MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - A petition to save the building housing a notorious Beale Street nightclub is building steam. The man who started the petition says that address has history on its side.
380 Beale is where Club Crave is located now. Police and prosecutors shut it down after a Christmas Eve shooting outside the club left one man dead and two others wounded. Memphis Mayor A C Wharton wants to tear the building down.
"Why would you destroy the building just because you had bad tenants?" asked concerned citizen Erskine Gillepsie.
"The building has historic value," he said. "That building is not bad and should not pay the price for bad tenants."
380 Beale is known for a history of violence inside and around the club. For that reason the City of Memphis wants the building torn down.
"We're convinced no good can come of this place," the mayor stated after the Shelby County District Attorney's office shut down Club Crave, declaring it a public nuisance.
However Gillespie says no good can come out of turning it to rubble. He noted, "Tearing the building down will not create a job for anyone expect the people tearing it down."
Gillespie wants to save the two-story structure because he says it represents a piece of African American history.
"It did bear the name of Muhammad Ali at one time," he said. "That movie theater was one of the first black-owned movie theaters in Tennessee in over 30 years at the time it was built in 1975."
Back in the 70's when Beale Street was dead and nothing was alive on Beale Street, that building was the first building that brought life back to the street."
In his quest to save the building, Gillepsie started a petition. "We can look at repurposing that building as opposed to destroying it because it does stand for something."
Gillespie's idea is to turn 380 Beale back into a movie theater that serves dinner and caters to adults 21 and older.