Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Graceland Project Moves Forward

Posted By on Tue, Aug 5, 2014 at 5:40 PM

Guest House at Graceland
  • Guest House at Graceland

The Memphis City Council gave the nod for Graceland leaders to pursue tax incentives for a new $76 million development project at and around the former home of Elvis Presley.

Graceland leaders will now ask the state to make the 120-acre Graceland campus into a tourism development zone (TDZ). If it’s granted the designation will allow portions of state and local sales taxes collected there to pay for the $75 million hotel, called the Guest House at Graceland, a $1 million theater for Graceland archives, and other developments.

Elvis Presley Enterprises' president and CEO Jack Soden told council members Tuesday that the 128-room Heartbreak Hotel was not well built, will soon be obsolete, and will be demolished. Demand exists “all over the world” for a hotel next to Graceland, he said.

“I know people think their projects are game changers and are transformative and I do, too ,” Soden said. “This project will transforms and elevate Graceland and have a catalytic effect on the entire area.”

Tuesday’s resolution gave council approval of the 120-acre Graceland campus as a TDZ, the overall master plan, and the minority participation plan for the project’s construction. Graceland officials said the city’s contract compliance committee approved a 31 percent minimum of minority-owned business participation in the project’s construction.

Council member Harold Collins represents the Whitehaven community and said residents there are excited about the project.

“They are standing on tip-toe anticipation to see how this project will evolve,” Collins said.

Once the resolution is read into the council’s minutes in two weeks, Graceland officials will formally present their plans to the Tennessee Building Commission for an approval of the TDZ.

Graceland leaders will come back to council later for an approval of a 5-cent tourism surcharge to be collected in the TDZ. That charge will also help pay for the project and be added on top of existing Memphis sales tax rate of 9.25 percent for a total of a 14.25 percent tax on sales at Graceland.

Elvis Presley Enterprises officials said they expected the new development to attract more than 100,000 new visitors to Graceland each year.

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