VOL. 133 | NO. 63 | Wednesday, March 28, 2018
EPE 'Disappointed' With Memphis' Stance on Arena Proposal
By Patrick Lantrip
Elvis Presley Enterprises plans to build a 5,000- to 6,000-seat arena with no incentives from the city of Memphis, but it’s seeking an increase in the percentage of tax increment financing from the Graceland TIF District for its other expansion plans.
The $50 million arena plan submitted last August sought a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes incentive to help finance it, but it was withdrawn by EPE after the Memphis Grizzlies notified the city that such a deal would violate its contract to operate FedExForum. That contract has a noncompete clause that forbids any public financing help for a performance arena of 5,000 seats or more than might compete with FedExForum for shows and concerts.
EPE settlement proposal fact sheet (PDF)
EPE came back in February with new plans that has no arena, but 80,000 square feet of exhibit space. It asked the Economic Development Growth Engine for Memphis and Shelby County to increase EPE’s share of tax increment financing from 50 percent to 65 percent to help finance the $22 million exhibit space project.
EDGE has twice delayed voting on EPE’s exhibit project.
On Tuesday, March 27, EPE issued a public statement expressing disappointment with the city of Memphis as the ongoing back-and-forth public dispute with the city continues.
EPE’s statement reads in part:
“Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. (EPE) is extremely disappointed that the City of Memphis has not taken its March 23rd settlement proposal seriously (a copy of which follows). Based on recent press reports and quotes from City Attorney Bruce McMullen, EPE believes it necessary to provide clarification on its settlement proposal. We strongly urge the City and the Grizzlies to either join with EPE in its request to have the Chancery Court interpret the FedexForum use and operating agreement and advise all of the parties as to what is permitted under that agreement, or agree to EPE’s settlement proposal.”
If the city were to violate the operational noncompete agreement the Grizzlies have with the city for FedExForum, it could cost the city $90 million.
Though the series of lawsuits, legal interpretations, and amended expansion plans have been circling around the project since it was first announced last summer, the latest litigious chapter began last Friday when EPE filed a lawsuit in Chancery Court against EDGE for delaying a vote on the exhibit project a second time.
With the public statement, EPE attorney James McLaren also released a copy of a March 22 letter outlining its settlement terms to the attorneys for EDGE and the city of Memphis, which included the following provisions:
- The arena construction would be funded without any TDZ, Surcharge or TIF revenues being used to pay for the arena.
- Both Mayors will support, and EDGE will approve, the financing for the 80,000-square-foot exhibition facility.
- Both Mayors will support, and EDGE will approve, the increase in the TIF Increment from 50% to 65% in support of the 80,000-square-foot exhibit facility and future additional, non-arena type development on the Graceland campus.
- Approval by the Mayors of a PILOT and support from the Mayors for State incentives for the 1,000 jobs in Whitehaven with construction of a new manufacturing facility.
- Approval of an amendment to the TDZ application expanding the Graceland Project to include up to 250,000 square feet of new, non-arena development on the Graceland campus. Both Mayors will support any rezoning required for the additional development on the Graceland campus.
- The City and County shall assist in providing adequate electrical power to the Graceland campus.
- Upon all required approvals of the 80,000-square-foot facility, the increase in the TIF and any required PUD (planned unit development) for the additional development, the lawsuits will be dismissed and all parties will agree to not pursue claims against the others.
A request for an interview with McMullen was unreturned by press time. The Grizzlies legal team declined to comment.