Sunday, March 13, 2011
Expansion of Graceland is on hold, but that must not dampen the city's efforts to improve the surrounding area.News that plans for a makeover of Graceland have been put on indefinite hold probably have many Whitehaven residents shaking their heads in disappointment.
The $250 million plan announced in 2007 was seen as the catalyst to bring quality retail and eateries back to the Elvis Presley Boulevard corridor. Now a bad capital funds market resulting from the still-recovering economy has led Graceland's landlord, CKx Inc., to announce in its annual report that the makeover, if it ever takes place, is years away.
That's not only a blow to Whitehaven, but also a break in the synergy that city and tourism officials are trying to build between current and future tourist attractions such as a redeveloped fairgrounds, Beale Street Landing, Memphis Zoo, Beale Street, Shelby Farms, Bass Pro Shops and the Pinch, and the Memphis International Raceway near Millington.
Many of the 600,000 people who visit Graceland each year could be expected to extend their stay in Memphis to see some of those other attractions, boosting tourism revenues to local governments and profits for nearby businesses.
CKx's then-chairman, Robert F.X. Sillerman, in 2007 announced plans for a major expansion of Graceland's visitors center and the addition of new shops and attractions, along with a new hotel. But Sillerman left CKx last year during a major restructuring, perhaps taking with him some of the company's enthusiasm for the ambitious project.
And for now, the Elvis Presley Boulevard corridor remains for the most part an eyesore.
That fact reflects badly on Whitehaven because it feeds the perception that the entire area is in a state of decay. The truth is that most of Whitehaven consists of attractive, well-preserved subdivisions, and the area has one of the highest median household incomes in the city.
And frankly, it's embarrassing that a tourist attraction that draws as many visitors a year as Graceland has so few amenities for visitors in the surrounding area. Amenities such as restaurants and retail shops would benefit Whitehaven residents as well as tourists, and would garner increased sales tax revenue for the city.
Memphis city officials have repeatedly emphasized that redeveloping the Elvis Presley corridor remains one of the city's priorities. Mayor A C Wharton is asking for $1.8 million in the next capital improvement budget to prepare for the overhaul of Elvis Presley Boulevard. The project will include widening the boulevard and adding esthetic touches such as a median.
But that's just a start. The corridor is lined with deteriorating businesses, some vacant and others occupied. Any thoughts about removing them would be an expensive proposition for the city from a capital and legal expense standpoint. But the city could set and enforce tougher building codes to force the business owners to take better care of their property.
Elvis Presley Boulevard is Whitehaven's Main Street. Making the necessary changes to reflect that won't be easy and will take time.
But in this case, time is money. Memphis and the state will continue to lose sales tax revenue as long as tourists and Whitehaven residents shop and eat in nearby DeSoto County, instead of in Whitehaven.
Big Love is an American television drama on HBO about a fictional fundamentalist Mormon family in Utah that practices polygamy. Big Love currently stars Bill Paxton, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloë Sevigny, Ginnifer Goodwin, Douglas Smith, Bruce Dern, Grace Zabriskie, Mary Kay Place, Matt Ross, and Cassi Thomson.
Big Love wraps up tonight with it's final eposide after 5 seasons.
Big Love airs on HBO tonight @ 9 PM EST.
On Monday, Priscilla Presley will be a guest on the new afternoon talk show, The Talk. The show which is a talk show similiar to The View features Sharon Osbourne ( Ozzy's wife), Leah Remini ( best known for King of Queens), Julie Chen ( news anchor & wife to Les Moonves, President of CBS), Sara Gilbert ( Sister to Melissa Gilbert, and best known as Darlene on Roseanne), and Holly Robinson Peete ( featured on Celebrity Apprentice, 21 Jump Street & married to NFL quarterback, Rodney Peete). Leah Remini is a fellow Scientologist as is Lisa Marie so I suspect she will be very friendly with Priscilla. Sharon (I hope) will go there and talk about being married to rock stars. But somehow I think this will just be a quick plug for her jewelry line. We shall see Monday!
The show airs live on CBS at 2 PM EST Monday through Friday.
|Elvis' Beverly Hills Home|
Here's how the interior of the home looks today:
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - For about a year, residents in Whitehaven have been looking forward to some major changes in their neighborhood. Changes they thought would bring in more revenue but this week everything changed.
-Graceland pulls out of makeover for neighborhood surrounding Graceland.
-Whitehaven business owners were counting on revitalization.
- CKX, the owner of Elvis Presley Enterprises says the economy is the reason they had to change it's course.
"I think it's unfortunate that they would come up with some excuses. It seems that every time it comes to our communities there's some excuse, rational reason why things can't get done, be done," Reverend Stanford L. Hunt at Beahler Baptist.
The plan would've provided a makeover for the area surrounding Graceland, including a new heartbreak hotel but CKX, the owner of Elvis Presley Enterprises says the economy is the reason they had to change it's course.
"Everybody knows the economy is taking a hit but we still need that money to build up Whitehaven to get things back to rolling," said Whitehaven resident, Colin Rayborn.
Business owners like Hazel Moore, who is known as the mayor of Whitehaven, says she and other business owners were counting on the revitalization to bring more customers to their stores and says the move to cancel plans hurts more than Whitehaven.
"It's gonna be a difference in the money the city will receive for not bringing it," said Moore.
Others say CKX should think of the tourists who bring dollars into the community and walk away with a view of a run down Memphis.
"It ought to be done because all of the tourist that come in here we don't want them to see raggedy buildings, torn streets or empty buildings," said Rev. Hunt.
Memphians say there's no place like the Bluff City when it comes to building successful communities.
"I really think they would really get their money back in terms of the investment they would make and Memphis is always a good place to make a good investment," said Rev. Hunt.
With everything on hold, Moore only has one question.
"What is gonna happen for the future? That's the next answer I want to hear- what the future gonna be, not just where it stopped," said Moore.
St. Louis has a rich musical heritage. The city is home to everyone from Chuck Berry to Nelly to Scott Joplin. But you need to drive south on interstate 55 to find the home of the legendary Elvis Presley. Angie Marchese has come all from Graceland in Memphis to tell us about 3 new exhibits fans will see.
See Original Story:
Elvis On Tour In Louisville