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Austin-based burger chain to open in Overton Square

Another interesting new burger and sandwich concept is making its Memphis market entry as Hopdoddy Burger Bar plans an autumn opening in Overton Square.

Hopdoddy, which is slated to open at 6 South Cooper Street, joins places like Burgerim on Highland Avenue, which opened late last year, and Hattie B.’s Hot Chicken, which opens later this year in Midtown, as new food options from companies that chose Memphis for their most recent expansions.

Renovations start this month on a 3,500-square-foot space previously occupied by Yolo Frozen Yogurt across the street from the new Ballet Memphis facility.

“In its hometown of Austin, Tex., Hopdoddy is a popular neighborhood restaurant and hangout as well as a terrific spot to sample local brews,” said Ciara Neill, director of marketing for Loeb Properties.

“Hopdoddy will support Memphis breweries by continuing to focus on serving local beers with top-notch service in a relaxed, modern atmosphere.”

Hopdoddy grinds its meats in-house daily and offers a wide variety of fresh, all-natural proteins like Angus beef, Akaushi beef, chicken and sushi-grade tuna served on baked-from-scratch buns.

The restaurant also offers hand-cut Kennebec fries, farm fresh salads, and handcrafted milkshakes, as well as local craft beers and a full bar with regional spirits, house-made liqueurs and freshly squeezed juices.

The architect for the renovation is brg3s architects, and the general contractor is Grinder Taber Grinder. While the building currently measures just under 2,100 square feet, a new 1,420-square-foot addition to the north side of the building will expand the space with roll-up garage doors, patio space and updated interior.

“The specifics of the design are currently being finalized, but the footprint of the building will be enlarged, exterior upgrades will be applied to both the new hopdoddy space and the existing Lenny’s Sub Shop space, and the interior of the hopdoddy space will be completely renovated,” said Neill.

Memphis will be one of the first markets in the Southeast for the company, which makes one of the “The Best Burgers in America” according to Food & Wine. It was named the No. 1 burger joint in America for three straight years according to Business Insider’s list of “The 50 best burger joints in America”. Founded in 2010 in Austin, hopdoddy now has locations across Texas, Arizona, Colorado and California.


Art installation highlights newly enhanced Edge intersection

New streetscape enhancements and an art installation by local public artist Cat Peña are helping to reshape the Medical District and Edge neighborhood making streets and intersections like the one at Monroe and Marshall avenues more walkable and pedestrian-friendly.

A free public celebration was held on the afternoon of March 9 to mark the opening of the art installation, which features a huge wave of blue streamers flying over the intersection. The fluttering installation is titled “There’s More to be Proud Of.”

The Memphis Medical District Collaborative has partnered with the City of Memphis to create a pedestrian plaza at Monroe and Marshall avenues.

The MMDC and the Edge neighborhood approached the city about doing a more formalized version of the highly successful MEMFix community revitalization event held in October 2014.

“We want this to be a walkable neighborhood,” said Steven Edwards, engineer with the City of Memphis who worked to shrink the wide intersection. “We’ll be able to take lessons learned from this project and apply them to other areas of the city,”

He cites the University of Memphis area and Orange Mound as places that have requested walkable streetscape improvements.




















At Monroe and Marshall, new striping and crosswalks were painted, and adding a bump out area with large concrete planters, benches, café tables and seating shrunk the cornering radius for automobiles driving through the intersection.

Similar enhancements were also completed at Pauline Street and Jefferson Avenue and Pauline and Madison Avenue.

“If you make that more restricted, drivers will slow down,” said Edwards. “Dropping the radius down to about 15 feet means a car will go about 10 miles per hour. Anything faster than that will get more uncomfortable. So that gives them more time to sight a pedestrian before they go across the crosswalk.

It makes a much safer environment and makes everybody feel a lot better about being here.”

The metal poles supporting the art exhibit are from the old traffic light that had hung at the stop. Those poles were adapted to be able to hold the weight of the art installation, which would become extra heavy with snow, ice, or heavy winds. Two new wooden poles were also added to provide the additional needed support.

More streetscape improvements throughout the Medical District and Edge neighborhood will be happening over the next few years as part of the area’s master development plan. The MMDC started with renovating seven intersections last year and hopes to be able to redo five to ten per year.


$33M Sedgwick HQ will create 150 jobs

Thanks to a $10.4 million, 15-year expansion payment-in-lieu-of-taxes incentive from the Economic Development Growth Engine Sedgwick Claims Management Services, Inc. will consolidate and expand its two current locations in Memphis into one global headquarters at 8155 T&B Boulevard in East Memphis.

Sedgwick, which was founded in 1969, has grown into a global provider of technology-enabled risk and benefits solutions, delivering cost-effective claims management, risk consulting, and other services at 275 offices located in the United States, Canada, U.K., and Ireland.

“Sedgwick is a great local company, one that is a community advocate and very engaged in the community,” said EDGE President and CEO Reid Dulberger. “They did their due diligence and looked at other communities, and they ultimately concluded that Memphis offered them the best chance for success and continued growth in their company.”

Construction will get underway on the 245,808-square-foot facility at 8155 T&B Blvd. early next year. The building’s current tenant, electrical component manufacturing company Thomas & Betts Corp., is currently searching for new space.

The terms of the PILOT for Sedgwick include the company retaining 865 jobs, creating 130 new jobs, and making $33 million worth of capital investments to its new global headquarters located at 8155 T&B Boulevard. Sedgwick is also required to spend at least $4 million with certified locally owned businesses.

EDGE estimates a total of $72.3 million worth of local tax revenues will be generated by the PILOT across the 15-year term.

The firm had other low-cost options to move to one of their facilities in Atlanta, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, LA and Portland, but chose to remain in Memphis.

“Very often we find that we simply don’t have those kind of resources or programs available to us,” he said.

“With a company like Sedgwick, obviously we were able to prevail nonetheless with a combination of the quality of our community, the fact that they are here and an ingrained part of the community, and we were able to put a tax abatement on the table with the state of Tennessee participating in the incentive package.”

Sedgwick joins a trend of corporations that have chosen to remain and expand their corporate headquarters in Shelby County, including Evergreen Packaging, International Paper, LEDIC, and ServiceMaster.   


The Bluff brings the bayou to the Highland Strip

The Bluff Brings the Bayou to the Highland Strip
 
The Bluff on Highland Avenue is open for business following extensive interior renovations including the addition of a stage, a second-floor mezzanine and multiple bars.
 
Those additions are joined by other Highland Strip-wide exterior renovations including a new sign for both the Strip and The Bluff.
 
“Looking at it from the front, you have no idea of the actual size of it,” said co-owner Nickle Smith of the nearly 6,000-square-foot space. “We saw an opportunity with the high ceilings, brick walls, and exposed beams to really do something great in here.”
 
The Cajun-inspired menu features items like alligator bites, poboys, catfish, all Gulf Coast seafood including shrimp and crawfish and Leidenheimer bread from New Orleans.
 
“We make from scratch anything that we can like homemade gumbo and etouffee,” said Smith, who grew up in Tupelo and has lived in Memphis for the past two years.
 
“Everything’s hand-battered and made to order. We really pride ourselves on our food here.”
 
They will soon introduce a Sunday brunch with live musical entertainment.
 
“We have huge garage doors that we can open up and give it an indoor/outdoor feel,” said Smith. “Right now, we are also having a DJ here on Thursday nights and live bands on Friday and Saturday nights.”
 
The Bluff, which employs a staff of 45 features more than 100 linear feet of bars and a large private patio in the back.
 
“We have three separate bars in the building, including one on the second floor mezzanine, one up front with 12 beers on tap – mostly Memphis local or craft beers from the area – and our largest bar downstairs in the main hall,” said Smith.
 
“We’ve had a lot of rentals already for the second floor. It has its own private restrooms, we have seven or eight TV’s up there, and you can also see the main room, the stage and the band, so you can have your own private party.”
 
During the recent renovations the rear parking lot was also upgraded and expanded, and new exterior security features were added throughout the Highland Strip.

Memphis steps in as national leader in blight abatement with launch of code enforcement academy

Memphis will share its best practices learned in the fight against blight at the the first Strategic Code Enforcement Academy, which will provide technical training and assistance to code enforcement officers from around the country.

The new program, which launches in May, will examine ways to streamline the process of cleaning up vacant and blighted properties, an effort that has accelerated in recent years with the founding of groups such as the Blight Authority of Memphis and decrees like the Blight Elimination Charter.

The academy is part of a larger anti-blight strategy happening in cities similar to Memphis like Cleveland and Baltimore.

“We’ve talked for a couple of years about having this kind of teaching, training and study tool particularly designed to provide support to people at the management and policy making level,” said Kermit Lind, senior faculty for the Strategic Code Enforcement Academy and fellow at Neighborhood Preservation, Inc.

The University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law and Neighborhood Preservation, Inc., with support from the Kresge Foundation, are taking applications for the inaugural academy taking place in Memphis on May 18 and 19.

“Not only is it fortunate to have the two institution helping us get this launched, but Memphis itself is a great laboratory to illustrate the points we want to talk about,” said Lind. “The academy will have the effect of enriching Memphis, and the work will serve as a model for other areas of the country.”

The curriculum for the intensive two-day conference will focus on issues like assessing the code compliance situation in Memphis, looking for strengths and weaknesses, examining laws and legal processes and how they affect the courts, the problem of absentee investor owners of multiple properties with a pattern of non-compliance, and the use of technology to get data faster from the point of inspection to decision-making.

“It’s very challenging because the field of housing and neighborhood code-making and implementing is changing rapidly at the moment because of the changes in the housing economy,” said Lind. “The overall financial crisis of the past ten years has pilfered a lot of things that affect how communities are able to maintain themselves.”

Up to 40 participants will be selected for the first academy representing five or six cities. Each delegation will be given the opportunity to build strategies that will address the unique problems and challenges facing their community.

Faculty for the academy will include Lind; Neighborhood Preservation president Steve Barlow; Joe Schilling, senior faculty for the academy and Neighborhood Preservation Fellow; and Danny Schaffzin, director of experiential learning at the University of Memphis School of Law.


Food desert no more: Grocery, retail and jobs on the way to Binghampton Gateway

Construction officially got underway on the Binghampton Gateway Center on February 22. 

The $6.8 million project will create 55 jobs and will bring a new Save-A-Lot grocery store, Dollar Tree store, and other retail to a formerly blighted area classified as a food desert, with a lack of healthy food options for nearby residents.
 
“This project is interesting because it’s a big, vacant piece of property that is very, very visible,” said John Lawrence, EDGE Manager of Strategic Economic Development Planning.

“There are 8,000 people that live within walking distance of this location, and there are about 3,000 homes in this general neighborhood. So access to the grocery and Dollar Tree are big benefits, and there will be 7,000 square feet of other retail associated with this project.”
 
Lawrence hopes the Binghampton Gateway Center will help to enliven the area and connect East Memphis to Midtown through the Tillman/Broad Avenue corridor.

“We’re excited about it because it serves the neighborhood, and we think it could serve a much larger geography due to the amount of traffic going through there,” said Lawrence.
 
The project was the first recipient of the EDGE Community Builder Payment-in-Lieu-of-Taxes incentive, which was created to spark investment and job creation in distressed areas of Memphis and unincorporated Shelby County. The property tax freeze is tailored specifically to aid community development groups looking to tackle larger projects. 
 
Developer Binghampton Development Corp. received a 15-year Community Builder PILOT from EDGE, with a 75 percent tax abatement.
 
“What we offered to them early in the process was our Community Builder PILOT,” said Lawrence. “As we have evolved as an organization, we really want to figure out ways to get development, primarily jobs, closer to workers and really get our arms around how we can redevelop older sites in the city itself and in the core of the city.”
 
Linkous Construction is the general contractor on the five-acre, 50,000-square-foot development, and Fleming Architects designed the plans.

The only other approved Community Builder PILOT thus far is for a potential grocery store in vacant building on Danny Thomas Boulevard in Uptown that was previously a Kroger but has now sat empty for many years.

New homes replace blighted apartment complex in Hickory Hill

Nine families received the keys to their new homes this past weekend in the new $40 million Eden Square mixed-use community in the Hickory Hill area.
 
“The beautiful thing about Eden Square is that it’s kind of like a phoenix that rises from the ashes because it used to Marina Cove apartments, which was an eyesore for the Hickory Hill community for a long time,” said Dr. Stacy Spencer, New Direction Christian Church senior pastor and president of the Power Center Community Development Corp.
 
Gestalt Power Center Academy Middle School and Performing Arts Center were the first buildings to be completed inside Eden Square last year as part of Phase I construction.
 
More homes will be completed in the Habitat for Humanity-sponsored 43-acre community over the next two years. 
 
“So we partnered with the City of Memphis to knock down that development and put up in its place Eden Square to bring hope, vitality and sustainability back to the area.”

Project sponsors and partners celebrated Feb. 25 with a dedication event in the new neighborhood.
Project partners and sponsors include the PCCDC, New Direction Christian Church, Habitat for Humanity, the City of Memphis division of Housing and Community Development, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati and Bank of Bartlett.
 
“This is just the beginning. We hope to build about 50 more homes by the end of 2018,” said Spencer.
 
The first-time homebuyers had to meet Habitat for Humanity’s criteria of a demonstrated need, the ability to repay the zero-interest mortgage and the willingness to partner.
 
The selected homebuyers attend a multi-week homebuyer education course, complete 350 to 400 hours of “sweat equity” by working on their homes and the homes of others and volunteering at the Habitat ReStore as well as contribute a $1,000 down payment and save $1,000 in an emergency fund.
 
After the new homeowners purchase their homes, they make monthly payments to Habitat that go into a revolving Fund for Humanity used to support Habitat’s ongoing mission.
 
To date, Memphis Habitat has helped nearly 500 first-time homebuyers secure affordable mortgages and completed rehabilitation and home modification projects in partnership with more than 330 local homeowners.
 
“The next projects over the next three years will include a rugby field and an independent living facility for senior citizens,” said Spencer.

Nashville-based Hattie B's Hot Chicken opening a Midtown location

A Nashville-based chain is expanding into Memphis. Family-owned Hattie B's Hot Chicken will open in the summer at 596 Cooper Street.
 
Hattie B's is owned and operated by father-and-son team, Nick Bishop, Sr. and Nick Bishop, Jr., who currently have two locations in Nashville and one in Birmingham, Ala.
 
Much like the diverse Memphis barbeque scene, Nashville is known as the home of hot chicken with a history stretching back to the 1930s.
 
The Bishops’ hot chicken is prepared with five increasing levels of heat, including “mild,” “hot,” “damn hot” and “shut the cluck up!!!,” which is made with cayenne, habanero and ghost peppers.

“All these things that are incorporated will really put you down,” jokes Nick Jr.

“But there are people who can handle that or who lost a bet. It’s fun to see people challenge themselves and move up in the heat ranks.”
 
Rounding out the menu are homemade Southern sides and desserts like black-eyed pea salad, collard greens, pimento mac & cheese and banana pudding.
 
The Bishops purchased the former Curb Market building and plan to renovate it over the next several months. Nick Sr. estimates the total upcoming renovation costs at about $350,000 for the 2,700-square-foot building.
 
The Curb Market, a gourmet grocery store that opened in March 2016, has shuttered the Cooper location in anticipation of its spring move to Crosstown Concourse.
 
“In terms on interior, we’ll have to move a few walls around and expand our kitchen a little bit,” Nick Jr. said. “On the front side, there will be an outdoor patio game area.”
 
The game area will possibly consist of a small putting green and other games for kids.
 
“We just want it to be a fun and relaxed environment, a place where families can come and parents can take a load off,” said Nick Jr. “We’ll have great local craft beer and some banana pudding for afterwards to cool your mouth down.”
 
He said the property is virtually turn-key with cosmetic work making up the bulk of the expense.
 
“It’s got a great street presence, and I like that it’s in between Overton Square and the Cooper-Young area,” said Nick Jr. “There’s a ton of parking and some really great outdoor space for dining.”
 
Hattie B’s will hire two to three managers from the Memphis area, along with up to 30 additional employees.

Midtown recovery home for veterans opens after renovations


Alpha Omega Veterans Services Inc. unveiled its newly renovated facilities in Midtown at 1266 Vinton Avenue at a grand opening event on Feb. 17.
 
The Tennessee Housing Development Agency provided more than $195,000 in grant funding to assist with the renovations on the home for military veterans who have struggled with homelessness, mental illness, or substance abuse.
 
“This is going to be a bridge facility to permanent housing, so there will be transitional support services that we will be rendering until we can get them back on their feet and able to reintegrate into society,” said Alpha Omega executive director Cordell Walker.
 
Representatives from THDA, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and State Senator Lee Harris were on hand to celebrate the completion of the two-year renovation project.
 
Up to 16 veterans at a time live at the two-story home which also offers counseling and other services. While veterans make up 9 percent of the overall population, they make up 25 percent of the homeless population, so recovery homes like Alpha Omega are critical.
 
Havie McMullen, Alpha Omega director of facilities oversaw the renovation and did much of the work himself.
 
“Before the rehab, we used to use this facility as a PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) site,” said McMullen, a disabled veteran who served in the Navy. “Guys came here from four states: Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee, and we would transport to the (Memphis Veteran Affairs) hospital for treatment.”
 
The house was built in the 1940s. The renovations included fixing a badly sagging floor in the kitchen and putting new tile down, installing new appliances, fire suppression system, bathroom sinks, showers and toilets and adding a laundry facility.
 
Home Depot is donating to the project by installing a gazebo.
 
“They’re replacing the privacy fence and building a gazebo outside,” said McMullen, who previously rehabbed a hospice on Central Avenue for Alpha Omega at a cost of $480,000.
 
Many of the Alpha Omega 38-person staff are veterans who have gone through the organization’s recovery program.
 
Ola Mae Ransom created Alpha Omega Veteran’s Services, originally called Alpha Omega Faith Homes, in a single duplex in 1987 after her two sons, who both served in Vietnam, were diagnosed with PTSD. It was the first non-profit agency specializing in services for homeless veterans in the nation.
 
The organization has served more than 10,000 veterans since then. The organization serves 122 clients daily across six different facilities, and its budget has increased from $80,000 to $4.5 million.

Three new retail openings in Germantown-Collierville

Block Advisors, a division of H&R Block, opened its first office in the Memphis area at 7730 Wolf River Blvd in Germantown earlier this year joining several growing businesses celebrating recent openings in the Germantown-Collierville area.
 
Block Advisors offer personal tax preparation and small business services including bookkeeping and payroll.
 
“The main difference between us and a regular retail office is that our tax professionals have an average of 18 years of experience, and they have specialized training in business services and corporations,” said Block Advisors office manager Joe Justin. “And we are open year-round.”
 
The office employs 15 people heading into its busiest time of the year, and Justin expects that number to hold steady through the rest of this year.
 
“Previously H&R Block had an upscale set of offices called premier offices where we would do corporations, businesses, and more difficult returns,” said Justin. “So we combined those two offices,which were in Memphis and in Bartlett. We still also do individual tax returns, and we’re trying to focus more on businesses and corporations,” he added.
 
The Block Advisors name debuted two years ago and plans are to expand its presence in the Memphis area in the future.
 
The Germantown Area Chamber of Commerce also recently held ribbon cuttings for The Skin Clinics at 1300 Wolf Park and Marco’s Pizza Collierville at 930 West Poplar in Collierville.
 
The Skin Clinics has multiple franchise locations around the Memphis area. They help treat, cleanse, rehydrate and rejuvenate skin to minimize imperfections such as scars, blemishes, dry skin and wrinkles.
 
Services include laser hair removal, massage therapy, facials, waxing and custom spray tanning.
 
Marco’s Pizza continues to open new area locations with its growth into Collierville. The restaurant makes pizza the authentic Italian way with dough made fresh in store every day, a special three-cheese blend, and a sauce recipe that hasn't changed since its founding in 1978. 

Repurposing of Old Dominick Distillery poses challenges

 While construction is slated to wrap up in next few weeks on the renovation of D. Canale & Co.’s Old Dominick Distillery, the whiskey is ahead of schedule. The distillery announced last week that it has already started aging its first barrels of whiskey at the facility. Getting to this point with the more than $10 million restoration project was not without its unanticipated challenges.
 
The biggest hurdle of repurposing of the early 1900s-era Memphis Machine Works and Supply building on Front Street, which years ago had been used for making industrial-grade woodworking tools, involved putting in massive grain storage silos in the back of the building.
 
“When we dug up the old concrete there, the old railroad track that ran down Wagner was still in place,” said Hans Bauer, project manager for Archer Custom Builders, the general contractor. “So we had to pull out all the old railroad ties. Once we did that we had geotechnical engineers come in, and they told us the soil was too wet to support a 100,000-pound grain silo.”
 
The solution was to drill 32 helical piers measuring roughly 30 to 40 feet each down beneath each leg of each silo to support the weight.
 
The distillery is actually three buildings, all built at different times, that are connected into one structure. The  55,000-square-foot interior has all new electrical consisting of miles of conduit. The far north building holds the fermentation tanks as well as a future restaurant.
 
“We demoed out a lot of old concrete and replaced with it with new,” said Bauer. “And we had to cut holes for the fermentation tanks to come through the floor.”
 
For the enthusiasts lounge/VIP tasting area on the second floor of the southernmost building, a new slab was poured over the existing slab to raise the floor, and a glass wall leads out onto a newly created roof terrace that overlooks the city.
 
All of the glass of the old warehouse windows, which are the original to the building, had to be replaced, and now complements a good amount of new glass and millwork throughout the facility.
 
The outside was given some street appeal with fresh paint for the entire building, new storefront windows and front door as well as brick work. A Corten rusting grid wall system was installed inside the entrance to enhance the overall industrial vibe.

D. Canale & Co.’s Old Dominick Distillery will feature the vodka and whiskey distillery, a mill works for whole grains, a bottling operation and warehouse space for barreling whiskies. The facility will also feature two tasting rooms, host tours, 10,000 square feet of event space and 5,000 square feet of restaurant space.
 
LRK created the project’s design; HNA Engineering handled mechanical, electrical and plumbing needs; CSA were the structural engineers, and Geotech Inc. was brought in for geotechnical advice on the grain silos. Riverfront Development Corp. is the developer.
 
A grand opening to the public is likely in the fall.

Mayor Stricklandís first State of the City address touts new development

Development happening throughout the area figured heavily in Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland’s first State of the City address last week at the weekly meeting of the Frayser Exchange Club.
 
Strickland touted many of the city’s recent development accomplishments along with steps that are underway to strengthen public safety.
 
“Today in Memphis, I am proud to report: There is some $7 billion in recently completed, under construction, or on-the-drawing board development, much of which is going toward re-imagining historic assets,” said Strickland, who also cited the fact that the former Sears, Roebuck & Co. regional distribution building is occupied for the first time in a quarter century.
 
He recognized ServiceMaster’s decision to keep its 1,200 jobs in Memphis and move into the former Peabody Place mall Downtown this spring as well as St. Jude Children’s Hospital bringing more than 1,800 jobs and billions in development to the city.
 
He said that in the past year minority and women-owned businesses have made up a larger portion of city contract spending and are up 30 percent compared to the previous year.
 
Strickland also announced the national My Brother’s Keeper Alliance will hold a “Pathways to Success: Boys and Young Men of Color Opportunity Summit” job fair in Memphis on April 20.
 
The national initiative from President Obama is geared to individuals between the ages of 16 and 29 and similar events have been very successful in places like Detroit and Oakland.
 
Other major achievements of the past year include Memphis’ new down payment assistance program through the Division of Housing & Community Development, which has helped 65 families purchase homes in targeted areas, and the Work Local program, a partnership with the Hospitality HUB to offer work to homeless individuals which has helped 70 people since launching in November.
 
Creating a new Violent Crimes Bureau at the Memphis Police Department and doubling city support for the street-level gang intervention program 901 BLOC Squad are on the immediate public safety agenda along with the plan for more graduates to come out of the police academy.
 
“No question about it, the most important role for city government is providing for public safety,” Strickland said. “The steps that we’re describing today will further strengthen the city’s commitment.”
 
Public libraries will be open longer hours this summer, and community centers will hold spring break camps next month, he added.

Whitehaven family-run pharmacy & herbal medicine shop freshens up


With the plan of continuing to help serve the community’s uninsured with their medicinal needs, family-owned and operated Champion’s Pharmacy and Herb Store at 2369 Elvis Presley Boulevard is undergoing a much-needed upgrade of its facilities.
 
Dr. Charles A. Champion opened the pharmacy and store in South Memphis in 1981 and moved it to its current location in 1991. The pharmacy building was built in 1962 and was Harlow’s Donuts until it was sold to Dr. Champion in 1991.
 
Champion was the first African-American pharmacist at John Gaston Hospital which is now known as Regional One Health. He’s now 86 years old and still comes in to the pharmacy most afternoons to help his daughters, pharmacists Dr. Carol Champion and Dr. Charita Champion-Brookins, who now handle the day-to-day operations.
 
“Most of our customers who come in are uninsured and are looking for alternative meds,” said Dr. Carol Champion. “We do not fill prescriptions. We do a lot of herbal medicines.”
 
Time-tested herbal remedies might be sought to help treat a stomach ailment or a skin rash.
 
“We compound our own. We make soaps, ointments, creams, cough syrups, and things for gout and eczema,” said Champion. “We used to be a full-fledged pharmacy, and we decided years ago that we needed to find an alternative way to survive.”
 
About the 30 percent of the pharmacy’s business comes from online sales, and it also specializes in hard-to-find items like Father John’s cough syrup, Swamp Root (for kidney ailments) and Watkin’s liniments for arthritis.
 
Many of the other businesses in the neighborhood have closed or relocated elsewhere.
 
The family is upgrading the pharmacy thanks to a recently awarded $20,000 Inner City Economic Development loan from the Economic Development Growth Engine for Memphis & Shelby County.
 
“A lot of the businesses are in need of an upgrade in the area, so when I was told about the EDGE program I felt our pharmacy would be a great start to try to make the neighborhood look better,” said Champion.

She used her own money to go ahead and start work on the 2,635-square-foot pharmacy’s interior, including new paint, shelving and compartments. The ICED funds will be used to help with needed roof work, parking lot repairs, exterior paint and an update to the façade and signage. Perkins & Son is handling much of the work. Total project costs are estimated at $33,600.

South Memphis recycling facility expands

Entrepreneur Fred Spikner plans to create five to seven jobs over the next couple of years.
 
His $30,000 redevelopment effort at Park Place Recycling & Logistsics will have a significant impact on the surrounding South Memphis neighborhood.
 
is growing operations at his second business, Park Place Recycling & Logistics at 815 East Georgia Avenue in South Memphis, with $30,000 in renovations underway and plans to hire five to seven people over the next couple of years.
 
The facility at 815 East Georgia Avenue was recently approved for a $20,000 Inner City Economic Development loan from finance committee of the Economic Development Growth Engine for Memphis & Shelby County.
 
Park Place recycles and processes paper and cardboard products from commercial clients within a seven-mile radius of its facility, and it sets up export shipping to foreign buyers.
 
Spikner has helped to revitalize the abandoned building and nearby area, hiring several employees over the years from the neighborhood.
 
It turns out he got into the recycling business through a strange twist of fate. His first business, Spikner Embroidery and Screen Printing, has been in operation in South Memphis for 20 years, and he joined the Memphis Rotary Club through running that business.
 
“The Memphis Rotary led me to go on a clean water trip to Honduras, and while I was there I saw that recycling could be a big asset for them. I really looked forward to going back there and trying some recycling efforts,” Spikner said.
 
When he returned to Memphis, his real estate agent showed him a building that was for sale, and the previous owner had left behind a recycling bailer. He bought the machine and the warehouse and has slowly grown a recycling business from there over the past four years.
 
Today Park Place has a staff of ten, and he expects to grow that number to 17 in the next couple of years.
 
The ICED funds will help with the costs for new lighting and docks doors for the 115,000-square-foot facility, which is surrounded on three sides by residential developments and on one side by commercial activity.
 
Spikner applied for assistance to help improve the appearance to the exterior of the building and screen the operations from neighborhood residences. 
 
“We’re actually getting a fence put up, as well as some security to go with it. We’re just trying to spruce up the area with the loan,” he said. “It’s a real help with what we’re doing. It seems like it came at the right time. It’s been a blessing.”

$60M down payment fund invests in Memphis' "hardest hit" neighborhoods

Area first-time home buyers got a big lift with the announcement on Feb. 6 of a $60 million down payment assistance program expected to stoke home sales and stabilize home values in 21 targeted zip codes in West Tennessee including many in the Memphis area.
 
Tennessee Housing Development Agency executive director Ralph M. Perrey announced the Hardest Hit Fund – Down Payment Assistance (HHF-DPA) program at a press conference in Frayser on Monday.
 
“This is something we’ve been working on for a long time because we have recognized that there are still neighborhoods in Memphis that have not recovered as fully from the Great Downturn, and we wanted to be a part of that solution and put some dollars together,” said Perrey.
 
“The idea here that neighborhood investment requires more than investment; it requires the presence of an invested owner.”
 
The event was held at a once-blighted model home at 3309 Riney Street. Frayser Development Corp. restored the house after it sat vacant for more than nine years and was eventually condemned. The 1,200-square-foot home is now on the market for $64,500.
 
Home buyers who purchased a home in certain targeted ZIP codes of the city using THDA’s Great Choice Home Loan program can apply for $15,000 in HHF-DPA assistance toward the down payment and closing costs in the form of a forgivable second mortgage loan.
 
There are no monthly payments on the second mortgage loan during its ten-year term, and it does not accrue any interest. THDA will forgive 20 percent of the second mortgage loan each year starting in year six. Buyers must live in the home and not refinance, sell or move out during the ten years to reap the full benefit.
 
Another housing assistance program was developed last year by the City of Memphis through the Division of Housing and Community Development, and it allows individuals and families who earn less than 200 percent of the area median income to access up to $10,000 towards the purchase of a new home in 14 ZIP codes in Memphis.
 
Approximately $500,000 was allocated to support the effort in July of 2016, and the city has already helped more than 65 families purchase homes in the inner city of Memphis.
 
“We’ve utilized nearly all of the funds for this program in only a few short months,” said City of Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland. “It shows there is a big demand to purchase homes in our community and more resources are needed.
 
The more stable our neighborhoods become, the more our tax base grows, the more families move into stabilized neighborhoods, educational outcomes increase, and ideally we have less crime and blight due to new homeowners in the community with a vested interest.”
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