MEMPHIS, TN - New name, same problems with crime and violence. That's what Beale Street merchants fear will happen when a new club opens near the Bluff City's historic entertainment strip.
In June 2010, Memphis Police and the Shelby County District Attorney's office shut down the Plush Club, located at the corner of Beale and Fourth.
Shelby County Prosecutor Paul Hagerman says the boarded up doors and windows were a long time coming.
"The action was in response to numerous police complaints, citizen complaints and a shooting at the club," Hagerman tells abc24.com. "It sits at the top of Beale Street and the District Attorney's office and Police Department served a nuisance action on the club."
The nuisance order forever closed the Plush Club and kept the building at 380 Beale under court supervision for a year. But by August, 2011, it can reopen as a new club and prosecutors in the DA's office say they can't do anything to stop it.
The marketing director for Beale Street, Jon Shivers, says without the chaos caused by the Plush Club over the past year, it's been a much needed break for Memphis' famous tourist attraction.
"It's been much easier for Beale Street since its been shut down," he says, "not having to deal with so many kids on a weekly basis. It's been so much easier on us as far as cutting down on crime in the entertainment district and downtown in general."
But in recent weeks, Shivers noticed a new sign go up on the vacant building. The new club is called Crave. It's listed on Twitter as "Downtown's number one party spot." The men behind the club are two brothers known as "Twinz-n-Control." They are popular Memphis club promoters who often threw events at the controversial Plush Club.
Shivers says the idea of a new club in that location is worrisome.
"It brings a lot of concern for us down here," he tells abc24.com. "Our main goal is to provide the safest atmosphere possible for the whole entertainment district, for all our patrons that come down here To have the possibility of another club opening up steps from our entertainment district, yeah, we're pretty concerned about it."
But there's not much they can do. George Miller has a 99 year lease on the building through the Beale Street Development Corporation. He sublets the property to interested parties.
The court order banning the operation of a club at that location expires next month. When that happens, Miller can sublet the property to anyone he likes, except the individuals who ran the Plush Club.
Even though the new club has a new name, its' neighbors aren't sure it will be any different.
"We're very concerned it's going to go back to its' old ways and there will be problems," says Shivers.
Attorney Hagerman says that's a concern for the Shelby County DA's office, too.
"That's an important location on Beale Street with the tourists and all the business there," he says. "It's something we have to keep our eye on and that's what we'll be doing."
If the new club does have problems, a pattern of a nuisance would have to be established before legal action can be taken against the club's operators.
The men who will be running Crave couldn’t be reached for comment. George Miller's wife tells abc24.com, her husband is ill and can't answer any questions about the property.