LANA aims frustration at Blurton properties / LANA should be aiming those same frustrations at itself

Brad Greer (left) and Scott Conger (right) at the home of Frank McMeen located on King Street.

The Jackson Sun’s David Thomas produced an article in the local paper displaying the concern of Brad Greer who claimed membership and served as a past President of the Lambuth Neighborhood Association, which has in the past been recognized as one of the largest associations in the state of Tennessee. LANA’s active members pay no dues and there are no agreements among its members other than support. LANA operates by a charter established in the early 1990’s.

LANA incorporated in 1995. In 2006, (unverified) it added 501(c)(3) to it’s listing.

I was one of it’s minor founding members.

Moving forward, LANA or at least Brad Greer has decided to attack, via the media, the private company of Blurton Capital. Greer apparently has decided there is a no difference between one who milks a property without concern for tenants, neighborhoods or their own long term interests as opposed to one who by investment, creates a return to neighborhood living.

Blurton Capital, during the depression of the late 2000’s and continuing today purchased 97 (not 99) properties in all areas of the city of Jackson, most of these outside the LANA area. Blurton’s business plan is based on the conjecture of asset building as opposed to the Mundt plan of property depletion. The Mundt plan under this economy has taken it’s toll on a great many in the property depletion owners since 2007. Blurton’s plan is one that is slow but methodical. It is the same plan used in areas such as Charlestown, SC and Savannah, Georgia, certainly on a much smaller scale and without federal, state, county or city aid. It is the same plan I use. It is based on the premise of “always leave something better than you found it”.

So now Blurton Capital LLC owns Poplar Place Apartments, at 236-238 Airways Blvd.; good for them. Blurton’s intentions are to renovate and Brad Greer has a problem with it.

“We see it as a trend,” said Brad Greer, a member and past president of the Lambuth Area Neighborhood Association. “It’s a way of life for Blurton. We have so many people moving into the area and doing a wonderful job with their own property. People who want to make midtown a great place.

“But Blurton? It’s hoard and board.”

“They simply will not complete projects,” Greer said. “If you have a conversation with them, you think they are great.”

“My response? We’ve seen their track record,” Greer said. “A piecemeal operation is what we’ve seen. They do not make it happen in a timely fashion.”

So Greer throws down the gauntlet…. so what is that worth…. I could say very little and I would mean it.

What bothers me…. his using LANA as a cover. Greer is nothing more than a mouth piece typically for pay by someone else. If you think that is LANA you would be sorely mistaken. The question is for whom? The why would be normally financial.

You see for good or for bad, people have a greater affinity for another person’s passion than they do for the ideology that passion represents. Some would view Greer’s passionate plea’s be worthy and just without any knowledge as to his purpose. David Thomas failed when interviewing Greer to ask why he was concerned about the privately owned property and what would he consider as an alternative. Maybe Mr. Greer sees government ownership as an alternative or another privately company. What company? Why would you seek new companies out? Does Mr. Greer disagree with the right to own property? etc… etc…. etc. With these questions, you might understand his purpose.

Let me explain in another way …. LANA’s original passion in the beginning was, by reinvesting in property, existing properties, properties with hidden value, within the area, the area would thrive therefore helping save the property values of those that had made an effort to maintain the values of their homes already. Even that passion was motivated financially because it would protect properties from devaluation. Typically rental property does that to some residential areas and the zoning that existed in that day allowed for a higher density population within a smaller lot. Unlike today, developers could remove existing homes on 50 x 150 size lots (typical for the area) and lay down “fourplexes ” where they pleased. This is a highly profitable exercise in capital funds and the LANA area was ripe for the picking. LANA owners realized that as well and preferred single family ownership of to that of rental.

A Little More on LANA

LANA is an organization covering an area of 1,500-plus homes in midtown Jackson. This was chosen by design, larger numbers means larger influence and most of the homes in the area fell into the age bracket of 50 years or older. Of course larger numbers does not equate to larger participation. Less than 75 people attend the monthly free dinners, and a lesser number the LANA meetings which mainly consist of demonstrations and talks by the local police, fire departments, and vendors. Other than elections, it is rare that business is discussed. This was not true in the beginning where a general meeting produced enough response that it took up almost all of the University of Lambuth’s chapel to fit the population.

LANA’s Wins

One of it’s original tasks, other than it’s charter and bylaws, was to prevent the proliferation of multiple family dwellings on small lots within the midtown area of Jackson. The zoning codes in RG-2 zoning allowed such development. Because of a little governmental foot dragging, the organization agreed that the best option was to place a historic overlay over the entire area. The mayor balked so a petition was created by committee which was signed by over 95% of the property owners and registered voters within the area. Enough signatures to take the issue to a voter referendum.

This forced the city council, under fire, to offer an agreement with some exemptions. Those exemptions excluded the North Highland Historic District area which was a minor strip from downtown to Forest that included several existing apartment buildings and certain properties within the LANA area. One of those properties was the Crescent street apartments, now owned by BEM CORP OF JACKSON (Paul Mundt) and a rental house on the corner of Forest and Campbell owned by a local realtor. This agreement also left out the majority of homes claimed as members by LANA from Lambuth to Hollywood. A good number of these were protected by RG-1 zoning but were not viewed as historic properties. This passed the LANA membership with objections and later passed the Jackson City Council.

LANA’s Losses

LANA was incorporated in 1995 but lost that incorporation in 2013 for three years of non consecutive report filing. In 2006, LANA received 501(c)(3) status which it also lost in 2013 either by failing to file the required paperwork with the IRS and/or state or misstated its records intentionally. Other reasons for losing 501(c)(3) status could include:

  • Conducting extensive political lobbying;
  • Donating a substantial private benefit to individuals or other organizations for uses not aligned with the organization’s 501(c)(3) purpose;
  • Providing outsiders or insiders with personal benefits;
  • Engaging in any political activity; and
  • Having excessive unrelated business income (UBI).

LANA lost its soul and passion under the guidance of Frank McMeen, who has his own “hoard and board” problems. His political nose leading of LANA began a long time ago forcing some of our best residents to take leave. Then lost its standing under the leadership of Scott Conger, now a Jackson City Councilman and employee of WTHC Foundation, and lastly Brad Greer, whose questionable financial prowess is evident with his own personal and financial mishaps.

While I am by nature opposed to any increase in population density and passionately oppose to great numbers of rental property, I don’t think that trend will change. This is simply my opinion, I would think it best to aid Blurton instead of attempting to slander them in this rather swallow piece of dramatics, but that tends to be the method for yesterday, today and probably tomorrow by the team of McMeen, Conger and Greer.

The sad part about all of this is LANA, which was a bright star with a path in the beginning, now fighting the same curse that faces most major and minor cities… decay both outside and in. I pray that they reconnect with their rightful place in the city.

Article revised 09/19/2014

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