Elkington envisions big changes on Beale St. - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Elkington envisions big changes on Beale St.

One man gets much of the credit for making Beale Street what it is today.

"It's the most successful venture the city and private industry has ever done together," says John Elkington.

But now, Elkington wants to change it. Basically, he wants to allow businesses to buy the buildings in which they operate.

"You know, people want longer terms or they want to own something--and under the present situation, it's really difficult to do that," says Elkington.

Currently, the city of Memphis leases Beale Street to Elkington's Performa Entertainment, which then sub-leases to individual businesses. Elkington sent a letter to city hall more than a month ago. The mayor has not responded, until now.

"I think John understands that the growth of Beale Street is important to the downtown renaissance and there may be some other opportunities," says Mayor Willie Herenton.

But by no means is the idea to privatize Beale in the bag.

"I have not evaluated that proposal, but I think it could have some promise," adds the mayor.

"Any prudent business looks at the reality and how to maximize our investment," says Elkington.

He says the goal is to make the state's most popular tourist attraction even better.

Right now, John Elkington is crunching the numbers to see just how much Beale Street properties are worth. No word from the mayor on when he might make a decision about selling them.

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