VOL. 130 | NO. 202 | Friday, October 16, 2015
Beale Authority Ready To Issue Manager RFP In November
By Bill Dries
The timeline is tight. But with the city of Memphis elections done, the Beale Street Tourism Development Authority is ready to move on several fronts before the end of the year to take control of the entertainment district and hire a day-to-day property manager.
Members of the authority board voted Thursday, Oct. 15, to put out a request for proposal Nov. 2 seeking a company to manage the district on a day-to-day basis.
The request, which gives applicants a detailed idea of what is involved, is being fine-tuned from a draft reviewed last week. Jeff Sanford, a consultant to the authority, said the RFP is a hybrid that includes elements of a request for qualifications.
“We have to be very, very careful in whom we entrust management responsibility for Beale Street,” Sanford said. “Beale Street is the linchpin of the local tourism industry and one of the area’s historic treasures. We need to know beyond a shadow of a doubt who we are dealing with.”
Whoever is selected will run the day-to-day affairs of the district, which has 31 properties, 34 businesses and a variety of lease types. The authority favors a fee-for-service agreement with its manager.
Nov. 2 date marks the date of publication and starts a 45-day period for applications. The authority intends to make its choice before the end of the year, and before it has a lease agreement with the city that is approved by the Memphis City Council.
The authority should have a draft of the lease agreement and vote on it at its Nov. 12 meeting. Board attorney Casey Shannon is talking with city attorney Herman Morris and city council attorney Allan Wade, as well as Mayor-elect Jim Strickland, about details. Thus far, Shannon said, there are “no red flags” on the agreement.
With the authority’s approval, the lease agreement would go to the council for committee review Nov. 17 and a council vote Dec. 1. Mayor A C Wharton then would then sign the agreement.
The authority wants the council that leaves office at year’s end to approve the agreement since the current council approved the establishment of the authority and its terms. Authority members also don’t want to push back the start date by having to explain the agreement to the new council that takes office in January.
The lease agreement activates the authority and gives it direct control of the entertainment district. It will end two years of direct city of Memphis control over Beale Street since the exit of developer John Elkington and his Performa Entertainment Co., which oversaw the development of Beale from its 1983 reopening.
The authority would oversee the long-term direction of the district including its possible expansion beyond the borders of Second Street to the west and Fourth Street to the east.