be able to maintain that infrastructure once it’s built.”

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G ET T Y IM AG E

A GATEWAY OF CHANGE

T

raffic on Bill Morris Parkway, also known as Nonconnah Parkway and simply 385, is a major factor in the changing face of suburbia. Collierville Mayor Linda Kerley sees it as a positive for her town. “With Nonconnah, our people are able to get back and forth and reach out and still live here, enjoy everything here, but go to Memphis and spend some dollars in Memphis and enjoy themselves and have the things that a smaller community can provide,” she said. Fayette County Mayor Rhea “Skip” Taylor, on the other hand, acknowledges – however reluctantly – the bucolic area over which he presides might not remain so for long. “We’ve got a lot of folks moving out here. … A lot of them moving out here are past kid age. They’ve got kids either in high school or college and they’re not looking for a school system out here,” Taylor said. “But we do have some, particularly in the Oakland area, that will be dropRhea “Skip” Taylor ping into the school system. At some point in the future, it won’t take many folks to change. But when it does change, we’re going to have a big need for schools.” And the county property rate of $1.74 that hasn’t been raised since 1994 probably will be a thing of the past. “We’re going to try to hang tight, but there’s definitely some pressure from services, emergency services particularly,” Taylor said. “The schools, if that starts coming into the picture, that’s going to be something we’re really going to have to work with.”

LOTS OF COOKS IN THE KITCHEN

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state 40 would mistakenly regard as the town’s Main Street. Around it are cleared lots ready for homes. The town leaders fought to keep Wright Medical from moving. “That brings a lot of people out here everyday,” McGee said. “We want the businesses out here. It’s not like we want just residential. We want the businesses, too, because that’s what keeps our community growing.” Commercial development is also what helps pay for the infrastructure that must come with new homes and allow the suburban property tax rate to remain competitive.
Infrastructure is roads to those new houses, sewers, fire and police protection, even schools. “We don’t want to have to rely upon just our citizens, our residents, for our tax base – although they are a majority of our tax base, we want to have the blend that makes a community – a full community,” Kerley said of Collierville’s sometimes rigid guidelines for commercial and residential developers. “We’ve sometimes gotten the reputation of being difficult and we’re not difficult. We’re thorough. We want to make sure that whatever comes here, whatever develops here, makes way for the next development to be as good as or better than the previous.” Turley said developers – including himself – can exert tremendous pressure to stray from that standard in suburbia. “There are suburbs that are nice. And there are suburban mayors that I’m real impressed with. They work hard and are very thoughtful about what they are doing,” he said. “But look at what we developers do … an exceedingly poor job. It’s we who are really driving the train. The developers and lenders drive the train. Politicians see what should be done, but they can’t do it themselves.” Lipscomb is adamant that it doesn’t represent growth. “It’s almost like the mall effect. You really haven’t grown. All you’ve done is put those services out there. And all you’ve done is challenge

the tax base. You really haven’t broadened your tax base. All you’ve done is fragment it. The real challenge is how do you then provide a level of services out there?” he said. “If you’re not growing, then all you’re doing is expanding your infrastructure and the cost of the infrastructure is great. Plus the operating cost is also great. It’s really bad with schools.” Always the schools School construction – city and county – accounts for most of Shelby County government’s $1.7 billion in bond indebtedness. Gene Bryan, president of the Cordova Leadership Council, knows well the cycle and the process of building suburbia. He recently retired from the Memphis and Shelby County Office of Planning and Development Gene Bryan (OPD) after 30 years as a planner. He and other leaders of the Cordova group describe the area as a “mature suburb.” Cordova is on the front lines of suburbia, with part of the area within the boundaries of Memphis and part in what remains of unincorporated Shelby County. It’s home to an estimated 55,000 people, making its population larger than Germantown, Collierville or Bartlett. “When you take a look at East Memphis, the areas that were built in the 1950s, they’re now very mature areas that are stable. People flock to those areas because of what they have to offer,” Bryan said. “What we’re trying to make sure is that Cordova keeps the things that make people want to move here. We want to make sure that our schools stay here – both our public and private schools – and that they are great schools.” A recent Thursday night meeting of the council drew a crowd of about 100 people, some retired but most setting aside an hour and a half after work. An acapella vocal group from Cordova High School entertained the body with

The 385 extension that eventually will extend north from Piperton through much of the western edge of the county is already the cause of some jostling among the leaders of the 10 towns and cities there. All 10 mayors plus Taylor make up the county’s Growth Plan Council. Two more members and it would be the size of the Memphis City Council or the Shelby County Board of Commissioners. With the town of Hickory Withe, at the Shelby County line, abolished with the demise of Tennessee’s toy town law, the town of Oakland stands to eventually extend it’s boundaries to the Shelby County line. A growth plan laying out annexation reserve areas in Fayette County is mandated by a state law that was the result of the court ruling in 1997 that struck down the “toy town” law.

The toy town law allowed subdivisions and other small groups to incorporate as municipalities. The legal challenge to the law, pushed through by then-Tennessee Lieutenant Gov. John Wilder, was waged by Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton, who considers its defeat the proudest moment of his 16 years as mayor.

The growth plan has been open for amendment by the Growth Plan Council since last year and Taylor said the competition has been intense to claim parts of the 385 corridor in a particular town’s boundaries. “I probably had four or five different sources of population estimates. And everybody’s using a different one. And everybody’s using it to their advantage,” Taylor said. “Piperton wanted to go north. Oakland wanted to go a little bit further west and south to capture some of that 385 growth. And Gallaway was trying to beat Oakland to the punch on some of the stuff … the normal competition.” By this fall, the council should have one set of figures on population growth that comes from the state of Tennessee, Taylor said.

Cyan Magenta Yellow Black

THIS OLD HOUSE: New homes near county schools may be the initial attraction for some to the suburbs. But Arlington and other suburban towns outside Memphis also offer areas with lots of history and older homes like this one in Arlington.


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COUNTRY AMBIENCE: Bisected by railroad tracks, Arlington’s Depot Square is the starting point for a neighborhood of restored 100-year-old homes. Square merchants such as Sandy Brewer say the area is a well-kept secret they hope can draw visitors from Memphis. The town recently hired the town planner from Collierville to direct its efforts.

some barbershop quartet harmonies. The suburban quality of the experience might have been complete 20 years ago when the headquarters of the Memphis Area Home Builders Association off Germantown Parkway had to keep on outdoor lights so people walking to their cars could find their way in the dark. These days, plenty of light spills from surrounding businesses and their signs. The roar of rush hour traffic is just a few feet away. A court reporter on the front row that Thursday evening was transcribing what was said at the instruction of attorneys, for the city’s strip clubs. And the possibility of a strip club opening across the street was among the topics on the agenda.

SUBURBAN REDUX: New homes near county schools may be the initial attraction for some to the suburbs. But Arlington and other suburban towns outside Memphis also offer areas with lots of history and older homes like this one in Arlington.

A lesson to live by In the back of many minds in Cordova is the example of Hickory Hill’s transformation from suburb of choice in the 1980s to candidate for urban recovery. “What we’re trying to do is stay ahead of the curve and not be in a position like Hickory Hill, where they’re having to beg the city to come down there and help,” Bryan said. “We want to work on our own with a little bit of assistance from the city to preserve what we have so that we don’t become a burden to the city – we become an asset to the city.” Arlington Town Superintendent Ed Haley remembers Hickory Hill well. The former state representative was a Shelby County Road Department supervisor when the area rapidly began to sprout homes and then malls and businesses in the late 1970s. “I was there 31 years to see the change when it started going the other way. It was amazing – that transformation,” Haley said. Hickory Hill’s rise and fall has even been the subject of a University of Memphis study that is both a blueprint for the area’s possible return to prosperity and a cautionary tale for other suburban areas. “The real issue there is don’t let these developers and movers and shakers come in and all of a sudden rake the land – put

all of this infrastructure in – put all of these people in and then let it start getting substandard or get people using them for rental units. The next thing you know, the first five years is gone and they’ve got a tax writeoff,” Haley said. “You’ve got a lot of apartment communities put in, duplexes and multi-family units put in. They let it go down. Once you get one bad apple, then the people around there, if something’s not done, they’re going to start looking for a place to move. It starts like a rolling stone. It’s like a snowball coming downhill that just gets bigger and bigger.” Rolling down the mountain Fayette County Mayor Rhea “Skip” Taylor has seen his share of snowball fights in Fayette County. It usually starts with colorful drawings of how well an apartment complex or retail center will look in a single-family residential area – or a subdivision in an area zoned industrial. “It won’t hurt anything,” Taylor said in describing the pitch to elected leaders and zoning officials. “And then you back into utilities, needs for fire and police protection, roads, schools. It doesn’t affect just one thing.” Brewer says being different from Memphis isn’t the same as being the anti-Memphis. “Memphis is a completely different concept,” she said. “It’s like going to Collierville. I think Collierville has grown so much, I think people are starting to look where there is a little bit less.” But just in case, Arlington recently hired away Collierville’s chief planner. Haley agrees with Turley that perceptions about the Memphis City Schools are behind the moves away from Memphis. But he says it is in the interest of suburban leaders for Memphis to stem the exodus. “Memphis needs help like all big cities do,” he said. “And if we don’t get Memphis back on track, it’s going to impact all of us in a negative sense over time. … The better it does, the better all of us could do.” n


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SMALL BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT

Technology Keeps Exercisers On Track, Motivated P H OTO BY BR AD BROWNF IELD

By Rosalind Guy The Memphis News

When it comes to exercise, sometimes people just need a little nudge every now and then to help them stick to a routine or even a diet. Thanks to ECFit, software created by local entrepreneur Jesse Hercules, that little nudge can come through a minute-long phone call. “I’m calling for June Tillda,” the computerized voice says in a demonstration on Extracon Science LLC’s Web site, www.extracon. com. “Is this June?” When the woman responds with a “Yes,” the computerized voice asks if June completed a scheduled workout. June responds with a “No,” and the virtual fitness coach encourages her to follow through with her next planned workout to get back on track. Third-party motivator The software was first developed by Hercules a couple of years ago as a way to motivate himself to stick to a workout routine. “I realized that what was needed was to have some kind of third-party accountability,” Hercules said. “But I didn’t want to hire a personal trainer or go down that road of trying to find another person to be my third-person accountability. I realized I could create some kind of software to do that and it could call me on the phone and ask me, you know, for example, did I do my workout?”

GYM REMINDER: Jesse Hercules, center, is president and founder of Extracon Science LLC, the company that created ECFit, a third-party accountability for exercisers. He is pictured with Chief Technology Officer Jason Israel, left, and Director of Customer Service Brad Brownfield. Israel also is an application developer for The Daily News.

After receiving good results for himself, and hearing from other people who thought it

would be a good tool to market, Hercules went to work developing a software application that could be offered to the public. The result is the ECFit system, a virtual fitness coach designed to help people keep their fitness goals. Home in Memphis Once Hercules decided he wanted to market the software, he started looking at places such as Huntsville, Ala., Nashville and even Chicago to launch the business. But, he said, it was the business incubator at EmergeMemphis that helped him decide to open Extracon Science in Memphis. “I thought the EmergeMemphis incubator was a really special concept, a good place to be, very supportive of new technology ventures, lots of good advice that you can get from Gwin Scott who runs the place, and lots of good events,” Hercules said. “So I chose Memphis because of EmergeMemphis.” Extracon offers a free trial of the system through its Web site so potential users can understand how the system works. The cost of ECFit for an individual user is $7 per month. The original system required Hercules to enter all the information and the virtual fitness coach sounded more mechanical than human, he said. But this spring, when the company unveiled the system to the public, it came with what Hercules called “a system with a robust scalable dot-net framework.” The new system allows users to go to the Web site to sign up, create a workout schedule with target goals and, through the site and scheduled phone calls, keep up with their progress. “Now we’re scalable to the point where if we wanted to sign up a big customer like First Tennessee, we can do that now,” Hercules said. “Whereas the one that I built, it worked but there was no way we could’ve signed up

EXTRACON SCIENCE LLC Address: 516 Tennessee St. Owner: Jesse Hercules Opened: 2007 Phone: 405-1914

big companies or anything like that.” Not during dinner time The system only calls when the user asks to receive calls, so there are no unwanted phone calls. Through a simple four-step process, users are able to meet their workout goals. The user, of course, first signs up online and sets up a schedule of workouts. The second step is the workout reminders. The next step is the workout, followed by the final step: the follow-up phone calls and feedback. Extracon also has partnered with several fitness centers to offer ECFit to their customers. Currently, Fitness Plus at Nonconnah Boulevard near Memphis International Airport and Healthy Habits in East Memphis offer the service to their customers. Orion Fitness in Oxford, Miss., where Hercules was when he came up with the idea, offers it as well. The program will be introduced this week at Harbor of Health in Harbor Town. Hercules points to the results of a recent study published in Health Psychology to demonstrate the effectiveness of such a system when compared to having a real fitness coach make the phone calls. “What they found was that the automated calls were similarly effective,” he said. “That is, they couldn’t see a difference in effectiveness between having people calling and the automated calling system.” n


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FOCUS Logistics & Distribution

Port Honor Shows ‘What Memphis Is About’ By Eric Smith The Memphis News

P H OTO BY ER IC SM IT H

a general overview of the port Donald McCrory hadn’t and the transportation network heard that the International Port in and out of the port. of Memphis would be featured That’s where Memphis’ this summer by the U.S. Custom advantage could shine through, House Guide as its “Port of the said Dexter Muller, senior vice Month,” but he wasn’t surprised president for community deby the news either. velopment at the Memphis As executive director of Regional Chamber and head of the port – the fourth-largest its logistics sector. The city’s loinland port in the U.S. – McCrory cation and infrastructure – espeoversees one of the city’s key cially as it relates to intermodal economic engines. So he’s used capabilities – could become to the spotlight from national more attractive for companies trade publications such as the hoping to ease the crunch of U.S. Custom House Guide, a rehigher transportation costs. source for importers published “A part of our message about by East Windsor, N.J.-based geography and time is being able Commonwealth Business Meto reach more metro markets dia Inc. overnight than other cities,” “These things happen from Muller said. “The increase in time to time,” McCrory said. gas prices just accentuates that. But the timing of the publicPORT OF CALL: The U.S. Custom House Guide will feature The Internationa Port of Memphis as its “Port of the Month” this summer. What it does is make the mesity is perfect. As crude oil hovers sage that we’ve been saying around $140 per barrel and gas more profound.” prices continue to reach new “In selecting which ports to feature as HIGHLIGHTS THE MESSAGE highs, being featured as “Port of the Month” AND MORE TO COME monthly ports, we decided to focus on not For those who don’t know what Memphis will showcase Memphis’ innumerable benThe International Port of Memphis spans the largest ports, sort of the middle range of is about, they’ll find out in August when the efits – namely its versatile transportation 15 miles along the Mississippi River, covering ports,” Butler said. “Our interest was in trying U.S. Custom House Guide unveils its review network and central location – for importers, both the Tennessee and Arkansas sides. The to look around the country geographically as of the city’s port. shippers and anyone whose business involves port has 68 waterfront facilities, 37 of which well, since we serve a nationwide audience.” Harry Butler, the guide’s editor, said the the movement of goods. are terminal facilities that move products such Butler said the publication’s target audipublication includes a directory of all U.S. “We have all the modes of transportaas petroleum, tar, asphalt, cement, steel, coal ence is U.S. importers and the service compaCustoms ports of entry and spotlights one port tion – we have five Class I railroads, the Misand grains. nies that offer them assistance, such as cuseach month. The selection of Memphis was sissippi River, two interstate highways, the toms brokers, transportation providers and mostly random, although the city’s merits as a largest cargo airport in the world,” McCrory Continued on page 26 third-party logistics firms. It tries to provide global distribution center came into play. said. “That’s what Memphis is about.”

For the 25th time, Northwestern Mutual has been named FORTUNE® magazine’s “Most Admired”company. And for the 25th time, we’re extremely honored. We are honored to be the only company named Fortune magazine’s “Most Admired” in its industry for the 25th time. And we are committed to continuing to do what’s earned us such respect: helping families let their worries go. From our financial representatives who help clients achieve financial security to the Northwestern Mutual Foundation whose charitable donations help society at large, we are thankful to all who make everything we accomplish possible.

The Burch Group has over $8 billion of Northwestern Mutual life insurance in force. Edward A. Burch, CLU,® ChFC® Managing Partner The Burch Group 6060 Poplar Avenue, Suite 200 Memphis, TN 38119 (901) 761-7794 edward.a.burch@nmfn.com www.nmfn.com/burchgroup 05-2779 ©2008 The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, Milwaukee, WI (NM). Edward A. Burch is a General Agent of NM. Registered Representative of Northwestern Mutual Investment Services, LLC, a wholly-owned company of NM, broker dealer and member FINRA and SIPC. NM and The Burch Group are not broker-dealers. FORTUNE® magazine, March 17, 2008. 8098-582


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FHA Continued FROM page 7

few years. And FHA has its own mortgage insurance requirement: 1.5 percent up front plus a monthly mortgage insurance equal to 0.5 percent of the total mortgage amount divided by 12. But it’s still the best opportunity – perhaps the only one – for many people to get a home. “If someone’s got a minimum down payment – only 3 percent to invest – I don’t see any reason not to do the FHA as long as they’re not buying a house that exceeds $271,050,” Wiegert said. “That captures a lot of people in the Memphis area.” n

Bar Internship Continued FROM page 15

for the students and their parents. In welcoming the group, Amundsen talked of a renewed commitment to diversity in the local bar. She referred to the June 6 start date – known as the anniversary of the 1944 D-Day invasion of Normandy during World War II – as Diversity Day. Also on hand was Criminal Court Judge John Fowlkes, Circuit Court Judge Robert Childers, divorce referee Patricia Odell and U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Paulette J. Delk, a former University of Memphis law school professor. Wharton garnered the most recognition among the students and their parents. The teenagers eagerly assembled on the courthouse steps for group pictures with the mayor. n

Riverfront Control Continued FROM page 8

leadership role. “I agree you all have the expertise and the ability,” she said. “But still, the RDC should not be driving what is presented to this council. It’s almost appearing like the city has basically turned over facets of the city to different organizations, but then they want to come back to us and we’ve got to fund it. “When I hear some of these directors talk about their expertise in these management groups – I mean, the management used to be our management and now you’re outside of our management, even though you’re the one who knows how to do all of this. It almost looks like we’re paying twice for something we should

Condo Auction Continued FROM page 12

The company also would consider another auction later. “The auction will tell us a lot. It will give us an indication of the depth of the market.

Bank of bartlett Continued FROM page 17

billion worth, according to figures from the CCC – Byrd said a figure like $50 million or $60 million might not sound like much in comparison. But his informal tabulation shows that Bank of Bartlett has invested tens of millions of dollars Downtown, an amount that likely tops $30 million. The result of all that funding sloshing through the pipeline includes several development and construction loans Bank of Bartlett has been involved with on Mud Island with the development team of Kevin Hyneman and Jeff Bronze. “We’ve done probably six or seven condo conversions and ground-up projects

Cold Stone Creamery Continued FROM page8

pretty steady sales throughout the time they were open.” Time for some introspection The Cold Stone Creamery store in Collierville grossed almost $260,000 in sales in 2006 and a little more than $270,000 in 2007, according to the Chapter 7 filing. Gross sales for the Ridgeway store were about $251,000 in 2006 and 2007. Corporate information from Cold Stone Creamery puts the average unit volume a little higher than those amounts, at more than $380,000 per year. The franchise fee is $42,000, and potential owners are told to plan on investing between $294,250 and $438,850 to develop, equip and stock their stores. Guess said Cold Stone Creamery is evaluating its options for the Collierville store and hasn’t made a decision related to any new franchisee. “When a franchisee chooses to leave the operation, whatever the reason may be, we have an area developer – which is sometimes an independent group or Cold Stone Creamery acting as area developers – evaluate the situation,” she said. “We’ll evaluate the location, the (profit and loss) of the store, and then we’ll make a decision as to whether or not it makes sense to find a new franchisee or if the location appears to not be one that could be a profitable, successful operation for the next franchisee.” n

have been doing as a city anyway.” Duckett said those comments touch on a philosophical issue about the way a city should operate. And the RDC contends a process is in place to keep it from being able to operate completely independent of the will of elected leaders. “I commend the city mayor. He realized in order to grant long-term stability to redesign the riverfront, there needed to be a constant body whose sole purpose was focusing on that,” Duckett said. “Now, the checks and balances implicit in his desire to move this plan forward were twofold. “One, the way the entity was structured, it is populated with officials from city government. Two, we can’t do anything without coming to this body and asking this body for funding.” n

It will give us an indication of the level of interest people have in being Downtown,” Maerz said. “We think it’s strong, we’re looking forward to a successful auction and not having to sell units after the auction is over. However, we never know until the auction occurs.” n

with (Downtown developer) Phil Woodard,” Byrd said. “We’ve financed a significant number of custom homes on the South Bluffs and in other places for lawyers, judges and just people at large. Elsewhere, we’ve done a shopping center at North Main, which is across the street from The Pyramid. It has a gas station and a few other things there.” Other Bank of Bartlett developments in the area include a bed-and-breakfast and a condo development at 95 South Main St. “I believe Downtown will continue to prosper. And it will continue to prosper because of the drivers that are down there,” Byrd said. “We believe in it and we feel like it’s important.” n

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M E M P H I S L AW TA L K

Holland Uses Holistic Law To Solve Problems Peacefully By REBEKAH HEARN The Memphis News Lisa Kelly is a sole practitioner who concentrates in a wide variety of areas, ranging from criminal and civil litigation to corporate transactions. Kelly has been in practice for three years since she received her juris doctorate from the University of Memphis in 2005. Currently, she is the vice chair for the Memphis Bar Association’s Access to Justice Committee. Kevin Balkwill, the current chair, will step down in the fall, handing over the reins to Kelly. The Access to Justice Committee focuses on pro bono work. Kelly received the MBA’s 2007 President’s Award for outstanding pro bono efforts. Prior to attending law school, Kelly was a part of a number of fundraising activities for the United Way, the Ronald McDonald House and soup kitchens. Kelly was also a Special Olympics coach.

Name: Lisa Kelly Position: Sole practitioner Basics: Kelly will become chair of the Memphis Bar Association’s Access to Justice Committee this fall.

“I believe in civil rights, I believe in humanity, and I believe in preserving human dignity through the practice of law.” Q: Why did you choose to practice in such a wide variety of areas? A: I started as a banking and securities attorney, but with the economy, the business was drying up. After that, I did some insurance defense litigation, but our main client moved, and I recently married, and I wanted to work for myself. So I’ve got kind of a broad background in some niche areas, and I enjoy practicing. I enjoy litigation; I enjoy the law. Q: What did you do to earn the MBA’s 2007 President’s Award for outstanding pro bono efforts? A: I came in and helped market and implement Pro Bono Month, which is now an annual event sponsored by the Memphis Bar Association in connection with Memphis Area Legal Services. The idea behind Pro Bono Month is (that) a lot of attorneys are so busy with their practice that they can’t stop during the week for three hours on a Thursday afternoon. So we said, let’s do three clinics a month, and we’ll title them. The idea was to get attorneys through the door, because after attorneys have been in practice for a while, (they) find that they tend to narrow their focus. A lot of attorneys weren’t sure what (type of case) would walk through the door, so they were reluctant to come because they thought it would be a bunch of clients with stuff that’s out of (their) practice areas. So we built each clinic that month under a different area of practice to get people down there. It really did help get attorneys more comfortable with giving basic legal advice. David Cook, the ex-president of the MBA, has been a mentor to me. He has the motto that “any attorney is better than no at-

torney.” That’s been the philosophy that’s helped me with my practice. Any case you get, you’re going to have to get competent on it. So I just say I’m willing to get competent in more areas than most. I think certain basic skills of an attorney (are universal) and it’s just the rest of it that you have to do the legwork on. Q: As the current vice chair of the Access to Justice Committee and the incoming chair in the fall, is there anything about the committee you’d like to change or see done differently? A: I’m very excited about it. Kevin (Balkwill) has done an amazing job in getting a great committee together. There aren’t many things I would change about what Kevin’s done. I’d like to build along what Kevin’s done; I’d like to continue along the path that he’s set. We took Pro Bono Month and that one Saturday Legal Aid Clinic and turned it into a monthly event. We’ve really tried to target not only attorneys, but communities. We’ve gone to Whitehaven, the inner-city, Glenview, we’ve gone Downtown; we just try to go where the need is. I want to continue to find the needs in the community and ways to fill them. I recently partnered with a great attorney, and we were able to stave off (a) foreclosure sale. (The bank was) selling the house, (but) they hadn’t properly foreclosed on it. So now that we’ve really muscled the bank, they’re coming to the table and they’re going to work it out.

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M E M P H I S S TA N D O U T

Toyos Honored For Post-Katrina Eye Care By ROSALIND GUY The Memphis News And many have had to start over in new cities, at new jobs and sometimes without health care. DR. ROLANDO TOYOS KNOWS THAT. Immediately after the storm ravaged New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, evacuees began flooding into Memphis. And Toyos, who opened Toyos Clinic in 2000, immediately began offering free medical and surgical eye care to them. Toyos was recognized for his efforts last month by the Jazz Foundation of America at its annual concert and benefit at the Apollo Theater in New York City. Some of the patients from New Orleans were displaced jazz musicians and one, Ste-

Name: Dr. Rolando Toyos Position: Founder,MedicalDirector Company: ToyosClinic Basics: Toyos was honored May 29 at an awards ceremony in New York for his efforts to provide free eye care to displaced New Orleans residents.

“Our clinic is always open to anyone who needs our help. It was our privilege to take care of the Katrina victims, including the many musicians who came our way.” – Dr. Rolando Toyos phen Foster, was instrumental in Toyos receiving the recognition. Foster, who still is receiving care from Toyos and is scheduled to undergo eye surgery in the near future, shared Toyos’ efforts with the Jazz Foundation of America.

For many, Hurricane Katrina is a distant memory, a disaster that hit the Gulf Coast nearly three years ago. But for all the families and individuals directly affected, many still struggle daily to pull their lives back together.

SPECIAL HONOR, SPECIAL PLACE The May 29 event was the Jazz Foundation’s seventh annual “A Great Night in Harlem” event. It was hosted by actors Bill Cosby and Danny Glover and featured live performances from a number of jazz musicians.

MERCURO FIRING

scandals and investigations. Board member Kenneth Whalum Jr. said he came away from his encounters with Cash convinced he has the right “swagger, knowledge and experience” for the job. School board president Tomeka Hart said the school system’s general counsel planned to reach out to Cash to begin the contract negotiation process. She also said he’ll likely begin meeting one-on-one with school board commissioners as soon as he can. “The city of Memphis has a history deeply rooted in the pride of great people and the struggle toward a better day,” Cash said Tuesday. “I want this community to know a new day is dawning for Memphis City Schools and starting today – starting today – the sun is going to shine for the whole world to see on the mighty bluff of Tennessee.” n

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my contract was terminated,” Mercuro said. “I didn’t even know I had a contract.” A DIFFERENT WAY Cash, meanwhile, used general terms in his comments this week, but his thoughts on accepting the superintendent’s position suggest he intends to handle such matters in the future with a different touch. Speaking with school board commissioners by phone from the living room of his Florida home, Cash said he would work tirelessly to ensure more accountability in the district. The roughly $260,000-per-year job offer extended to Cash caps what was arguably a tumultuous year for the school district, which has been at the center of a variety of

Port Honors Continued FROM page23

In 2006 the port broke its own record when it received shipments totaling 19.1 million tons, or 2.7 percent of all the cargo shipped along the Mississippi, McCrory said. Moving goods along the river might be a choice more shippers make in light of the changing economy as fuel becomes more

“I am honored that the Jazz Foundation of America presented me with this award,” Toyos said. “Our clinic is always open to anyone who needs our help. It was our privilege to take care of the Katrina victims, including the many musicians who came our way.” Toyos also made sure his staff received credit for the honor. During an interview with The Daily News, Toyos said more than once that the credit should be shared with his staff. And, while acknowledging he doesn’t perform outreach work to garner accolades, Toyos said he did enjoy the attention he received in New York. “It was great, it was awesome, the music was awesome,” Toyos said. “We also had a

expensive. “Environmentally, it’s probably more desirable,” McCrory said. “The cents-permile for a gallon of fuel is better on the river, but of course not everything can be shipped on the river. Primarily we handle boat cargos – fuel, aggregate products like grain, coal – commodities that are relatively low in unit value, travel in high volumes that are not necessarily time-sensitive.”

benefit afterwards where we got to mingle with everybody, including the celebrities that were there. It was a nice evening of music and comedy and celebration.” WILLING TO HELP Toyos’ outreach work didn’t begin with his efforts following the Katrina disaster. He has been a member of the six-year-old organization EyeCare America, the foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, which promotes service among its associates.

law talk Continued FROM page 25

Maybe I’m still young in my practice and more bold than smart at this point, but I’m willing to try new things and be creative within the bounds of my ethical code. I’m willing to throw stuff up against the wall and see what sticks.

Toyos also has participated in mission trips offering eye treatment and surgery to underserved populations in Nicaragua, Honduras, Columbia and the Dominican Republic. The native Californian moved to West Tennessee 10 years ago after meeting with a recruiter from Jackson, Tenn., who was looking for someone to direct a neonatal intensive care unit at Jackson-Madison County General Hospital. “They were trying to recruit an ophthalmologist that had pediatric ophthalmologic experience, which I have from working with Children’s Hospital in Chicago,” Toyos said. “And there was nobody doing LASIK and performing cataracts surgery, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to come to the area and use the skills I’d learned during residency.” He worked there for about seven years. Toyos received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Berkeley and Stanford University, respectively. Before moving to Chicago to attend medical school, he worked as a high school teacher and basketball coach. He received his medical degree in 1994 from the University of Illinois. While at Illinois, he received a community service award for helping the Chicago City Public Schools develop a pre-med program for students interested in medicine. He completed residencies at Northwestern University and Chicago Children’s Hospital. Since opening his practice eight years ago, Toyos has continued to provide services to those who might not otherwise be able to afford them, including Hispanic immigrants who don’t have medical insurance. In addition to the Memphis clinic, Toyos has an eye center in Jackson, Tenn. n

If I could change something, I would do more outreach to more small-town community bars and do what we could to help them set up the same resources. Q: Is there any case – historical or current – that you wish you could have been counsel on?

A: I used to do stuff all over this side of Nashville; I went to Tipton, Bolivar, Dyersburg. And I’m so blessed; I work in a community where I have a wonderful resource in the MBA. We all pull together, and not every community has that.

A: One of my favorite books is “To Kill a Mockingbird.” I read it as a young girl, and it’s one of the reasons I got into the practice of the law, so if there was any case I could have been a part of, it would have been the fictitious case in “To Kill a Mockingbird.” It’s what I strive for. I believe in civil rights, I believe in humanity, and I believe in preserving human dignity through the practice of law. n

But the port’s reach goes beyond what comes and goes on barge. The addition of Charlotte, N.C.-based Nucor Corp.’s steel mill at Frank C. Pidgeon Industrial Park on Presidents Island is making a big impact, along with the expansion of other companies. “The most exciting and interesting thing that’s happened at the port in the recent past is the advent of Nucor Steel locating here,”

McCrory said. “Cargill (Inc.), of course, is a major jewel in the crown. There are a lot of things.” And thanks to Memphis’ location, a lot more accolades could be coming the port’s way. “Transportation and distribution are what we’re best known for,” McCrory said, “and I think we’re going to continue to be recognized that way.” n

Q: If you could change anything about the way law is practiced today, what would it be?


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MEMPHIS NEWSMAKERS

U of M’s Palazolo Receives Engineering Education Award Dr. Paul Palazolo

F E A T U R E D N EWS M A K E R

Dr. Paul Palazolo, assistant dean and assistant professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Memphis’ Herff College of Engineering, has received the Peter G. Hoadley Award for Outstanding Engineering Educator from the Tennessee section of the American Society of Civil Engineers. The Hoadley Award is given annually to an engineering educator in the Tennessee section of ASCE who has made contributions to the society at the national, section or branch levels. Palazolo is a member of the board of directors and past president of ASCE West Tennessee.

Gina Yauger

Joey Bland

Dr. James Eason

David C. Rochester

By Rebekah Hearn The Memphis News

Dr. Marcy N. Ingram has joined Ford & Harrison LLP, a national labor and employment law firm, as an associate. Ingram focuses her practice on representing management in litigation and employment matters with a focus on discrimination, harassment and retaliation claims. Previously, she served as an assistant attorney for Shelby County government. She holds a doctorate in education from Trevecca Nazarene University. Gina Yauger has joined Paragon National Bank as a mortgage consultant. Prior to her career in mortgage lending, Yauger was a real estate agent and a member of the Memphis Area Association of Realtors Multi-Million Dollar Club. She is also a Lifetime Junior Auxiliary member. Shelia Thomas has joined the medical staff of Mid-South Maternal Fetal Medicine PC, a practice that specializes in treating highrisk pregnancies. Previously, Thomas worked as a family nurse practitioner at Memphis Primary Care. She has 13 years of obstetric nursing experience. Dr. Edward Stanford has been named division head of Gynecologic Services and Female Pelvic Medicine in OB/GYN for the

University of Tennessee Health Science Center. Stanford also will supervise reconstructive pelvic surgery (urogynecology) and serve as chief of Ambulatory Services within OB/GYN. Stanford serves as the adviser to the United Nations Population Fund – End Fistula Campaign and as temporary adviser to the World Health Organization on Fistula Research. Dr. James Eason, medical director for the Methodist University Hospital Transplant Institute, has been named an associate editor to the editorial board for the American Journal of Transplantation. John Weeden has been named executive director of the UrbanArt Commission. Weeden will oversee $500,000 to $900,000 annually in public money that finances artistic enhancements to public buildings and spaces. He holds a master’s degree in contemporary art history from the Sotheby’s Institute in London and a master’s degree from the Bard College Center for Curatorial Studies. David C. Rochester has been awarded an Accredited Investment Fiduciary designation. Rochester is a financial adviser for Shoemaker Financial, where he specializes

in personal retirement and estate distribution strategies as well as succession and pension strategies for closely held businesses. Joey Bland has been promoted to vice president of Kemmons Wilson Inc. He will oversee all Mid-South lifestyle communities developed by the company. Dr. Joseph Laver has been named clinical director and executive vice president for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Laver is a nationally recognized expert in pediatric oncology and bone marrow transplantation. Previously, he worked as chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center, where he held the Jesse Ball DuPont Professorship in Pediatrics. John D. Burleson has been appointed president of Rainey, Kizer, Reviere & Bell PLC’s Memphis and Jackson offices. Burleson is a partner with the firm and has more than 25 years of experience representing employers in the areas of workers’ compensation, employment law, municipal law and federal civil rights litigation. Previously, he served as leader for the firm’s Employment Law Group. n


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:WL_ddY_

DaVinci Italian Eatery plugs in to classic Italian flavor while variations of that famous face add flair.


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W

hen co-owner Sheri Bishop of Germantown’s new DaVinci Italian Eatery designed her interior with local artists’ interpretations of the “Mona Lisa,” she unwittingly set the tone for a menu of traditional favorites with a personalized twist. In the same manner, chef/co-owner Wade Long, in his new role as top chef, unleashed his culinary creativity with a bit of muscle. “The mussels – that’s the only thing I put my name on,” Long said of his “personally tweaked recipe.” L o n g ’ s s a u te e d mussells, served in a steaming bath of white wine and butter sauce, are his pride and joy: “That’s real Italian. Depending on what region you lived in, that’s what (Italians) ate.” And Long should know. He’s had a longrunning love affair with Italian cuisine since his years of service at Memphis pasta meccas such as Fino’s on the Hill in Midtown, Capriccio Grill at The Peabody, and his most recent venue, Mama Manello’s in Millington. “Just about all of my experience is in Ital-

ian, but I’ve done everything from Korean to Vietnamese to German and French,” he said. Midtowners might also remember him from the well-loved Asian bistro Lilly’s Dimsum Thensome in the Cooper-Young area. MUSIC TO THE MOUTH After connecting with Bishop, her husband, Ron (DaVinci’s general manager), and Michael Robilio, owner of Lucchesi’s, Long got the chance to make the best of his experi-

comes with a dish of sweet marinara with a perfect balance of spices to bring out the best of the crisp, stuffed pasta. The veal marsala, too, has just enough complexity in the sauce to accentuate the meat without stifling it. The eggplant parmesan – an often unforgiving vegetable entrée that is either perfect or ruined – is well worth a drive for patrons who don’t live near the restaurant. The eggplant is tender and firm, not meatless or tough. Again, the portion of sauce is reserved so you can

experience more intimately. The large-size entrees potentially offer larger families a price break as well. Long also is proud of his wine selections, all 20 bottles of which come from Italy. Desserts include a chocolatey take on tiramisu, vanilla ice cream and cheesecake, none of which are listed on the menu because Long chooses them from day to day. He also makes fresh pizza dough three times a day. Bishop’s “dressed-up casual” décor makes DaVinci a nice locale for business dinners or spontaneous escapes from the home kitchen. She chose a striking black and white checkerboard floor, wrought-iron chairs, and black tablecloths made vibrant by cranberry accent walls and fixtures. Opaque, black screens hung from the ceiling make a smooth hallway break between the dining room and the entrance. Of course, from every vantage point hangs the wry smile of Italy’s most famous damsel, in modes ranging from academic to whimsical. DaVinci Italian Eatery at 2037 Exeter Road, Suite 2, is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. n

Italian Eatery ence in designing a menu that shows off the complex flavor of simple dishes. “I saved the best for myself,” Long said. “I always knew I’d have my own place someday, and I’m going to save my best for that.” Long is from Memphis and a graduate of the Memphis Culinary Academy. Sauces, for example, the forte of any Italian mealtime aria, truly sing at DaVinci. Long’s toasted ravioli, bought fresh from Lucchesi’s,

actually taste the plant. The Italian spinach, mixed with garlic, olive oil, egg and parmesan is moist, light and firm. PER LA FAMIGLIA An array of portion-size offerings also makes DaVinci a standout. Entrees are served in single, regular and large sizes, encouraging couples and families to share their dining


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EVENTS BUSINESS The Sales and Marketing Society of the Mid-South will meet Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to noon at the Holiday Inn Select, Poplar Avenue at I-240. Michael Synk of In-Synk will present “The Three Most Important Pages Written for Business Leaders in the Past Twenty Years.” The cost is free for members, $25 for guests and $15 for students, with lunch included. Guests may pay at the door, while reservations can be made by call 937-5532 or e-mailing smsofmidsouth@comcast.net or visiting www.sms-midsouth.org. The Performance Excellence Association of the MidSouth (PerfX) will host its Lunch and Learn Series Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Shelby County Training Auditorium of the Peggy Edmiston Building, 1075 Mullins Station Road. Glenn D. Sessoms, vice president and chief diversity officer of FedEx Express, will be the guest speaker. The cost is $7 for PerfX members and $10 for nonmembers. For reservations, e-mail Harriet Browning at hjbrowning@comcast.net or leave a voicemail at 831-0230. The Memphis Regional Chamber will host its Metro Mixer Wednesday from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at The Food Bank, 239 Dudley St. Each guest is encouraged to bring two canned goods. The mixer is free for the first four employees of a member company, $10 for each additional employee and $20 for nonmembers. R.S.V.P. to Ericka Milford at 543-3518 or emilford@ memphischamber.com. Women on the Move will host Maryanne MacDonald, a professor, organizer and time management expert, Thursday at 11:30 a.m. at The Crescent Club, 6075 Poplar Ave., 9th Floor. MacDonald is the founder of Organize by Design and is a consultant and instructor on time management and organizational skills. For reservations, call 684-1010, Ext. 243.

Thompson, the former director of “The Wonders Series,” will present “The Search for Amelia Earhart.” The cost is $12 and no reservations are required. The Engineers’ Club of Memphis board will meet Monday at 5:30 p.m. at 5880 Ridge Bend Road. All the board members are strongly encouraged to attend. G O V E R N M E NT The Shelby County Administration Homeland Security Ad Hoc Committee will meet Wednesday at 10 a.m. in the fourth-floor conference room of the Shelby County Administration Building, 160 N. Main St. For more information, call Chief Administrator Steve Summerall at 545-4301. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Fair Housing Accessibility First program will present a free Fair Housing Accessibility Training session Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library, 3030 Poplar Ave. To register, visit www.fairhousingfirst. org and click on the “Calendar” link. LEGAL The Memphis Bar Association’s pictorial directory committee will meet Wednesday at noon at 80 Monroe Ave., Suite 220. For more information, call 527-3573. The MBA also is offering a continuing legal education credit (CLE) seminar on bankruptcy Friday from noon to 1 p.m. at 200 Jefferson Ave. Call the same number for more information.

The Women Business Owners Opportunities Conference, sponsored by Southwest Tennessee Community College, will be held Thursday and Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each day in Room 2009 of the Farris Building at the 5983 Macon Cove campus. The cost is $50 per person including breakfast and lunch. For more information or to register, call 333-4592 or visit www.tennesseewomen.org/wbooc.

The Young Lawyers Division of the MBA will host a CLE titled “A Review of the Best and Worst Dance Moves: Lessons from the Tennessee Waltz Trials” June 26 from 2:30 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. at the Doubletree Hotel, 185 Union Ave. The seminar is worth 3.0 CLE hours. Later that evening, happy hour will be at 6 p.m. followed by the Redbirds vs. New Orleans Zephyrs at 7:05 p.m. at AutoZone Park, 200 Union Ave. To sign up for either or both the CLE and baseball game, contact Hannah Newsom at 678-1562 or hnewsom@memphis.edu. For game and happy hour tickets only, contact Megan Arthur at Megan. Arthur@arlaw.com or 525-3234 or Beth Rainwater at brainwater@ domicokyle.com or 544-6378. The day’s events are being sponsored by The Data Company and The Daily News, The Memphis News’ sister publication.

The Engineers’ Club of Memphis Inc. will hold its weekly lunch meeting Monday at noon at the Holiday Inn-University of Memphis, 3700 Central Ave. Jon

Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC will host a roundtable discussion titled “Trademark Law vs. The Internet” Thursday from 11:30

a.m. to 1 p.m. at 165 Madison Ave, 20th floor. The event is free and lunch will be provided. For more information or to register, contact Nicolette Bethel at 577-2328 or nbethel@bakerdonelson.com. C O M M U N IT Y Loeb Properties Inc. will host a community blood drive Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the company’s headquarters, 825 Valleybrook Drive. For more details, call 761-3333 or visit www. loebproperties.com. MPACT Memphis will host its Dinner Club Thursday at 7 p.m. at Pearl’s Oyster House, 299 S. Main St. To R.S.V.P., e-mail Sam Erkulwater at slerkulwater@fedex. com. The First Tennessee Foundation will hold its “Celebrate What’s Right” luncheon series Thursday from noon to 1:15 p.m. at AutoZone Park, 200 Union Ave. Parking is available for a fee in the Toyota Plaza garage. “Champions for Children: Impacting a City, One Kid at a Time” is the topic, and several children’s rights advocates will be there. The cost is $16 and R.S.V.P.s should be made by contacting Didi Crandall at 527-4625, Ext.10, or dcrandall@ leadershipacademy.org. The Alliance for Nonprofit Excellence will host a workshop titled “Telling Your Story: Communications for Nonprofits” Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at The Assisi Foundation of Memphis, 515 Erin Drive. The cost is $65 for Alliance members, $55 for participants in the Program for Nonprofit Excellence and $99 for nonmembers. For more information or to register, contact April DeBerry at 684-6605 or adeberry@ npexcellence.org, or visit www. npexcellence.org for online registration. The Children’s Museum of Memphis is hosting the traveling exhibit “Curious George: Let’s Get Curious!” through Sept. 28 at the museum, 2525 Central Ave. The exhibit introduces children to Curious George’s world and leads visitors through an interactive math, science and engineeringbased “adventure.” Admission is $7 for children ages 1 to 12 and senior citizens, $8 for adults, and free for museum members and children younger than 1. For more information, call the museum at 458-2678 or visit www.cmom.com. Girls Inc. of Memphis is holding its annual Summer Camp through July 25 for girls between ages 6 and 18. The program is being offered at six of the Girls Inc. centers throughout the Memphis area. For more information, call Iris

Scott at 523-0217 or visit www. girlsincmemphis.org. The Memphis Botanic Garden will host a Nature Explore Workshop Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the garden, 750 Cherry Road. The Arbor Day Foundation and Dimensions Educational Research Foundation are co-sponsoring the workshop, which is designed to bring children closer to nature. The cost is $100 and includes all activities, materials, refreshments and lunch. For more information, contact JoAnn Rall at 402-476-8304 or e-mail info@ dimensionsfoundation.org. The Memphis Botanic Garden will host “Taste of the Garden: Japanese Cooking” Saturday at 10 a.m. The summer workshop series features cooking demonstrations by local chefs. The cost is $4 for MBG members and $6 for nonmembers. For more information, call 636-4100 or visit www.memphisbotanicgarden.com. The Memphis Farmers Market monthly dinner will be held Sunday at 6 p.m. at Circa by John Bragg, 119 S. Main St., Suite 100. Chef Bragg will host the second Dinner Tour featuring market produce and Circa’s global wines, served in a five-part tasting portion menu. The menu being served Sunday will be prepared with food Bragg will buy at the Saturday market. The price for the dinner is $65 plus tax and gratuity. Thirty percent of the money from the dinner will benefit the MFM. MPACT Memphis will host MPACT 101 Monday at 6 p.m. at Dish, 948 S. Cooper St. The meeting is an introduction for potential and new MPACT members. The one-hour reception offers new and prospective members a guide to getting involved with MPACT and general information about the organization. To R.S.V.P., e-mail Audra Bares at abares@gtxinc. com. Prairie Life Fitness is offering a Free Kids’ Fitness Assessment Tuesday at 10 a.m. at 3690 S. Houston Levee Road for children ages 8 to 13. About one of every three children in the U.S. is overweight or at risk of being overweight. This assessment will determine your child’s body mass index (BMI), cardiovascular endurance, strength and flexibility. To reserve a space for your child, call 857-8998. The Memphis Rotary Club will meet Tuesday at noon in Ballroom B of the Memphis Cook Convention Center, 255 N. Main St. The cost is $18 per person. R.S.V.P.s are required and can be made to Taylor Hughes at 526-1318 or taylor@ memphisrotary.org.

The Alliance for Nonprofit Excellence will host its New Member Orientation June 25 from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. at the Alliance, 606 S. Mendenhall, Suite 108. For more information, contact April DeBerry at 684-6605 or adeberry@ npexcellence.org. The Memphis Botanic Garden will host “Water Workshops for Educators: Project Wet” June 25 through June 27 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day at the garden, 750 Cherry Road. The workshop offers cooperative, hands-on learning and inspiration to teach about water, in or out of the classroom. The cost is $40. For more information, visit www. projectwet.org or www.wetland.org. The University of Tennessee Medical Group will host ophthalmologist Dr. Sarwat Salim, who will present a free seminar on “The Aging Eye” June 26 at 6:30 p.m. at the Germantown UTMG office, 7945 Wolf River Blvd. For reservations, call 347-8100. The Mid-South Area Pulmonary Hypertension Support Group will meet June 26 at 6 p.m. at Logan’s Roadhouse, 2710 N. Germantown Parkway. The guest speaker will be a nurse practitioner from Stern Cardiovascular. To make a reservation, contact Barbara Thompson at 251-1023 or barbarainmemphis@aol.com. The LoCash Cowboys, a country duo who are the featured act on the Redman Roadhouse tour, will perform June 27 at 11 p.m. at Alfred’s, 197 Beale St. Tickets are $10, payable at the door. For more information, visit www.redman.com. WUMR, the University of Memphis radio station, will wrap up its eightday “Jazz in June” Radiothon with a tribute to the late Dr. Bob McDowell, who served as the station’s general manager for 25 years. “An Evening of Jazz with Bill Easley and Friends” will be held June 29 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Owen Brennan’s at Poplar Avenue and Ridgeway Road. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door, and may be bought at Davis-Kidd Booksellers, 387 Perkins Road Ext. TH E A RT S The Memphis Botanic Garden will host two classes on “Abstract Art: Exploring Essentials” from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday and Saturday at the garden, 750 Cherry Road. Each class is the same; please choose one. The class will investigate how artists perceive fundamentals of color, shape, value, line and texture. Students provide their own materials and equipment, a list of which will be provided. The

cost is $120 for MBG members and $130 for nonmembers. To register, call 636-4128. The Orpheum Theatre will present “Cats” Friday through Sunday at the theater, 203 S. Main St. Show times are 8 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday. Tickets range from $20-60 and may be bought at the Orpheum Theatre Box Office at the theater, at Davis-Kidd Booksellers, 387 Perkins Road, at all Ticketmaster locations or by calling 525-3000. The Buckman Performing Arts Center at St. Mary’s School will hold an opening reception for “Unseen Journey: A Visual Narrative of Beauty in Places of Isolation” by Jennifer Goss Friday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Levy Gallery of the center, 60 Perkins Road Ext. For more information, call Penny Clark at 230-8929. The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art will host as part of its “Rockumentary Series” a film titled “Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten” Sunday at 2 p.m. in the Dorothy K. Hohenberg Auditorium in the museum, 1934 Poplar Ave. Ticket are available by calling 5446208 or at www.brooksmuseum.org. The Dixon Gallery and Gardens will host a three-day printmaking workshop with instructor Richard Gamble June 25 to 27 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Dixon, 4339 Park Ave. Students will explore the techniques associated with Impressionist printmaking: etching, drypoint and monotype. Materials are included in the price of the class, which is $95 for Dixon members and $120 for nonmembers. The class is for people ages 14 and older and reservations are required. Call the Dixon at 761-5252 for more information. The Dixon Gallery and Gardens will host Icelandic artist Steinunn Thorarinsdottir’s installation, “Horizons,” through Aug. 31 at the Dixon, 4339 Park Ave. The exhibit consists of 10 castiron, life-size figures standing amid the gardens. The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art’s exhibit, “The Prints of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again)” is on view through Sept. 7 at the museum, 1934 Poplar Ave. The exhibit offers an overview of the artist’s career through the prints he created from the 1960s to the 1980s. For more information, call the museum at 544-6208.


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Not everyone who reads The Memphis News is successful.

Not yet, anyway.

Visit TheM emph isNew s.com or call 683.N E WS

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‘P

P

environment’ Blurs Line Between Fine Art and Commercial Counterparts

T

JONAThAN DeViN Special to The Memphis News

he Memphis Brooks Museum of Art hopes to challenge artists and arts patrons with an exhibition designed to help viewers rethink the question, “What is art?” “The Pop Environment,” a collection of 1960s pop and pop-influenced works, also served as a prelude to a major Andy Warhol exhibition that opened late last week. It’s called “The Prints of Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again.” “Pop art has had a lasting effect on many artists,” said the Brooks’ chief curator Marina Pacini, who curates the exhibition, which runs until July 13. “It changed the way that we think about materials that are relevant or appropriate for art-making.”

Art (Movements in Modern Art).” “We decided it would be really fun to put up some pop and getting everyone thinking about it in anticipation of the Warhol exhibition,” Pacini said. In the 1960s, pop art startled the American arts landscape by integrating materials, themes and technologies that were commercial in nature, yet still put forth as fine art. Warhol, for example, used silk-screening for many of his most popular works, and Lichtenstein created paintings using textured sheets

deals with things that they recognize and can understand,” she said. “Some are confused or befuddled by modern art, and pop art doesn’t present those same challenges.” Indeed, it is something of a surprise when a viewer looks closely at the hypnotic iridescence of Lichtenstein’s “Moonscape” only to realize the pool of fluid blue is not paint, but plastic. Another Lichtenstein work, titled “Sweet Dreams, Baby!” shows the whimsy of comic book art. Pop artists also popularized people and

an exhibition that you can trace the history of the United States through his work,” Pacini said. “He had an excellent ability to select as his subject matter the things that were not only important in that moment, but (that) somehow remained important.” MATERIAL WORLD Around the corner from the masters, amusing pop-influenced works take the stage. For example, Lopez’s photographed portraits of colorized vintage automobiles display the historic, warm love affair between people and their cars. Chocolate is the medium used in another piece. The highly anticipated Warhol exhibit will run until Sept. 7. It includes 63 prints and five paintings of some of his most famous subjects, such as Marilyn Monroe, the Campbell’s Soup can, electric chairs and Elizabeth Taylor. The exhibition is being organized by the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. Pacini said she hopes people will see “The Pop Environment” as a chance to learn about the importance of pop art. “It’s a chance to come away viewing the world around you as full of meaning and value,” she said . n

“Pop art has had a lasting effect on many artists. It changed the way that we think about materials that are relevant or appropriate for art-making.”

THE GREAT POP CONTINUUM The exhibit includes works by – Marina Pacini famed creators of the genre such as Chief curator of Memphis Brooks Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Tom Wesselmann, as well as lesser-known artists who interpreted their works of Rowlux plastic, a packing material. A comic in similar themes, such as William Christenbook-like color palette of bright primary colberry, Marcos Lopez and Jenny Holzer. ors also is distinctive of the genre. The selections, many of which were pulled from the Brooks’ extensive permanent ART FOR THE MASSES collection, show the dramatic influence of the Pacini said she believes the use of familpop masters on more recent artists. iar materials brought the world of fine art to Pacini collaborated on the exhibition with everyday people. her husband, David McCarthy, a Rhodes Col“People really like it because so often it lege professor who authored the book “Pop

FIRST LADY FOREVER: Jacqueline Kennedy, wife of slain president John F. Kennedy, is immortalized as a pop icon in this Andy Warhol piece called “Jacqueline Kennedy III.”

Museum of Art themes from commercial media. Warhol’s silkscreen “Jacqueline Kennedy III” shows four window-paned images of the former first lady in black and white, as they would have appeared in a newspaper. The images convey the tragedy of Kennedy’s life while framing her as a pop icon. “One of the things that I love about Andy Warhol is that you realize as you walk through

Illustration by: Kevin Massey


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SWEET, INDEED: Commercial art meets fine art in this Lichtenstein piece titled “Sweet Dreams, Baby!”

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Flight’s Connotations Too Simplistic W

hile the days of perfectly coifed suburban housewives vacuuming in frilly dresses and high heels are gone – if they ever existed at all – suburban living is far from over. In the Memphis area it’s a thriving business doing a brisk trade even in a faltering

economy. And it’s not just home to white, upwardly mobile, SUV-owning conservatives, as developer Henry Turley points out in his “Hope, Not Fear” commentary, although a goodly number of upwardly mobile people do live in the suburbs, if property values are any indication. The most current tax rolls for all of Shelby County show the largest percentage growth in property values is occurring in suburban areas such as Arlington, Collierville and Lakeland, sometimes in the double digits year to year. Arlington, for example, grew fastest from 2007 to 2008, with its overall property values jumping 12.2 percent. On many levels, Memphis suburbs continue to attract families who want a smaller property tax burden. They want better schools and less crime. Not white families. Not black families. But, simply, families – people – who want to live better if they possibly can. Even if it means a longer drive to work each day. That’s the American way, isn’t it? Go west young, man – or, in Memphis’ case, east to Collierville or Fayette County, south to DeSoto County or north to Tipton County. Wherever peace or a higher quality of life can be found is where most folks want to be. Sure, there are those who prefer to live among others who look, talk, act and spend like themselves, or even enclose their neighborhoods within walls and gates just because they can. Or because the thought of living in a less monochromatic way is too far outside their comfort zones. But boiled down to its essence, flight from the city limits is more complicated than race

Guest Commentary

or socioeconomic status alone, as Arlington business owner Sandy Brewer points out in her commentary below. In many instances, it comes down to where you feel most at home. While factors such as race and class do figure in to the continued exodus across city and county lines, at least some suburban homes probably have non-traditional family units and are headed by members of every race and class imaginable right alongside the white Anglo-Saxon protestants. But those same houses – traditional, nontraditional and otherwise – are near what most local people agree are better schools with better opportunities for children to learn in peace and safety. Generally, the taxes are lower too. While suburban residents might pay county property taxes ($4.04 per $100 of assessed valuation), their city taxes usually are smaller than the $3.25 per $100 of valuation paid by their counterparts in the city of Memphis. Are there drawbacks to living farther out? Sure. As Turley observes, subdivisions built to chase after schools might not be planned as well, and houses might look almost exactly the same row after row after row, mile after mile. Infrastructure might not be as established or as well run, routed or wrought.

But if your child is facing the prospect of a failing city school where he or she could be mugged or even shot, and you have the means to move to the suburbs but not enough discretionary income to send the child to a private school, what are you going to do? Well, move, of course. For the many reasons we choose to live where we live, we all make those places our homes. That means our reasons for staying will continue to evolve just as surely as the roots of a tree spread and change the terrain beyond simply providing shade. The generation seeking the suburbs in the 1970s and 1980s now has children for whom a Downtown or urban environment is a curiosity. The location doesn’t come with the same baggage it once did. And the same is true for the suburbs. Points on a map shouldn’t come with expectations or limits on what they can become simply because of where they are (or have been). That’s an easy way for us to walk away from our responsibility to build a community that welcomes and encourages the best in everyone – those who want to remain for the rest of their lives and those who will continue their search. n

Suburban Life: There’s No Place Like Home

New Residential Developments Should Be Built With Hope, Not Fear

Sandy Brewer is an active Arlington resident and business owner who used to live in Memphis.

Developer Henry Turley is the founder of the Henry Turley Co. Among Turley’s most memorable projects is Harbor Town, a New Urbanist community he began in 1989 in conjunction with Jack Belz of Belz Enterprises. Other notable projects include The Lofts on Tennessee Street and the Paperworks Building on Front Street.

By SANDY BREWER Special to The Memphis News When my family moved to Arlington almost three years ago, the school system and beautiful new home developments were the main reason we chose this area. It wasn’t long before we realized that was only a small part of what makes Arlington such a great place to live. Building a new home was our plan, but the more we became familiar with our new hometown, the more we realized how much we loved the town’s historic area. We soon moved into a 100-year-old house that just seemed to find us. So many of the families in Arlington have lived here for generations, but as newcomers we have always felt a part of the community. Getting involved just felt right. After driving through the town’s historic Depot Square and seeing all of the history that has been preserved by Arlington’s APTA (Association for the Preservation of Tennessee Antiquities) and the updates the town had done, I knew this was where I wanted to start my own business – The Travel Agency. Looking out the front windows of my office along Walker Street, in a beautifully preserved store that is more than a century old, I feel like I have moved back in time. No hustle and bustle of the big city, but people driving by, waving and stopping to say good morning or asking how your family is doing by name. Many other citizens of Arlington obviously have the same vision. Historic buildings, which would normally be destroyed, instead have been renovated to reflect their original era.

New buildings are being built to preserve the historic look of the area, and new and old businesses and business owners come together to “Keep the Heart of Arlington Alive,” as our slogan says. There is such a diverse group of businesses, such as the old general store, SY Wilson’s, the oldest continuously operated business in Shelby County still owned by the original family and that now sells antiques and collectables. A church, a Realtor, a quilt shop, a florist, a children’s clothing store, a dance studio, a Masonic lodge and home décor gift shops are just a few of the businesses that make this area different than any other in Shelby County. We even opened Arlington’s first farmer’s market in a joint venture last July. When you walk into Oliver’s Barber Shop, it is like being back in Mayberry, where the conversation is free and the haircuts aren’t bad either. The restaurants are like nothing you’ll find anywhere else, from catfish and the best fried dill pickles and hushpuppies at The Cotton Gin, the best homemade desserts and cheese biscuits at The Grapevine Tearoom, to Vinegar Jim’s with the best steak and fried pies in town. And Bogie’s Deli is the newest addition. Arlington still has a small-town atmosphere but is home to any number of events and activities. Two associations, one commission, one club and two businesses later, it makes me thankful everyday that we chose to be part of such a great community. n

By HENRY TURLEY Special to The Memphis News White flight is a thing of the past. Now the mass migration from the city to the suburbs and beyond is not white; it’s middle class, and it’s not flight; it’s just good sense. The middle class leaving the city is based on sound economics. It’s simple Wal-Mart logic: In the suburbs, you get more value for less money. Leaving the city saves a young family from a quarter to half on property taxes, even though driving costs offset the savings. The difference is in the schools. With very few exceptions, city schools are not acceptable and private schools cost $5,000 to $20,000 per child per year. That’s $10,000 to $40,000 for the typical family with two kids. And that’s also the cost of a house note, so the math is simple and unarguable. The average Memphian becomes a former Memphian. But moving is not something we want to do regularly, so we try to do it right. We stretch a bit and get everything we can in our house – the options the builder sells, the extra rooms for various eventualities we imagine; and since our home is such a clear extension of ourselves, we add what it takes to express ourselves well to our friends. So we put financial pressure on ourselves. And we create the high expectations that come from great efforts. We set ourselves up for a little disappointment when things aren’t as perfect as we hoped. And, regrettably, they are not. The list of short-

comings in the places we are building – traffic, homogeneity, isolation – goes on endlessly and has been rehashed in many forums, but there are a couple of fundamental reasons we build our new places less well than we want. We’re not moving to a place we want to be. Rather, we’re getting away from Memphis. It’s more about what we’re leaving than what we’re going to. So those who create our new environment, the developers, the builders and the new urban government, are not compelled to create great places. While there is some competition between subdivisions and small towns, the general quality and the general direction that we move is pretty well pre-determined. Then we, who had to move in the first place, add to the problem. We don’t want to do it again, so in our new home, we act defensively. We create distance. We build walls. We zone and codify so as to exclude behaviors and people we fear might cause us to have to move again. And we’ve loaded ourselves with that financial pressure, too. This is not very healthy. It would be better if we collaborated to build a better Memphis with better arithmetic. Then we would be able to build excellent new places based in hope, not fear. n


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