Control of Beale Street to Soon Change Hands

Control of Beale Street to Soon Change Hands

The Beale Street Entertainment District stretches from Second to Fourth Street downtown, and a long legal battle for city control of the small but mighty area is nearing an end.
MEMPHIS, TN (localmemphis.com) - The Beale Street Entertainment District stretches from Second to Fourth Street downtown, and a long legal battle for city control of the small but mighty area is nearing an end.

A lot of people probably don't know that a good chunk of Beale Street is run by a private developer. The city, however, is close to taking over.

The last legal battle is over a complicated financial plan concerning W.C. Handy Park.

"We will have absolute total and complete control," says Memphis Mayor A C Wharton. "Keep in mind the Beale Street Development Foundation litigation has been resolved, any claims that Mr. Elkington [with Performa Entertainment] had with the city, that's gone. It's simply now that dispute regarding the control of Handy Park."

Just this week the company that now runs Beale Street, Performa Entertainment, made some big changes concerning when clubs can play music in outdoor speakers, as well as changes concerning beer stands and wagons on Beale.

Performa has had this place since its original renovation thirty years ago; when the city takes over, Performa will be gone.

Wharton says, "When you see us go into the solicitation process of who's going to run it, you will hear not merely 'Will you manage Beale Street,' but it will be 'Will you further develop Beale Street.'"

The Wharton goal is to develop Beale from Fourth Street down to the river, but it's going to be a challenge.

"The city doesn't have the capital to invest, but there's just so much potential there, places that have not been developed."

Mayor Wharton says Beale Street is critically important because it makes Memphis what it is. We're not Las Vegas or Nashville or Atlanta, he says. We are Memphis, and Beale Street is Memphis.

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