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VOL. 128 | NO. 69 | Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Troubled Beale Nightspot Changes Hands

By Bill Dries

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It’s been almost four months since Club Crave, the Beale Street nightspot with a history of violence under several names, was closed as a public nuisance under state law.

As the legal question of whether the building at 380 Beale St. is off limits for any future nightclub leases works its way through Shelby County General Sessions Environmental Court, the ownership of the club has changed in the last four months.

The city of Memphis and the Shelby County District Attorney General’s office are seeking to close the location permanently as a location for entertainment or a nightclub and Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. wants the building demolished.

But the city doesn’t own the building or the property on the other side of Fourth Street from the formal eastern boundary of the Beale Street entertainment district. And now, neither does the nonprofit corporation that has the lease with the city as part of the complex chain of how the entertainment district is managed and developed.

All sides in the nuisance action are scheduled to report to Environmental Court Judge Larry Potter on May 1, the latest in a series of hearings.

The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s office records show Beale Street Development Corp no longer owns the property. The nonprofit that had been leasing it to George Miller sold the property to Miller Memphis Inc. on Dec. 5 for $312,013. It is the first transaction involving the property in 38 years since June 6, 1974.

All sides in the nuisance action related to Club Crave on Beale Street are scheduled to report to Environmental Court Judge Larry Potter on May 1.

And Chancellor Walter Evans ordered it in November 2011. Evans’ court order that BSDC had to turn over the property ended a legal dispute that began in 2004 when Miller indicated he wanted to exercise an option to buy the property in his lease with BSDC.

The agreement was made when Miller was also executive director of the nonprofit.

The development corporation contested the option in Chancery Court for years, arguing Miller was in default on his rent to the BSDC and that the lease was terminated.

Evans ruled the development corporation’s notice of default didn’t meet terms of the agreement and that Miller properly exercised his option to buy the property.

Miller Memphis Inc. is a for-profit Tennessee corporation that lists 380 Beale St. as its principal office and George Miller as its principal. The company was formed March 1, 1973, according to state records.

The sale to Miller Memphis Inc. came as Memphis Police were gathering elements of the case they and the Shelby County District Attorney General’s office would make in Environmental Court for the permanent closing of any nightclub operating in the building.

Weeks later one person was killed and two others were injured in a Christmas Eve shooting at Club Crave, the latest in a series of clubs that leased the space from Miller even as he leased the space from Beale Street Development Corp. while the court fight over that dragged on in Chancery Court.

District Attorney General Amy Weirich and Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. went public with the court order closing Crave two days after Christmas and Wharton added the city’s goal was to see the building demolished.

The nuisance court order names both Beale Street Development Corp. and Miller.

Potter ordered in January that Club Crave is shut down permanently from operating at 380 Beale or anywhere else. He also prohibited Double Entity Inc., the business run by Rodney and Randy Williams that operated Crave, from promoting, managing or operating any events at any location that were among the events they ran at Crave.

What remains before Potter is what Miller is allowed to do on the property he now owns directly.

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RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 57 307 5,073
MORTGAGES 101 483 6,709
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 22 77 1,556
BUILDING PERMITS 0 720 11,979
BANKRUPTCIES 84 341 5,300
BUSINESS LICENSES 36 125 2,061
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 152 594 7,058
MARRIAGE LICENSES 36 117 1,458

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