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VOL. 130 | NO. 158 | Friday, August 14, 2015

Beale Authority Sets Timetable for Taking Lease To City Hall

By Bill Dries

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The Beale Street Tourism Development Authority is looking at a narrow three-month window to get its lease agreement with City Hall signed and in effect, begin its work for the city and hire some kind of day-to-day manager for the entertainment district.

The window begins after the Memphis elections are decided, specifically the Memphis City Council races -- but before the current city council leaves office at the end of the year.

That’s when the authority hopes to have a draft lease agreement for the council to consider and vote on. That would be followed by the authority pursuing one of several options outlined at the authority’s Thursday, Aug. 13, meeting for day-to-day management of the district between Second and Fourth Streets.

City council member Edmund Ford Jr. advised others on the authority that the council won’t want to wade into the details of a lease before the elections run their course. And authority members said Thursday they want to get approval of the agreement from the council members who set the terms for the authority in the first place rather than try to explain it to a new council.

At least six of the 13 council seats will change hands in the 2015 Memphis elections. That’s how many incumbents on the body are not seeking re-election on the Oct. 8 ballot.

Deciding all of the races could take a bit longer. The seven single-member district council races require a win with a majority of the votes cast. If no candidate gets a majority in those districts, the top two contenders advance to a Nov. 3 runoff election.

The winners in the city elections take office on January 1.

Other factors in the drive to get the authority up and running with some kind of management agreement to follow closely are the ability to have a longer term direction for prospective tenants as the authority works on expanding the district beyond its current borders.

And Downtown Memphis Commission president Paul Morris is leaving his DMC post sometime in the fall. The DMC has been managing the district for the city for the last year and a half in the interim period between the exit of Beale’s original developer John Elkington and the authority taking over.

Morris indicated Thursday he could stay on at the Beale post after he exits the DMC. But it would require a new agreement between the DMC and the authority. The current arrangement is between the DMC and the city of Memphis.

Ford and authority chairman Archie Willis advised taking a draft lease agreement to the council no later than the council’s Nov. 17 committee sessions for discussion. A council vote on the resolution would follow at the Dec. 1 or Dec. 15 council sessions, leaving room for a possible delay and more committee discussion if needed.

The authority could have a draft agreement ready to vote on at its next meeting Sept. 10.

PROPERTY SALES 51 328 20,960
MORTGAGES 58 387 24,132
BUILDING PERMITS 170 842 43,435
BANKRUPTCIES 50 288 13,468