Update on Morgan Keegan-Raymond James merger

Raymond James disclosed Wednesday that its planned integration with Morgan Keegan remains on schedule to close April 2.

Also, the company that will be Morgan Keegan’s new parent said 98 percent of Morgan Keegan financial advisors who were presented with retention incentive offers have said they’ll accept them and will join Raymond James upon closing of the merger.

Las Delicias Joins Neil’s at Yorkshire Center

A popular Mexican restaurant has inked its third Memphis-area lease.

Las Delicias Mexican Bar and Grill has signed a 6,400-square-foot lease in Yorkshire Center, 5689 Quince Road. The space formerly housed Thyme Bistro – which closed in June after about a year in business – and Jarrett’s for 15 years prior.

Las Delicias is owned by Antonio Martinez and has two other Memphis locations, one in East Memphis at 4002 Park Ave. and one in Hickory Ridge at 3727 S. Mendenhall Road. The eatery is expected to be open in about 90 days in its third Yorkshire location.

Yorkshire Center is owned by Loeb Properties Inc. Loeb vice president brokerage Aaron Petree represented the landlord in the deal. The tenant was unrepresented.

Loeb acquired the 52,365-square-foot center in 1996 and made renovations in 2007. Yorkshire Center is 83 occupied and includes tenants MemFish, Johnson Chiropractic, Posh Styling Salon, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Straight from the Heart Hair & Nail, American Reprographics Co., First American Bank, SecureWatch, Raindrop Turkish Foundation, Yorkshire Liquors and Neil’s Bar. Loeb said the only vacancy is the former xpedx space.

Neil’s signed a 6,000-square-foot lease in Yorkshire Center in January, taking over the space that was once occupied by Whole Hog Café. Neil’s was previously located for nearly 20 years in Midtown at 1835 Madison Ave., before an August fire destroyed the property.

But Loeb was actually trying to attract a Mexican restaurant before the company signed Neil’s, Petree said

“We thought the Thyme Bistro space set up perfectly as a Mexican restaurant – there is a wonderful outdoor patio attached, and plenty of space inside with a great bar, so we marketed it as such,” Petree said. “Las Delicias contacted us once they received our Mexican restaurant marketing flyer. The neighborhood has nothing like it, so we feel it will fill a void there. We knew this would be a great amenity to the center and for the neighborhood, and could pull from the nearby daytime office population near Poplar/240.”

Unlike Loeb’s other centers around town, Yorkshire is more of a neighborhood shopping center rather than being located on a main artery, Petree said.

“Our main goal for Yorkshire has been to attract more retail users to drive traffic to the center and to meet the needs of the surrounding neighborhood,” Petree said. “After completing a renovation in 2007, our goal now is to lease the one remaining space in the center.”

Award-winning puppeteer documentary on WKNO

WKNO will premiere the award-winning documentary “Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey” on Monday, April 9 at 8:00 p.m. on WKNO/Channel 10.

It will repeat on Tuesday, April 10 at 8:00 p.m. on WKNO2, available over the air on Channel 10.2 and on Comcast Cable Channel 910.

The documentary tells the story of Elmo’s creator, Kevin Clash, who grew up in Baltimore in the 1970s and dreamed of being a puppeteer like his idol Jim Henson.

Narrated by Whoopi Goldberg and directed by Constance Marks, the movie includes archival footage and interviews with Frank Oz, Rosie O’Donnell and others, in addition to offering a unique look at Clash’s life on Sesame Street and at the Jim Henson Workshop.

On a related note, British drama like Downton Abbey is all the rage now. I remember as a kid a bit Elmo did on Sesame Street, where he sort of did a spin on the old British drama “Upstairs, Downstairs.”

“This is me running upstairs… this is me running downstairs!”

More on Poplar Plaza

Poplar Plaza may be one of three shopping centers Finard Properties LLC owns in Memphis, but its history could possibly be the richest.

The Burlington, Mass.-based real estate company is in the midst of a multi-million transformation of the center, including the relocation of nine tenants to make way for a new 86,500-square-foot Kroger.

Not only is the project noteworthy because tenants Kroger and Gould’s Day Spa are getting new digs within the center, but also because both were among the center’s original occupants, which far precedes Finard’s ownership. It’s also a pretty telling picture of the transformation made by retail real estate over the past 60 years.

“We have (a copy of) the original Kroger lease, which I believe is dated 1952,” Smith said. “It’s three pages long. That’s so entertaining because nowadays, a lease with a large, big-box tenant is often 80 and 90 pages, especially with the exhibits.”

Today, Poplar Plaza sits on 28 acres and is home to more than 50 local and national tenants, including anchors Kroger, Old Navy, Petco and Mattress Firm. But that’s in stark contrast to the first phase of construction of the outdoor strip mall in 1948, when the intersection at Poplar and Highland was considered to be the rural outskirts of the city.

“A rural, large-layout shopping center – they just didn’t exist except in maybe Texas and California and a couple of other coastal states like that,” said Rick Smith, director of leasing for Finard’s Memphis office. “It was really very much one of its kind at that point.”

Curtain Call for MSO president and CEO

Memphis Symphony Orchestra president and CEO Ryan Fleur – who’s had the position since 2003 – has been named executive vice president of orchestra advancement with The Philadelphia Orchestra.

The Philly orchestra, founded in 1900, is considered one of the “big five” symphonies in the nation. Fleur has responsibility for the orchestra, human resources, electronic media accounts, shared services and the strategic planning process.

An interim president and CEO will be named to the MSO in the next three weeks, and a national search will begin this spring.

During Fleur’s tenure in Memphis, the MSO hired current MSO music director Mei-Ann Chen. The MSO also grew ticket sales and saw the advent of the popular Opus One concert series.