Battle over who should control Beale Street brews

Battle over who should control Beale Street brews

(WMC-TV) – A legal battle is brewing over the control of the world famous Beale Street.

Beale Street is one of the biggest draws to the city, but now there is a fight over who controls the street and the money.

Depending on how a judge rules, the lengthy court battle will either end this week or run on indefinitely.

The Beale Street battle is long and complicated but it now boils down to one thing.

"Whether the street that's owned by the city will be returned to control by the city," said Memphis City Attorney Herman Morris.

On Monday, a federal bankruptcy judge took on the 12-year-old case.

The stakes are high because Beale Street is to Memphis as coleslaw is to barbecue.

"Beale Street belongs to the City of Memphis and that's the citizens and we all have a stake and interest in it," said Morris.

To clearly understand the three players in the ring, imagine the Entertainment District is a house.

Beale Street Development Corporation owns the house.

The City of Memphis owns the land.

And Performa maintains the property.

After BSDC and Performa spent a decade fighting over money, Mayor A C Wharton took office and negotiated a deal with Performa.

"What we have agreed with them is they will assign their interest in that contract back to the city," said Morris.

Performa filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2010.

BSDC says Performa owes them an undisclosed amount of money, in the millions.

Performa contends they're due $1.4 million.

Now, a bankruptcy judge will decide who is right.

If Performa wins, the city will take control of Beale Street.

"If it's done well and done right, we hope it'll pay for itself and there'll be enough left for the city to reinvest in its future development," said Morris.

If Beale Street Development Corporation wins, they would take control of Beale.

The trial is expected to last until Tuesday.

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