Petition Growing to Keep Club Crave Building From Demolition

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(Memphis) - An effort to save the building that houses Club Crave is growing. A petition to save the building already has more than 100 signatures. The petition was started by Erskine Gillespie, a native Memphian who wants to keep the building from getting demolished.

"When nothing was alive on Beale street that was the first building that brought life to Beale," Memphian Erskine Gillespie said.

Gillespie calls 380 Beale Street a piece of history.

"That building was so significant because when they started black exploitation movies out in Hollywood there were only two places we could go to watch them. It was there and the Orpheum Theater."

It was the first black owned movie theater in the state and gillespie wants the curtain to rise again.

He supports the mayor closing 'Club Crave', but suggests instead of tearing the building down why not turn the building back into a theater.

His petition to do that is generating a lot of buzz.

"We are over 100 (signatures) and it's growing," he said.

But he's fighting a different kind of petition from the District Attorney's office.
In their petition, there is a long list of criminal activity that has plagued the building for years. It outlines several shootings, and declares the property a public nuisance.

"When I heard the mayor say that nothing good could ever come from this place it did something to me," Kenneth Whalum said.

So Kenneth Whalum signed Gillespie's petition.

"We tear down public housing, neighborhood schools, Libertyland, and now Crave, and it seems to me that young urban kids hang out at these places.  We have to address the cause why people are shot. Tearing a building down won't do that," Whalum said.

Why these shootings happen is a question both men believe needs to be answered, before the city turns 380 Beale into a pile of dust.

Gillespie said he is meeting with the attorney for the owner of the building Friday, and said that they are already expressing interest in his ideas.

Also Friday, a judge expected to set a court date to decide if the building will be torn down.

You can find Gillespie's petition here