Home Elected Officials BOC May Work Session: Positive News in Multiples

BOC May Work Session: Positive News in Multiples

John Lowery, left, Yehuda Netanel.

Envision this:

  • A new hotel for Lakeland
  • A reduced property tax
  • Permanent outdoor restrooms at the IH Park.

The Hotel would start this fall at The Lake District (TLD), the property tax could drop below the potential certified tax rate of $1.27 and a non-profit group of citizens wants to raise money to fund the lakeside restrooms.

The “good news” items were among a myriad of topics reviewed during the Board of Commissioners (BOC) work session tonight (5.4.17).

The Lake District (TLD)

A resolution requesting a one-year extension of the TIF (Tax Increment Financing) Plan for TLD moved into conversation about new developments for the property site, the former Outlet Mall.

Maurice Denbow, secretary for the Economic Development Commission (EDC), said members believed, “It was in our own best interests to allow the extension.”

The developer for TLD, Yehuda Netanel, addressed the Board noting good news on two fronts: the ugly pole signs have been removed from the former Outlet Mall and he has 50-50 partner for the project, John Lowery from Fort Worth, TX.

Mr. Lowery is the president and CEO of Lowery Companies, LLC, a real estate development and construction company in Dallas. The company focuses on mixed-use developments.

Mr. Lowery said there is an “agreement in principle” for Tru by Hilton.  “This is not an official announcement, he said but an agreement in principle.”  Link to the new brand which would be a first for Memphis:


Mr. Lowery added there would not be a restaurant in the hotel but instead there would be several restaurants contiguous to the hotel, “At least two sit-down restaurants,” he said.

Financing will come through Stifel, a full service brokerage and investment banking firm in New York, said Mr. Lowery, speaking of the $39 million in TIF funds for infrastructure.

Although Mr. Lowery lives in Texas now, he grew up in Collierville and says he has an appreciation for Lakeland.  He said there is a critical path to close this site of 165 acres (including the Belz property which is under contract to Mr. Netanel).  He said A2H of Lakeland will be the civil engineers and he hopes to close on the bond issue in the fourth quarter of 2017. Construction of the hotel should be in the fourth quarter.

Mr. Netanel hopes for demolition of the annex building and entire mall structure before Thanksgiving and is still expecting to have a big demo party.  He anticipates the entire “urban village” project will take four years to build out.  He said he expects to close sometime in early 2018 on the remaining property which is currently owned by Belz but under contract to Mr. Netanel.

Tom Skehan, city planning director, said the City must have a timeframe on the project by June to start work in October.

Lakeland Property Tax

A special 6 p.m. meeting setting the tax rate for Lakeland was cancelled at the last minute because of word from the Shelby County Assessor’s Office.

But Mayor Wyatt Bunker said he wanted to share good news anyway.  He said he expects to reduce the City tax rate beyond the certified tax rate which is estimated to be $1.27.  “This will be a recommendation from this Board,” he said.  “All of the commissioners have expressed a commitment to economic development and tax and fee reductions for our citizens. This is a dream come true in Lakeland. I hope everyone will be pleased to hear that.”

Commissioner Matt Wright said the Shelby County Commission might also consider a tax reduction.

The BOC expects to hear from the Assessor before the regular meeting May 11.

Permanent restrooms at IH Park

The Lakeland Entertainment Group approached the BOC for an alcoholic beverages permit for concerts they expect to have at The LAMP.  Doug Golden and Mari Authement want to sponsor Tribute Concerts and people’s choice food competitions to raise money for permanent restrooms at IH Park.  Along with Perry Ferrell, the sponsors have dubbed the effort “the Fund-A-Loo Project.”

The restrooms would match the style of The LAMP stage and would cost $20,000 for plumbing and $94,000 for the structure.

The tribute band concerts would be June 17, Pink Floyd; Aug. 19, Rolling Stones; and Sept. 30, Prince.  Ticket prices would be $35, $45 and $50

The Group started as a community enhancing non-profit raising money for Garner Lake where they live. Thinking it would be fun to get the community together for fun, they decided The LAMP would be a great way to expand their efforts from Garner Lake to all of Lakeland.

And the rest of the meeting

Lt. Kathy Crowder from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office shared monthly crime statistics.  Her report showed 34 incidents for April, down from March.  She also said Jim Atkinson, city manager, notified her of some speeding problems in the City and patrols have been increased in those areas.

The most frequent time for crime was between 2-6 p.m. and the most incidents (8) were on Mondays and Wednesdays.

She suggested a website to monitor crime: www.spotcrime.com 

Dr. Ted Horrell, Lakeland School System (LSS) Superintendent, provided details that went into the new budget for LSS. The System expects 1,450 students in August with 830 students at Lakeland Elementary School and 620 at Lakeland Middle Preparatory School. For the third year in a row, he said the System has not asked for any additional operating funds from the City.

In his May report, Mr. Atkinson outlined upcoming events for the City: Tour de Lakeland May 13; Interchange Worker Appreciation Lunch May 17; first LAMP concert and Fishing Rodeo May 20. He outlined upcoming legislation including property maintenance regulations, a municipal court, security, transportation plan amendments and the Clear Creek sanitary sewer interceptor concept plan.

Lakeland resident Bob Woody asked the BOC for help with illegal dumping in his Bentbrooke Hills neighborhood.

There was a final reading on amending the Fiscal Year 2016-17 budget. A $25,000 Shelby County Commission grant was added for Gateway Signs on U.S. Highway 70 and does not require a match from the City.  The amount is neutral said Jessica Millspaugh, city finance director, since the money will be received and then spent for the new signs.

Jimmy Moore with the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce came before the BOC. Mayor Bunker said he is very impressed with the new Chamber leadership and their push for economic development for the City.  “I think we can justify restoring $500 (per month) to funding for the Chamber. Last year the City reduced the funding from $1,500 a month to $1,000 per month.  The additional $500 per month would be backdated to July 2016.

Mr. Atkinson talked about EDGE (Economic Development Growth Engine) grants which have been used for Gateway signs and a promotional video for the City.  He said he’d like to apply for larger grants next year and will include a draft in the new budget.

See photo album from tonight’s meeting.  By Jim Willis, Lakeland Currents.


Mari Authement, and Doug Golden
Mayor Wyatt Bunker