Will Third Try Be the Convention Center Charm?

mcc-rendering-westNovember 10, 2018 (updated/corrected November 11, 2018] – The City of Memphis is asking for bids for the renovation of its convention center. It is the third time this year.

As reported here earlier, the process has had a few hiccups along the way. The bids received in round one and two have simply exceeded the City’s budget for the renovation.

After the first set of bids from two contractors were received, which would have put the project well beyond the budget, the architects went to work to provide “value engineering,” meaning substituting less costly materials and some relatively minor design changes.

The second bid solicitation was divided into six categories, a base bid and five options for additional construction. In the second round of bids three contractors participated. Bid opening was November 1. The lowest bid for the base and all the options came in at $173,382,000. The next lowest bid was more than $10-million higher.

There were widely disseminated media reports that the renovation project, based on these bids, would come in under the budget of $175-million. Those reports were apparently based on a lack of understanding of the project. There are about $25-million in “soft costs” that the project will require. Soft costs are things like architect, lawyer, and consultant fees, of which there are obviously considerable. Add those soft costs to the lowest construction bid for the base all options and the total expected cost of the renovation project would be $198,382,000, once again, nearly 25-million over budget.

Soliciting rebids, even multiple rebids, for major projects is not uncommon, according to architects and construction consultants.

The reason the second round of bids had those five options was in case the total exceeded the budget. The Memphis Convention Center Board of Commissioners and the City could then pick and choose the options, with hopes of finding an acceptable combination that would come in within budget.

The choices of options, however, were narrower than seen at first glance because there is considerable agreement that three of the options are critical to the future of the convention center. Figuring only those three critical options in the lowest bidder’s proposal and including the soft costs brings the anticipated cost down to $188,674,000. That is still $13.6-million over budget. Using only those three critical options in the other bidders’ proposals brings the project, based on their bids, more than $10-million over the lowest bidder’s.

On this third solicitation for bids, released yesterday, two of the less important construction options have been dropped: a renovation of meeting rooms on the third floor where convention center staff offices and some smaller conference rooms are now located, and a “media mesh,” a large electronic sign, on the side of the building.

On top of all this, one of the November 1 bidding companies has filed an appeal with the city, claiming its bid was the only one that met the documentation requirements. That bidder, by the way, had the highest proposed cost of construction.

Architectural and construction consultants say that the rebidding process, if it goes successfully with this third round of bid solicitation, will not likely affect the August, 2020, substantial completion date of the project.

The new bids are due into the city November 20, 2018.

 

[In an earlier version of this story the date the bid solicitation was released was also given as the date the bids were due in to the city. The actual date the bids are due is November 20, 2018]

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Memphis Convention Center Call for Rebids Released

mccc-brochure-artSeptember 18, 2018 – The rebid solicitation for the renovation of the Memphis Cook Convention Center was released today by the City of Memphis. Bids are due November 1. Assuming a satisfactory bid is accepted, construction is expected to begin by December, 2018, and completed by the autumn, 2020.
Bid documents for the project are available through mccrenovaton.com, including a brochure type of description, suitable for general interest reading, of the planned renovation entitled “Memphis Convention Center Expansion and Renovation Update.”

Convention Center Renovation Plans After “Value Engineering”

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The proposed renovated west side of the Memphis Cook Convention Center with meeting rooms which are now listed as an option after a “value engineering” effort to reduce costs.

August 2, 2018 – Some additional information about the planned Convention Center renovation has come to light. As reported in our July story, after the lowest bid for the renovation came in $24 million more than the budgeted amount an effort was launched to cut down on the expenses without significantly reducing the quality or scope of the project. Those involved called the revisions “value engineering.” In our previous report, the estimated savings was still being calculated by a consulting firm. That figure came in at $35 million. The Memphis Convention Center Board of Commissioners was told that now the estimate base cost was $113.6 million with four optional packages. The Commissioners made it clear they wanted three of those four alternatives included, but that would raise the expected cost to about $185.7 million. The elements left out of the “base bid” but which commissioners clearly wish to include are meeting rooms in the west section of the convention center (on the west side of Front Street), a new loading dock for big trucks, and meeting rooms in the South Hall.

Another feature which was originally discarded in the value engineering effort was the pedestrian bridge between the Sheraton Hotel and the convention center. It turns out, however, that bridge belongs to the Sheraton and the owners of that facility want the bridge to stay, so it is now back in the plans and is included in the base bid.

The one optional package that appears to be still left out is the renovation of the third floor to provide more meeting rooms.

According to a person knowledgeable about the planning, the city will be looking to see if an additional $10-15 million can be found so that the renovation plan will not be “compromised.” Another person involved in the talks simply says, “we’ve got to figure out something” to get the additional funds. The $175 million budget was planned using hotel/motel taxes and money from the Downtown Tourism Development Zone. It was unclear if the additional money could be developed out of those sources or if other public funds could be used.

Path to a renovated Memphis Convention Center: a bumpy beginning to a smooth landing?

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Artist’s rendering of the Main Street side of a renovated Memphis Cook Convention Center.

The Memphis Cook Convention Center is among the major magnets to bring people to Memphis. Like can happen to those traveling to the convention center,  its renovation has had a few bumps along the way as it begins the journey toward its destination.

Public projects in Memphis have a checkered past in terms of being completed on time and on budget. For example, the last expansion and renovation of the Memphis Cook Convention Center was completed in 2003, was millions over budget, a year and a half late, and resulted in several lawsuits. More recently, the Riverfront Development Corporation’s Beale Street Landing came in $16 million over the original price tag.

A proposal to largely update the look and some of the functionality of the Memphis Cook Convention Center started as a $55 million project which was to be completed in September, 2019, in time for the celebration that month of the founding of Memphis 200 years earlier. With an increase in the hotel/motel tax and using Tourism Development Zone revenue to finance it, an expanded vision for a major renovation developed with a price tag of $175 million. Architects, construction managers, and consultants were hired. Then it was learned that the proposed method of contracting for the work, a construction manager at risk, in which the manager would be responsible for any cost overruns, could not be used for the project under Tennessee law. That caused a bit of a delay in the planning as the Memphis Convention Center Board of Commissioners reworked the format for a more traditional construction contract.

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Artist’s rendering of an interior space in a renovated convention center.

Some of the key elements of the more extensive renovation included more breakout meeting rooms with higher ceilings to accommodate large screen displays, a lot more glass to provide natural lighting, the removal of the mezzanine level, new LCD lighting, an overall enhanced internal appearance, and redesigned “back of house” facilities and passageways for staff only use. A major aspect of the original $55 million concept remains, although altered somewhat, and that is covering the outside of the building with a metal skin to make it look more modern and similar to the attached Cannon Center for the Performing Arts.

Among those working to assist the convention center’s board in planning and estimating the cost were the principals of two of Memphis’ leading architectural firms in addition to the primary architects, LRK of Memphis in conjunction with the world wide convention center designer TVS of Atlanta. When the bids went out, the estimates, expressed with confidence, was that construction costs would be about $136 million and a total cost meeting the proposed budget of $175 million.

Then the bids came in. There were only two firms bidding and the lowest bid was $199 million.

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Artist’s rendering of west side of a renovated convention center.

The consultants’ primary explanation for the high bids was that there were several large projects either underway or out for bid at the same time the convention center renovation bid was solicited. That, they said, resulted in a very tight construction market and led to other companies not bidding on the project because they were either already at capacity or could be if they won contracts for other developments for which they had put in bids.

Scott Fleming, an architect consulting the convention center board says “every construction project I know of is struggling with budget. It’s a bidder’s market.”

Back to the drawing board, literally. The architects went to work to alter the plans to find cost savings. The city and convention center commissioners decided to rebid the project. They hope that the construction market will have loosened a bit and more construction firms will bid on the project, the competition possibly lowering price. It has been said that a construction project with only two bidders can increase the cost 25%. The new request for bids is expected to go out in mid September.

Last month representatives of the TVS architectural firm presented proposed cost saving changes to the renovation design. They were awaiting a cost estimate to show how much difference the changes are anticipated to make.

mcc-rendering-meeting

Renovated and additional meeting rooms are an important aspect to the convention center’s future. Load bearing columns will remain in some rooms but the design calls for seating in the center providing a clear view to the front with walking areas provided outside of the columns.

Among the major changes: painted drywall instead of brick in several interior locations within the convention center, elimination of the aerial walkway between the Sheraton Hotel and the convention center, substituting wood laminate instead of solid wood in numerous locations, using a perforated metal instead of wood for some decorative features, changing the lighting design, including eliminating cylindrical lights which could be lowered or raised to enhance an event in the main exhibit hall, reducing the outcropping of a meeting room which will extend from the front of the building, changing the finish on the exterior, and discarding a planned large video screen sign for the west side of the building. The cost of cellular phone signal boosters is being removed from the renovation budget but is expected to be included through separate funding. In all, the design firm found more than 200 “value engineering opportunities,” meaning places where changes could save money.

Tom Marshall, one of the consulting architects, says “we are greatly pleased with the level of quality maintained” in the revamped plans. After seeing an artist’s renderings of before and after the cost cutting plans, another participant in the meeting said, “I can’t tell the difference.”

Responses to the new request for bids are due November 1, and if a bid is satisfactory it is expected to be awarded by mid November. Construction would begin shortly thereafter.

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Improving the appearance where Front Street goes under part of the convention center as well as providing modern meeting rooms on the west site is part of the plan.

The estimated cost is still unknown and the actual bids for the renovated renovation plans are, of course, unknown. What is known is that the expected completion of the project, September, 2020, is now a year later than the original target date. Although portions of the convention center will remain open during construction, the timetable change also means some other events which the convention center might have hosted will have to be redirected to other local sites, turned away completely, or if already contracted, cancelled. Convention center commissioners were told that the overall cost of lost business, including possible penalties, could reach one million dollars. Kevin Kane, President and CEO of Memphis Tourism (the Convention and Visitors Bureau recently rebranded as Memphis Tourism), says “it will be worth the pain… They’ll be talking about us like they talk about Nashville.” He was speaking of Nashville’s convention center which opened five years ago to widespread acclaim and costing more than $600 million.

 

Local newspaper column lacks information — may reflect lack of staff

December 18, 2017 – In a Commercial Appeal column today, Ted Evanoff opined on several topics. For two of them, it would seem he, and perhaps the newspaper itself, was unaware of what has happened or is happening in Memphis.

Given the repeated reductions in reporters and copy editors it may be unlikely the newspaper staff collectively knows about Memphis activities. A single writer might never have known but when copy editors were local and long familiar with Memphis events, it is more likely a column which seemed to miss some points would be either edited to supply them or returned to the writer with information helpful for a rewrite.

In today’s article, Evanoff wrote, “I know there’s already a lot going on to bring college-level instruction into the high schools. But I doubt there’s enough, particularly on the vocational side.”

Of course, “enough” is always going to be subjective evaluation. What is enough for some may not be enough for others. The idea of “college level” courses being in high schools boarders on an oxymoron. While high school advanced classes with either dual enrollment (in a college and high school) or those which bestow college credit do exist in local public schools, it would seem that the vast majority of “college level” courses, vocational or otherwise, would be held at colleges. If they were held in large numbers in high schools, would they not then be high school level courses?

To the point of being fully informed and fully informing, the article could have been of greater benefit if it noted that Shelby County Schools is currently reworking its vocational program. Central office administrators are planning to present to the members of the Board of Education their recommendations in January. While not revealing all the details, the school district says it has examined the needs of Memphis employers and proposes to revamp the vocational programs to focus on the six areas they believe will be more beneficial to Shelby County employers and, therefore, for graduates of the programs as they hunt for jobs. Currently the school system offers vocational classes in about 17 different subjects. It is said some classes will continue in those areas, but greater emphasis, and more classes, will be put on those six areas identified as more likely to help more students fit into the local workforce.

A second subject in the same article asks, “Could Memphis at least synchronize the Poplar Corridor stoplights?”

It has. Or at least it has tried. Even the Commercial Appeal has reported on it. Reporter Tom Charlier in an August 10, 2016, article wrote:

Five years ago this month, the city began laying 120 miles of fiber-optic cable to connect traffic signals on such roads as Lamar, Winchester, Poplar, Airways, Summer, Germantown Parkway and Stage Road to a coordinated network. The synchronized signal system gives motorists — especially rush-hour commuters — a good chance of driving through several successive intersections without hitting a red light… Along Poplar, between East Parkway and Yates, travel times in both directions have been cut by an average of 2 minutes.

It may be reasonable to be unimpressed with only a two minute advantage and perhaps there is a good point to be made there. If the improvement is only two minutes when many stoplights hold traffic for a minute, it would seem that effective coordination of the lights might reduce travel time considerably more. Nevertheless, the Evanoff article does not acknowledge the synchronization projects that have taken place and, as noted, even reported on by his newspaper.

Finally, a couple of observations. “Odd thing is I drive 12,000 miles a year into just about every nook of this city and I rarely see anyone toss anything out of car windows,” writes Evanoff. He says he does see a lot of “awful lot of litter flying out of the back of garbage trucks speeding along the road.”

No doubt Evanoff’s view of garbage trucks spreading litter is accurate but for this writer it not an uncommon site to see individuals dump trash out of their car onto public streets or parking lots.

One might wonder if after multiple rounds of cuts in editorial staff at The Commercial Appeal if resources might be better spent to increase the number of reporters and local copy editors rather than maintaining columnists who express opinions which sometimes appear to be not fully informed. That is not to disparage Evanoff’s position, he is fulfilling his role. It is to question the roles being filled at The Commercial Appeal given its much diminished capacity.

 

Coliseum Reuse Alternatives: Are We in Middle School?

coliseumSeptember 6, 2016 – Are we back in middle school?

That’s the question that occurred to this observer today. But no, it was not middle school students in view, it was Memphis City Council members.

So what brought to mind middle school? Smirks, rolling of eyes, snide comments while someone else was making his point.

It was one of the most disrespectful displays by a public body seen by this writer in years.

One might say that the presentation by the chief executive officer of the DSG Group, Brian Saulsberry, in his attempt to get the council to consider his proposal for renovation of the Mid South Coliseum was not very persuasive. It began on a discouraging note for DSG, it could never get the full digital slide presentation to display properly on a big video screen. That may or may not have been DSG’s fault, it could have also been the limitations of the City Council’s computer system. Nevertheless, Saulsberry pressed on, referring to the same images that were in a handout given to council members which would have been seen on the large screen. Unfortunately for DSG and for those who might wish the coliseum remain a public amenity, the presentation did not get much better and was received by council members even worse.

Regardless of the Saulsberry proposal, the smirks between council members, the rolling of eyes, and the snide comments were juvenile.

One of the worse offenders was Allan Wade, the contract attorney for the council. He frequently looked to council members and smirked, even once was seen rolling his eyes, as Saulsberry made his pitch. Council member Janis Fullilove was inclined to laugh during the presentation as Wade made faces. Council chairman Kemp Conrad looked over to Chief Operating Officer of the City Doug McGowen and smirked. McGowan smiled back. Council member Worth Morgan was seen smirking at other council members or attorney Wade while Saulsberry was speaking. Council member Philip Spinosa, Jr. went so far as to criticize Saulsberry’s pronunciation of council member Frank Colvett’s last name by Saulsberry and that the documentation DSG had provided misspelled the name of a building at the Fairgrounds (the Pipkin Building). Maybe, or maybe not, such errors are worthy of dismissing a proposal for the use of city property.

Smirking is a pejorative word which this writer is using a lot in this article. It seems to fit better than any other, however. Clearly there was not native humor in the subject matter. The smiles were of derision. Usually such a conclusion should not be made by an observer and relayed as such to readers. Typically the facts are presented and the reader is left to draw her/his own conclusion. In the case of facial expressions and the timing of these, it is difficult, perhaps impossible, to relay to the reader the nature of those expressions without drawing the natural interpretation and referring to it in that way.

No matter how lame they may have thought the proposal by the DSG Group was, the behavior of some council members and their attorney was inappropriate and embarrassing for the citizens of Memphis.

Any alternative proposal for the use of the idle Mid South Coliseum as well as the commercial, private, for profit concept of Wiseacre Brewing deserved respectful attention, even if it falls far short of what a city official may think desirable.

Earlier this year council members listened to hours and hours of pitches from supposedly non-profit organizations that wanted money from the city, some pretty tenuous organizations with vague plans. No smirks were observed during these proposals.

The rapid acceptance by council members of the Wiseacre concept to convert the coliseum to a beer brewery already has to raise questions. Rarely has local government worked so fast. The behavior of council members to Saulsberry’s presentation before the “executive committee” of the council cannot but continue to make one wonder just what is going on.

At the formal council meeting later in the day, the council voted to adopt its minutes from its meeting two week ago which confirmed the city’s commitment to give a long term lease to Wiseacre Brewing to convert the Mid South Coliseum into a brewery. The beer maker now has 180 days to review the feasibility and to go forward or opt out of the deal.

Coliseum Conundrum— Coalition Officers Resign

coliseumAugust 10, 2016 – As
far as this writer knows, it has not yet been reported that the president of the Coliseum Coalition in Memphis and the organization’s secretary both resigned in early August, according to a source in a position to know. The reason for their resignations is unclear but it raises a question whether their resignations are related to a proposal to turn the Mid-South Coliseum into a for-profit, private corporation, brewery. The resignations of president Mike McCarthy and secretary Marilyn Albert at about the same time as the Wiseacre proposal was being shopped around to the grassroots organizations intent on saving the coliseum is a very suspicious coincidence, at best.

The Coliseum Coalition’s web page has expired and as best we can tell its Facebook page as of earlier today did not mention a change in the organization’s leadership.

Wiseacre Brewery has proposed moving its operation into the unused Mid-South Coliseum, using the 60 foot tall ceiling to accommodate its large stainless steel tanks in the center of the one-time basketball arena and concert venue, removing the seats, and leasing the “pie shaped” seating sections for various uses, i.e. restaurants, museums, all with a glass wall allowing guests to look out at the steel tanks.

Wiseacre’s Frank Smith outlined the proposal before a City Council committee Tuesday saying that he was not asking the city for money but if this proposal is going forward he wants confidence there will be no change of mind on part of the city. He says his business is willing to put $12-million into a new facility, whether it be at the coliseum or elsewhere because the brewery is outgrowing its current space on Broad Avenue. Smith says if the decision is made and renovation begins to put the brewery into the coliseum, there will never be another concert or another graduation ceremony in the coliseum. The seats will be removed and significant changes made to the floor plan.

It is reported that most of the Memphis City Council members expressed support for the plan. It is clear that the public is divided in its opinion of the proposal.

The Mid-South Coliseum has been the subject of several groups attempting to save it after the city proposed demolishing it and creating a mixture of commercial, for-profit businesses along with other uses for the old Fairgournds property. It has just been within the past year, perhaps the last six months, that those wishing to save the coliseum and hoping it can be returned to a public use, especially as a venue for concerts and graduations, have been able to rest easy. The city’s plan for the Fairgrounds which included demolition of the coliseum, developed under former Community Development Director Robert Lipscomb, faltered under strong community opposition. When Lipscomb was left the job in 2015 under allegations of sexual misconduct with a minor and thereafter a new mayor came into office in Memphis in January, 2016, those plans appeared to die. Hope among the public proponents of reviving the coliseum as an entertainment venue were buoyed.

The Wiseacre proposal seems reasonable as a last chance alternative to save the external structure of the Mid-South Coliseum. The question raised, however, is whether or not the situation is at the last chance stage. Given that the apparent threat of imminent demolition of the iconic structure has just dissipated within the past year, it could well be argued that the city is not at the last chance stage for making the coliseum a an entertainment venue once again. The problem with the Wiseacre proposal, then, becomes timing. Smith says that it must make a decision and begin construction on a new facility in 2017. That does not give much time for other prospects to develop.

The Mid-South Coliseum was built to be a facility for pubic use. It is owned by the residents of Memphis. There obviously is a strong will among people that it return to that use. Others think that turning it over to a private, for-profit business such as Wiseacre saves the external structure and brings the city revenue. The Mid-South Coliseum is, indeed, an iconic image to behold but it much more than that. Those seeking to restore the building to some degree of its past say it holds historic value in its pubic entertainment venue uses, not merely the “round house” external structure.

Has the possibility of restoring the Mid-South Coliseum to something of its past glory past or are those jumping on the Wiseacre bandwagon rushing to judgment?

The Achievers

“The Achievers” sounds like a television show title, does it not? Maybe it should be. It certainly would have the stars.

In this reference, The Achievers relates to about 1,200 students attending Shelby County (Tennessee) schools taking classes which can earn both high school and college credits. Some of these students enter college with sophomore credits, a few even as rising juniors, according to Shelby County Schools.

The route taken by these scholars varies. Those paths include Advanced Placement, Dual Credit, or Dual Enrollment courses. These courses are offered in one form or another at 29 high schools in the Shelby County School District, which operates 31 high schools.

To get the college credit, which can be dependent on the acceptance by individual colleges, the student does not just have to barely pass the class, but must make a higher grade, usually an A, B, or C.  The barely passing mark of “D” will not do for the post-secondary school credit. Administrators report that 94% of the students enrolled in these advanced courses earn the passing grade qualifying them for the college credit.

From time to time you may have heard of a high school student with a grade point average (GPA) above 4.0 and wondered how that can be when, traditionally, an A, the highest grade, equates to 4 points. Advanced courses can be the route to a higher GPA. For example, a grade of A in an Advanced Placement course earns the student five points in the Shelby County system.

This observer over the years has noted that in schools with an overall poor academic performance in the Shelby County School District, and before the merger also Memphis City Schools, there were at least a small group of students who seemed to excel. Many of these may take advantage of these special course offerings to get college credit while still in high school. These are the performance stars in The Achievers.

Shelby County Schools: “making progress on righting the ship” in internal audit operations

October 30, 2015 – It is probably not uncommon for new administrators or consultants to cite failures of their predecessors. How much is valid and how much is self-promotion, or both, might be debatable.

scs-cafr-coverThe former long time internal auditor for Shelby County Schools (SCS), Melvin Burgess, was reassigned to another job at less pay within the school district during the first quarter of 2014.

Recently, Leon Pattman was hired as Chief of Internal Audit at SCS. His previous position was Chief Audit Executive/City Auditor for the City of Memphis.

Pattman, had a number of things to say about the past practices of the department at SCS and that he was “making progress on righting the ship.”

Pattman says the requirements in the Internal Audit department “were set forth to meet the floor,” meaning the minimum.  Noting that he has done peer reviews all over the country, Pattman went on to say, “[A]nd then the audit  documentation required, in my estimation, could not pass a peer review.” He said “… there were simply statements being made in audit reports I could not prove.”  Pattman says that for his six or seven weeks on the job he’s had to validate all the things that the audit department is doing and begin to retrain the way the Internal Audit staff members think.  In addition, he has asked for and gotten additional personnel from a temporary employment agency to help in finishing individual school audits by the target of November 21. He expressed confidence in meeting the deadline and also in his permanent staff. “I have good people and I anticipate that every last one of them will be – I will help them raise the level doing professional development – but they were doing things to meet what they were expected. With low expectations you get low results. So I’ve raised the expectations. So we’re going to continue to make sure that each audit report will be called adequate, sufficient, and reliable audit evidence to prove what we’re talking about.” He went on to say, “[A]nother thing we’ve done is, as opposed to putting these canned audit statements in there about what’s going on, [we’ve] told the whole story… We’ve had a lot of issues in terms of bring that audit quality level up… we’re working our way through these challenges right now to get us beyond this point where we are. And then once we get beyond this point we will begin to fully implement the new plan for how we’re going to do the next cycle of school audits which I anticipate we’re going to deliver significant quality – you’ll see the difference to be able to see what’s really going on.”

Pattman also said he will be recommending the hiring of a information technology auditor. He says he believes if SCS had had a full blown security audit … we would have known we had a vulnerability. The SCS payroll system was hacked earlier in the year and direct deposit payments for about ten employees were redirected to pre-paid cards.

After hearing reports from Pattman and newly hired Chief Financial Officer Lin Johnson, Shelby County Board of Education member Chris Caldwell, who is chairman of the board’s Audit, Budget and Finance Committee,  said he was “very encouraged, we’re very close to getting all this right.”

Possible Poor Procedure “Passes” Parking Project

butler-garageOctober 7, 2015 – The Design Review Board (DRB) today approved a new building which will house a parking garage and 15 apartments across Tennessee Street from the Tennessee Brewery and part of that restoration project. The building is known as the Butler Parking Garage & Bottle Shop Apartments and would be at Tennessee Street and Mina Avenue in downtown Memphis.

The approval, however, came after the proposal apparently failed on a tie vote, an unusual proclamation by the chairman that the motion remained on the table after the initial vote, lectures by two staff members, including the Downtown Memphis Commission (DMC) president, and the chairman of the board, and a then a roll call vote.

While the DRB staff supported approval of the project, three citizens or their representatives spoke against it as proposed.

In common meeting rules, including Roberts Rules of Order, a tie vote on a motion means the motion does not pass. It fails. Consideration of the matter is then completed. The only way it can be considered further is if a board member who was on the prevailing side makes a motion for reconsideration and that motion is approved by the body. Since only two people voted during the original voice vote, the one board member voting no would be the only person who could have moved for reconsideration. There was no such motion from anyone, including the member who was on the prevailing side.

Instead, the chairman declared the original motion to approve the proposal as presented by staff was still on the table for consideration.

From that point, the DMC Development Project Manager who had given the staff report recommending approval again emphasized the project matched the Design Review Board’s guidelines and the staff fully supported the proposal. (It might be noted that when the One Beale Street project recently came before DMC boards of directors the staff did not object to its height violation of the South Main District guidelines. In fact, DMC staff supported the violation. )

The president of the DMC chimed in saying that while the arguments of the neighbors who appeared before the board to object to the project were appreciated, the points they made were not new. He went on to say those objections had been considered by the staff but the overall project’s value to downtown weighed in favor of the development. The chairman of the DRB added that it would be unusual to expect neighborhoods in an emerging downtown to remain unchanged.

The chairman then called for a roll call vote on the motion which, by typical procedure, had already been defeated and would no longer be up for additional consideration. At that point, all six votes were in favor of the project.

Whether the lack of objection to the procedure followed mitigates the apparent violation of common rules of order is questionable. That seems to raise the question, did the Design Review Board really approve the project if it was not, at the time of the roll call vote, properly before it?