John Elkington speaks about Beale lawsuit settlement

By Jason Miles - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - It's been nearly 30 years since John Elkington and Performa Entertainment took on the tall task of redeveloping world famous Beale Street.

"It had been boarded up for almost 10 years when we took it over," Elkington said Monday.

Elkington is ready to relinquish control to the city of Memphis, but says he leaves confident in his accomplishments.

"I grew up in this town, live in this town, will die in this town," he said. "And I believe in Memphis and we need more people to step up and do things to build this community, and I did that."

Elkington and the city settled a contentious, years-long lawsuit fewer than 24 hours before it was scheduled to go to court.

"We think it's a fair settlement under the circumstances," said Mayor A C Wharton during a Monday afternoon news conference.

Wharton commended Elkington for his work, but promised a better Beale going forward.

"Whomever comes onto Beale Street will know who the landlord is," Wharton said. "They'll know who to pay. They'll know who speaks for them."

"We got what we wanted," Elkington said.  "I think the city got what they wanted."

Under the settlement, Elkington says he and his company will get a percentage of rent from Beale Street tenants and their legal fees will eventually be paid.

Meanwhile, taxpayers will no longer foot massive legal bills on behalf of the city.

"I thought it was important to get on and move on with whatever plans the city of Memphis has," Elkington said.

Elkington said his future plans may include other projects in the city.

The city's lawsuit with the Beale Street Development Corporation has yet to be settled.

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