Battle brewing over Beale Street - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Janice Broach

Battle brewing over Beale Street

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A fight is brewing between the man who manages Beale Street's entertainment district and the city of Memphis.  John Elkington is accused of using Beale Street for his own profit, while he counters the city simply wants control of Beale.

According to a city of Memphis report, Beale Street is the state's number one tourist attraction. But merchants on Beale Street like Elkington and New Daisy owner Mike Glenn say a battle is brewing to force them out.

"We're the ones who carried all the bills," Elkington said Monday. "We wrote all the checks. We invested all the money for 20 some years."

Now, Elkington says, they are finally making money.  Elkington and the merchants claim the city and some others want to take over the street, and get rid of some of the good deals made when no one thought Elkington could make a go of it.

Recently a civil judge ordered Elkington to turn over records. Elkington says he has done nothing wrong, and made it clear he would be happy to leave if he could get the money he would be owed if he left.

"They felt they could go in and blitzkrieg this thing and take it over," he said. "The problem is all the independent businesses who risked their fortunes and careers have said, 'No I'm not going to do it.'"

Glenn agreed with Elkington's assessment.

"It seems like someone has come up with a brand new plan and we're not part of that plan," he said.

Glenn and Elkington say the city wants to bring in a new, yet-to-be-named group to run Beale and maybe even go in a new direction.

Attorney Rickey Williams, representing Memphis, said late Monday the city wants to know if Elkington is handling lease money properly, and that there is no ploy to bring in someone else.

William said after examining Elkington's records, if everything appears to have been done properly, Elkington will have no problems.


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