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.

Elizabeth Lemmonds “Forges” a new venture

After leaving the Start Co. organization last year, Elizabeth Lemmonds’ next venture called Forge is preparing to launch.

The venture has secured a space on Broad Ave. across from the water tower, according to Forge’s Facebook page, which also describes the venture’s concept as a “uniquely Memphis mashup of arts space and fabrication shop. Part incubator, part gallery, part playground.”

Lemmonds describes it as a “maker space” with monthly tiered memberships for access to a wood shop, metal shop, desktop manufacturing (with things like laser cutters and 3D printers) and a gallery space as well as a variety of community-access opportunities.

The idea is for a diverse group of people to work there and share space there – “interdisciplinary innovation,” in Lemmonds’ words.

She told me last year Forge  would host events to showcase its participants’ work, including exhibitions and panels with Forge artists and engineers. It also would host pop-up “Forge Fairs” where the opportunity to sell creative work would be available.

Kroger cuts the ribbon Wednesday at three remodeled area stores

Kroger will hold ribbon-cutting ceremonies Wednesday (Feb. 26) at three Memphis-area stores that have been remodeled and expanded.

They’re at 9025 U.S. 64; 3685 Houston Levee; and 3926 Goodman Road.

The stores all got an increase in floor size and added features like a sushi station, Wi-Fi, an in-store chef and a bistro dining area. The produce and bakery sections also have been expanded, as well as the organic and natural food offerings.

Paragon National Bank wants to switch to a state charter

Paragon National Bank has taken the initial steps toward switching from being a nationally chartered bank to one with a state charter.

A change to a state charter would have no effect on Paragon customers or day-to-day operations, according to the bank. Paragon CEO Robert Shaw suggested it’s more about preferring a different regulator.

In a statement released about the move, Shaw explained that a state charter gives Paragon two advantages – a regulator based in Tennessee “who fully understands our market” and “a level playing field with our peer institutions, virtually all of whom are state chartered.”

Paragon also has announced its intent to form a holding company to own the bank. The official name of the holding company will be Paragon Financial Solutions, and will be regulated by the Federal Reserve. The holding company’s only investment would be Paragon National Bank and it would have the same board members as that of Paragon National Bank.

BET’s “Sunday Best” holding auditions in Memphis March 8

BET’s “Sunday Best” is currently casting for its 7th season and is heading to Memphis March 8 in search of the country’s next Gospel superstar.

It’s the show’s first time holding auditions in Memphis. They’ll happen at Mississippi Blvd Christian Church, 70 N. Bellevue, and doors for auditions open at 6 a.m.

For more information, including the official audition song list, click the link:

http://www.bet.com/shows/sunday-best/news/sunday-best-7-auditions.html

Dansette

google