Some Memphis City Council members upset about Performa settlement

By Lori Brown - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - If you thought the battle over Beale Street was over, think again.  Some Memphis City Council members are concerned taxpayers got a raw deal in a settlement reached early this month between the city of Memphis and Performa.

The city claimed Performa, the firm that manages Beale Street, was using money it owed city taxpayers to develop entertainment districts outside Tennessee.  Performa countered, saying it had not profited off Beale Street since 1982, arguing it was owed $1.5 million by the city.

Now, under Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, the city has settled the multi-million dollar lawsuit.  City Council Member Myron Lowery says that's good news and bad news, and ultimately, it was the city's only choice.

"I'm disappointed that the city of Memphis did not receive some money from this case," Lowery said.

Even so, Lowery believes the settlement was necessary.

"Mr. Elkington filed bankruptcy for Performa entertainment," he said. "Even if we'd gone on in court and won a judgement, we would not have been able to collect any money, because of that bankruptcy filing.

According to Lowery, there was a silver lining to the settlement.

"We saved attorney's fees in the long run by settling this case," he said.

At one point the attorney's fees were really stacking up.

"When I was Mayor Pro Tem, I fired the attorney on this case because he was making $35,000 a month, and saying we were owed $6 million. That amount proved to be false," Lowery said.

While the city isn't getting any money from the settlement, Performa is.  A city study says Performa will now walk away with about $8.7 million to turn over control of Beale Street to the city.

There are many Memphis City Council members who are concerned about the settlement. Some of those council members declined an interview on the topic, while others did not return our phone calls.

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