Council questions Beale Street spending - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Council questions Beale Street spending

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

If you think a night out on Beale Street is expensive, you should see how much it costs to keep a roof over the buildings.

Members of Memphis' city council budget committee received a list of all repairs and improvement expenses made on Beale street since 2002 and more than $2.6 million has been spent on the entertainment district.

With the city taking over management of Beale Street, council members are questioning some of the spending.


Documents provided to the city council by Beale Street's management company, Performa Entertainment Real Estate, show over $2.6 million has been spent on maintenance and capital improvements on the city-owned buildings.

"We need to go down there and see what the buildings look like," said Councilman Harold Collins. "They ought to look like Las Vegas."

Councilman Collins, though, has concerns about some of the spending.  

"This is systematic. This is not like one time. This is we only ask for 2002 to the present," he said. "Imagine what it might look like when they signed the deal in 1982?"

Performa CEO John Elkington says he's ready to explain the spending to the city council. He said it's expensive to maintain the buildings on Beale; some of them were built a century ago. Repairs are paid for with rent revenues, and businesses can fix up their own buildings and receive "tenant improvement credits" on their rent - a program the city approved in 1983.

The types of improvements include structural repairs, and window and roof repairs. Elkington says every dollar spent is accounted for.

The council's focus on Beale Street comes as the city prepares to take over management of the entertainment district. Yearly improvements cost about $200,000.

"It's a new day and we intend to have full accountability for the citizens of this city as well as the city council," said Memphis Chief Administrative Officer George Little.

When the city will soon running things on Beale Street, it will hold spending to the same standards as it does city expenditures.

"This will hold true whether the city is administering and managing directly or whether we engage with some other entity to manage Beale street on the city's behalf," he said.

The final decision on the city controlling Beale Street was settled in bankruptcy court in January. Mayor A C Wharton is waiting on a report detailing recommendations on how the city should run Beale Street moving forward.

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