Beale Authority Reopens Management Firm Search, Draws Fire

By Bill Dries

The Beale Street Tourism Development Authority has decided to reopen the process for finding a manager for the entertainment district, putting off the selection of a firm possibly until September.

In seeking new proposals by the end of June, the authority voted to keep the proposals from four companies the group has been reviewing for several months and allow those companies to amend their proposals if they wish.

But the leader of one of the four companies – the only black-owned entity of the four -- told the authority at its Thursday, March 17, that it is unfair to reopen the process.

Dwain Kyles of the 21 Beale Street Inc. group said the company’s proposal was “head and shoulders” above the other three proposals.

“Frankly I’m trying not to have my feelings hurt because to suggest that our proposal after all the work we did … I am in disbelief that our proposal was found substantially lacking in any area,” he said. “I am extraordinarily and vehemently opposed to reopening this bid. You’re not going to get a whole lot of new people unless you go out and put them together. … You’re not going to get better people. If you do get somebody, the price that you’re going to pay is certainly going to be a whole lot more.”

Jeff Sanford, a consultant to the authority, said the process was reopened because after a review of all four proposals and individual interviews with the four companies there was a “reluctance” by the authority’s search committee to select any one of the four.

“There are financial problems with some of the bids. We can’t afford,” said authority member Caren Nichol. “We can’t fund what some of the groups have asked us to do because we don’t have the money.”

The management firm is to be paid with revenues made in the district.

Ross Boswell, the authority member who is heading the search committee, said several tenants in the district also expressed concerns about a transition to a management firm during April and May, the two busiest months of the year for the district

Interim Beale Street manager Paul Morris said he “saw some gaps” in the proposals and had “real serious questions about each.”

Those questions could be resolved by some or all of the applicants he was quick to add.

And the authority authorized Sanford to talk with each of the four companies separately about specific problems in their proposals.

The other three companies that applied are: Capital Realty Services LLC of Memphis, ML Professional Properties of Memphis and Jones, Lang, LaSalle Americas Inc., a national company with offices in Memphis and Nashville. JLL’s Charlotte office is the contact point for the company’s Beale Street proposal.