380 Beale supporter starts online petition against demolition

380 Beale supporter starts online petition against demolition

(WMC-TV) – The building at 380 Beale Street has a notorious history, but not everyone wants to see it demolished.

So far, it seems that closing Club Crave, the most recent business to operate the building, has been a popular decision in the community. But knocking down the building may meet with some resistance.

"My initial reaction was that I couldn't believe it," said Erskine Gillespie, who wants to save the building at 380 Beale Street.

Erskine Gillespie created an online petition to save the building just moments after Memphis Mayor A C Wharton announced their plans to knock it down.

"Well, just because you have bad tenants would you tear your house down or would you move those tenants out and find other people that could come in and take care of your property?" said Gillespie.

Gillespie suggests turning back the clock instead and opening a theater for local and independent movies, similar to its original use as the Muhammad Ali Towne 2 Theatre that opened in June 1975.

George Miller owned the building then and now.

When the Plush Club was evicted, he warned future tenants:

"You're going to have to meet the scrub-clean test, and that means the DA is going to check you out."

This time around, Miller has declined comment on the advice of his attorney.

While the mayor and Beale Street merchants try to bulldoze the building, Gillespie hopes his petition collects enough digital signatures to ask them to think again.

"I'm hoping the mayor would give reconsideration to the statement he made on yesterday," said Gillespie. "There is historical value to that building."

He continued, "Let's think about other uses that we can do for that building and bring some more vitality to that end of Beale Street."

Gillespie's condemnation petition is expected to be filed mid-to-late January.

Miller and Crave owners are due in environmental court on Wednesday.

Copyright 2012 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.