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VOL. 133 | NO. 59 | Thursday, March 22, 2018

EPE Expansion Plans Placed on Hold Again

By Patrick Lantrip

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Elvis Presley Enterprises’ expansion plans have been put on hold for the second straight month as the Economic Development Growth Engine for Memphis and Shelby County board continues to sort out what, if any, implications will stem from approving bond financing for the Whitehaven project.

Elvis Presley Enterprises’ latest venue plan, an 80,000-square-foot exhibit and convention space, is on hold while the EDGE board sorts through bond financing implications.


Last month, the project was delayed at the behest of Marty Regan, an attorney who spoke on behalf of the city administration, asking that the EDGE board delay the vote to give the city more time to review the project’s specs.

On Wednesday, March 21, board member Tom Dyer put forth a motion to delay the vote again in order to avoid a possible lawsuit from either EPE or the Memphis Grizzlies, which are currently embroiled in a legal dispute over EPE’s new venue.

“I’ve been told both directly and indirectly by both parties that, today, if we approve this proposal that we will be sued by one of the parties, that one that doesn’t win,” Dyer said. “I’ve also been told that if we don’t approve it we will be sued by the other party.”

The legal issues stem from EPE’s original plan outlined last August that called for a roughly $50 million, 6,000- to 7,000-square-foot theater and event center.

But the idea drew opposition from the Memphis Grizzlies’ ownership group, Memphis Basketball LLC, which said the proposed venue would violate the FedExForum use and operating agreement.

Under the agreement, city and county governments cannot offer financial incentives for an indoor venue with more than 5,000 fixed seats.

EPE eventually withdrew that concept, and submitted new plans to the EDGE board last month for 80,000 square feet of exhibit and convention space with restaurant and entertainment venues, which carries a roughly $22 million price tag, and would create an estimated 40 new permanent jobs along with 100 construction jobs.

“We have two titans here today that are very, very important to the city – The Grizzlies and Elvis Presley Enterprises, both of which are necessary, in my opinion, for the further growth of this community,” Dyer said. “I hope that you guys will figure out some way to work it out short of court, but if you can’t, I understand.”

EPE attorney James McLaren again asked the board to advance the plans at his client’s request.

“We’ve been working on this project for six months, and in that time we’ve had four other delays,” McLaren said. “My client would like to go ahead and get this resolved if at all possible.”

Though he indicated he would vote in favor of EPE’s plans, Dyer nevertheless motioned to delay EPE’s request until a special meeting can be called before next month’s regularly scheduled EDGE meeting to err on the side of caution. 

Also on Wednesday's agenda, Barrett Distribution Centers and Onyx Medical were both awarded tax abatements from EDGE to expand their respective footprints in the area.

Barrett Distribution received an eight-year Jobs PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) that will allow the company to invest $22.1 million into an existing 6100 East Holmes Road facility creating 74 new jobs with an average salary of $44,217 excluding benefits.

According to its application, the Franklin, Massachusetts-based third-party warehouse and distribution center operator would spend $1.2 million on construction and site improvements, $7.4 million on manufacturing machinery and is requesting a $13.4 million Community Reinvestment Credit that would bring the total investment to $22.1 million.

EDGE estimates this project will generate $3.2 million in local tax revenues during the life of the PILOT while saving Barrett an estimated $2.9 million.

Onyx Medical was granted a nine-year Expansion PILOT to grow its 1800 N. Shelby Oaks Drive facility, retaining 116 existing jobs and creating 30 net new ones.

According to its application, Onyx will spend $300,000 to purchase additional land, $4.2 million on construction and site improvements, $2.5 million on manufacturing equipment and is seeking a $3.9 million Community Reinvestment Credit that would bring the total project investment to just under $11 million.

To remain eligible for the PILOT, Onyx must maintain a total of 146 employees with an average salary of $54,939 including overtime pay and bonuses, but excluding benefits.

EDGE staff estimates the expansion to generate $6.4 million in local tax revenues during the term of the PILOT while saving Onyx about $1.4 million.

PROPERTY SALES 61 61 6,453
MORTGAGES 46 46 4,081
BUILDING PERMITS 113 113 15,474
BANKRUPTCIES 19 19 3,289