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VOL. 129 | NO. 149 | Friday, August 1, 2014

Graceland Industrial Development Board Proposed

By Bill Dries

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A proposed Graceland Tourism Development Zone would have its own Industrial Development Board under a proposal the administration of Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. will take Tuesday, Aug. 5, to the Memphis City Council for discussion.

The council is not scheduled to vote on the resolution at Tuesday’s council session.

If the state of Tennessee approves the zone, sales tax revenue within the area as well as revenue from a five percent “tourist surcharge” would be used to finance a Graceland Master Plan covering a 120 acre-campus.

The nine-member Graceland Industrial Development Board to be appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the City Council would have the authority to issue revenue bonds with sales tax and surcharge revenue within the zone paying off the bond debt.

The details posted on the council’s website Thursday, July 31, did not include the boundaries of the proposed tourism development zone.

The tourist surcharge mentioned in the resolution the council will vote on at some point is described as “on goods and services used by visitors to the Graceland TDZ’s qualified public use facility.” That public use facility is the Graceland campus.

Elvis Presley Enterprises has already announced and the council already approved the land use plan for a 450-room hotel and resort north of the Graceland mansion on the same side of Elvis Presley Boulevard where an apartment complex once stood.

The administration’s presentation estimates the hotel would generate $1.8 million to $2.3 million in sales tax revenue a year and between $978,200 and $1.1 million in bed tax revenue annually.

Elvis Presley Enterprises formally breaks ground on the hotel Aug. 14 during Elvis Week activities.

The hotel, which would include a conference center, a theater and two restaurants, would be the third largest hotel in the city of Memphis, is the best known of several phases of development on the Graceland campus – land bought by Elvis Presley Enterprises in the last 20 years in anticipation of an entertainment district around the home of the late Elvis Presley.

The first phase is the Graceland Archives Studio on Elvis Presley Boulevard between the hotel footprint and the mansion. The studio is a 200-seat theater offering visitors a look at archive items that are not on display in the mansion. It is scheduled to open Aug. 9, according to the council presentation.

After the hotel, the next phase of the project moves to the west side of Elvis Presley Boulevard, across the street from the mansion, to the development of 200,000 to 300,000 square feet of attractions including a “discovery center,” interactive technology exhibits and retail businesses as well as restaurants.

The series of other moves by the city connected to the Tourism Development Zone application to the state includes a minority-owned business participation plan in the project and an economic impact plan for the Graceland campus to be undertaken by the Industrial Development Board.

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