MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Over the years, the battle over control of Beale Street has provided enough material for any blues singer. The final verse is about to be written as the City of Memphis and the entertainment district's current operator inch closer to a deal.
The city and Performa Entertainment Real Estate, which has the lease to operate the Beale Street Historic District, recently reached a modified settlement agreement.
Under the agreement, the city will find a new operator to run Beale Street.
John Elkington, who runs Performa, said by phone he's happy with the deal. He declined an on-camera interview with abc24.com.
"I think that Mr. Elkington has done a tremendous job over the last 25 years," says City Councilman Kemp Conrad, "making Beale the biggest tourist attraction in the state of Tennessee. But I think it was time for a change. Now the city can craft the next 25 years of Beale Street."
Under the settlement, Elkington's legal fees will be paid, and he'll continue to receive five percent on all current leases through 2034.
"For too long, the city has not received any funds from Beale Street," says City Council Chairman Myron Lowery. "We spent money on attorneys fees, trying to secure dollars, at last we will be able to secure some dollars from those assets."
Elkington disagrees, saying even though the district brings in around $1.4 million in revenue, after expenses, there isn't much left.
"Well, that is $100,000 or $200,000 more then the city has made in the past," says Lowery, "so that's good. I'm not sure what the true estimates are, or what the city will receive, but anything is better then nothing."
Last year Mayor A C Wharton appointed a 31-member panel to study issues related to Beale Street. Councilman Conrad was one of the members. He tells abc24.com the finalized report should be released next Tuesday, September 20, 2011.