Big plans presented to enhance Beale Street - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Big plans presented to enhance Beale Street

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(WMC-TV) - The Beale Street Strategic Planning Committee presented its first report to Memphis Mayor A C Wharton with suggestions to enhance the city's top tourism attraction.

The 58-page report will serve as a guide to Mayor A C Wharton and the Memphis City Council to help steer Beale Street's future and attract even more visitors to the entertainment district.

First and foremost, the city will determine a model to operate Beale Street.

The city just settled an 11-year lawsuit against the former private operator of the street, Performa Entertainment, to gain control of the three-block long strip.

The action allowed the city to end the original 52-year lease with Performa.

The new model could be run by a Beale Street Business Improvement District. The other option for the operational model would be to have a new private operator, but the lease would be limited to five years.

"We've got to have somebody come in here who wakes up every morning and whose job is to say, 'What can I do to make Beale Street the best it can be?'" said Memphis Mayor A C Wharton. "To do that you're going to have to answer the questions, 'Are we true to the Beale Street mission? Is Beale Street as safe as it can be?'"

Committee Chairman Jeff Sanford says their plan to make Beale Street better includes developing a 200 to 500 seat venue, planned daily activities, marketing Beale online, and expanding the entertainment district.

"To extend west towards the river to connect with Beale Street Landing, the Orpheum, the shops on Main Street," said Jeff Sanford, Beale Street Strategic Planning Committee.

Grammy-winning Saxophonist Kirk Whalum wants to help attract more visitors, including a plan to target untapped customers over age 45 and to showcase more Blues.

"The old Memphis like the birth of the Blues from the 1800s and also a sophisticated jazz experience," explained Wahlum.

From better security to cleaner streets and speedier I.D. checks, the mayor says the plan hinges on one thing... who is going to run Beale Street?

The Memphis City Council will decide if a private contractor should run Beale or a city-run Beale Street Business Improvement District staff.

The mayor and city council will now take these suggestions and decide how to proceed.

No timeline was released Monday.

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