Decades after the death of Elvis Presley, all indications show that America’s greatest music legend’s legacy is becoming even stronger. The release of another commemorative stamp, new albums, international recognition and new generations of Presley fans are key indicators, but the biggest hint comes from what is happening in Memphis, Tennessee.
While Jack Soden, the President and CEO of Elvis Presley Enterprises promises Graceland will not change, he opened up the Elvis Car Museum last night for residents of the Whitehaven community to learn about the proposed plans to enhance the neighborhood.
“Here is really, basically the reason people come here from 170 countries a year, from every corner of the earth,” Soden said, motioning to the direction of the Graceland mansion. “That’s never going to change. That’s the heart and soul of this whole thing.”
A preview of the revitalization of the west side of Elvis Presley Blvd. was especially well received by those in attendance. New plans, as presented in blue prints and diagrams presented by Soden, include “state-of-the-art” facilities comprised of two restaurants, a soundstage, retail shops, and more parking.
“I am excited about the two new museums,” said Mark Griffen. “One will be a modern Elvis car museum and the other will be about Elvis, the Entertainer. Updating this region is long overdue and it all begins with the Graceland area.”
“This is our opportunity to take what we have welcomed and served 19 million visitors with and do something better,” CEO Jack Soden stated, also indicating Elvis’s jumpsuits, gold records, guitars and other memorabilia would be prominently displayed in the “Elvis the Entertainer” museum.
Elvis Presley Enterprises built an archives building that opened in 2015 and expect the new 450-room resort hotel Guest House at Graceland to hold a grand opening on Oct. 27, 2016. On that date the Heartbreak Hotel will be officially closed to make room for needed tourism parking near the intersection of Elvis Presley Blvd. and Craft street.
On October 8th, a Memphis-Shelby County Office of Planning and Development board will review the renewal plans that were submitted to the Memphis office of Planning and Development to determine if the proposal will be sent to the city council for a vote of approval. The August 28, 2015 application notes the $35 million proposal represents 200,000 square feet of new facilities on 46 acres to be deemed “Graceland West.”
Graceland sits on the original 13.8 acre estate Presley purchased in 1957 for a sum of $100,000. Soden, Priscilla Presley, and Elvis’ Aunt Briggs cut the ribbon for opening the home to the public as a museum on June 7, 1982. On Nov. 7, 1991, Graceland was listed in the National Register of Historic Places and declared a National Historic Landmark on March 27, 2006.
“It will be nice to see the property directly across from Graceland become beautiful trees and grass again,” Griffen observed. “The new complex will be modern with nice landscaping and streamlined for Elvis fans who visit. This is major.”