Beale Street firm approved for Birmingham project

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - The Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex's board of directors has unanimously approved a plan to build a privately financed $25 million downtown entertainment district.

Under the deal approved Friday, Memphis-based Performa Entertainment Real Estate will build and manage the development adjacent to the civic center.

Performa earlier had discussed spending $55 million on the district. The $25 million in the current proposal is a minimum that could change depending on interest in the project, according to the contract.

BJCC director Jack Fields told The Birmingham News for a story Saturday the construction could begin as soon as this fall.

The BJCC will retain ownership the land, but will lease it to Performa for 99 years.

Performa will sublease to tenants described as being similar to those found on Memphis' Beale Street, which is home to a B.B. King Blues Club and a Hard Rock Cafe.

In a statement after the meeting, Performa CEO John Elkington he said he envisions an entertainment district "that highlights the distinctive history and culture of Birmingham."

Under the deal, Performa will pay the BJCC 5 percent of the district's monthly gross income, which will include everything from rent paid by tenants to income from sponsorship deals with beverage companies.

Performa also will pay the BJCC 50 percent of the district's annual distributable net income, which is the money remaining after expenses and debt service.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)