The city signed an agreement with the Beale Street Development Corporation to redevelop Beale in 1982. Lacking management experience, the group subleased the responsibility to the company now known as Performa Entertainment Real Estate, owned by John Elkington.
Performa was supposed to take 15 percent of the rents from Beale Street establishments, then give the remainder of the funds to the development corporation, which was then to turn them over to the city.
"Since 1983, not a single dime has come back to the Beale Street Development Corporation or the city of Memphis," said BSDC member Randell Catron, accompanied at the meeting by blogger Thaddeus Matthews.
In 2002, a chancery court decision ordered Performa to enter any current or future funds into an escrow account pending further orders of the court. However, Performa never paid any funds into escrow and the city did not pursue the matter.
"Those of us who have been here a long time counted on the administration to handle this and it has not been handled," said Councilman Jack Sammons. "I got an e-mail last night about B.B. King playing and it's $200 a ticket. A lot of money is being generated on that street."
Echoing that sentiment, Charlie Ryan, an owner of Club 152 and Blues City Cafe, said his establishments have paid $1.1 million to Performa since 2003.
"As a tourist attraction, we need to make the area safe and clean, and John Elkington is in charge of doing that. We've paid $280,000 in the last four-and-a-half years [for common area maintenance] and we're not getting what we paid for," he said.
No one from Performa attended this morning's meeting.
The council was expected to get an update on the ongoing litigation during an attorney-client meeting this afternoon. The council was also prepared to take up the matter in full session later today.