Tennessee and Ireland, a ‘lucky match.’

In observance of St. Patrick’s Day the good folks at the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development have sent along some information on the business ties between Tennessee and Ireland.

ECD says 14 Irish companies are operating at 29 locations across the state, employing 4,027 people and investing a combined $69.2 million. Exports to Ireland from Tennessee totaled more than $120 million in 2013, an increase of over 30 percent in the last five years. Pharmaceutical and medicine and medical equipment and supplies account for 98.6 percent of all Tennessee imports from Ireland. Three of the five largest Irish companies by employment in Tennessee are located in Memphis: Trane Company, APAC Tennessee Inc. and Smurfit Companies.

And here’s a 2012 story on Irish immigrants in Memphis.

More on the return of Frontier Airlines

Frontier Airlines made its return to Memphis Friday. Check our homepage for a full rundown of the events. You also can check out some videos from the event on my Twitter page or Vine feed.

Each of Frontier’s 56 planes has one of the airline’s animal mascots painted on the tail. The flight that landed in Memphis Friday featured “Hector” the otter, whose hobby is “taking siestas. Lots of them.” You can learn more about Frontier’s animal mascots here.  Make sure that you bookmark Frontier’s website and follow the airline on Twitter.

Memphis International Airport officials were giddy over Frontier’s return, and for good reason. Memphis International is in a transition period, moving away from a hub airport dominated by Delta Airlines to one focused on origin and destination traffic and increased competition. Since Delta pulled the plug on the hub the number of flights at Memphis International have dropped dramatically.

The changes at Memphis International prompted a $114 million concourse modernization plan, which was highlighted when the Frontier jet from Denver arrived here in Memphis.

The Frontier flight arrived at Gate C7, one of the roughly 20 – 25 gates slated to be razed under the plan. The Frontier flight landed a little earlier than its scheduled 1:30 p.m. arrival time but had to wait to pull up to the gate because of a Delta plane that was departing. There was only one lane for both planes, a situation Memphis and Shelby County Airport Authority president and CEO Scott Brockman said would be eliminated by the modernization plan.

“When people ask why we’re pursuing this plan, you just saw why,” said Brockman.

Judge approves transfer of Ashlar Hall

Environmental Court Judge Larry Potter, reversing a previous decision, upheld a 2013 transfer of Ashlar Hall from Robert “Prince Mongo” Hodges to an acquaintance who wants to turn the stately but decaying property into a home for military veterans.

However, Potter said that while he approved the transfer of the property other groups interested in rehabilitating and operating the building could still pursue their plans and that he will pick the plan that has the best chance for success.

“My concern is for a quick turnaround of this structure,” said Potter during a Friday, Feb. 28 hearing. “If there were to be a better plan that is better financed or a much faster turnaround of the rehabilitation of the property the plans of whatever is presented will be reviewed.”

Last month, a furious Potter nullified the transfer of Ashlar Hall to Kenny Medlin after Medlin had failed to produce a plan for repairing and operating the building, but Medlin submitted his plan to Potter Friday.

“Mr. Medlin has presented me a financing plan whereby he hopes to renovate Ashlar Hall and where he intends to get the resources,” said Potter.

Hodges entered into an agreement with Potter’s court and the city last year to find a new owner that could make the repairs necessary to bring the 11,114-square-foot building into compliance. But Hodges deeded the property over to Medlin without Potter’s consent.

Two other groups are still actively pursuing Ashlar Hall.

Joe Thordarson, founder of the Memphis Comic and Fantasy Convention, plans to turn the building into a center for the arts.

“The question of ownership was settled today but the question of use of the building was not and I’m going to double-down on my pursuit of creating the AshlarHallCenter for the Arts,” said Thordarson.

Ty Cobb, founder of the nonprofit Have a Standard Foundation, said he will still pursue plans to turn the building into a center for experiential learning. Cobb’s foundation operates the CoreFire Commando learning program inside the AutoZoneChallengeCenter at the KrocCenter, which uses challenging games to foster an environment of innovation and teamwork.

Ashlar Hall, which was built in 1897 and served as the home of real estate developer Robert Brinkley Snowden, has turned into a dilapidated eyesore.

Hodges’ brother, Bernard Hodges, acquired the property for $300,000 in 1993 before transferring it via warranty deed to 1397 Central Ave LP in 1994. Robert Hodges began operating The Castle nightclub at the property after his brother acquired it, before closing the club’s doors around a decade later. The building has been vacant and deteriorating ever since, racking up a host of city code violations.

Potter said his goal is to find a viable owner that can save the building from the wrecking ball.

Memphis International Airport Joins Twitterverse

Memphis International Airport has taken flight on Twitter.

The airport joined the popular social networking site on Friday, Jan. 14 with @flymemphis.

The airport, which is under new leadership, has been criticized for having a poor public communications strategy but has taken steps to change that reputation. The airport has hired a public information officer and entered into a cooperative marketing agreement with the airlines to market service to and from Memphis.

State Senator asks state to assist local efforts to save Nineteenth Century Club

State Sen. Jim Kyle has asked state historians to help with local efforts to save the historic Nineteenth Century Club property on Union Avenue.
Kyle, the Democratic leader of the Senate from Memphis, said he met with representatives from the Tennessee Historical Commission after he received calls from constituents concerned with the fate of the property.
“I trust the judgment of the people who devote their lives to studying the history of Memphis and Tennessee,” Kyle said in a statement issued Tuesday, Aug. 6. “What they are saying is that this is one of the most historically significant residential buildings in the state, and I want to be sure the Tennessee Historical Commission stays abreast of developments in Memphis.”
The historical commission has no power to stop the property’s owner, Union Group LLC, from razing the Nineteenth Century Club building and replacing it with a commercial development, but it awards federal preservation grants and an investment tax credit program that focuses on building rehabilitation.
Last Thursday, two current and two former members of the Nineteenth Century Club won a temporary restraining order prohibiting the Union group from doing any work on the property.
The current and former members of the club had filed a Shelby County Chancery Court suit alleging the sale of the property did not follow the organization’s bylaws and that it violated the Tennessee Nonprofit Corporation Act.
Attorneys representing the plaintiffs say the club’s bylaws required all club members – not just the organization’s leadership – to vote on the sale and the state act requires nonprofits disposing of major assets to get approval from the state Attorney General.
The Union Group acquired a demolition permit from the Office of Construction Code Enforcement Tuesday, July 30, and felled a large tree on the back side of the property.
The regal but decaying property on Union was built in 1907 by Rowland Jones, a Memphis lumber king.
In 1926, the 15,813-square-foot house was acquired by the Nineteenth Century Club, a philanthropic women’s organization.
The Union Group acquired the property for $550,000 in January after winning a competitive bidding process, beating out a group that offered $350,000 and wanted to turn the property into a women’s business center. The Nineteenth Century Club plans on donating the sale proceeds to the Children’s Museum of Memphis.

Dansette

google