State OKs Graceland tourism zone; new hotel, entertainment complex coming
NASHVILLE (News Sentinel) -
The state approved Memphis's request for a tourism development zone for the 120-acre Graceland campus Thursday, and construction of a new hotel and entertainment center will start soon, Graceland executives said.
The next and final public step in the process is Memphis City Council approval of a 5 percent tax surcharge on purchases within the zone to help pay for the planned improvements, estimated at about $135 million.
The state Legislature established tourism development zones in 1998, allowing "qualified public use projects" like convention centers and major tourist enterprises to use a portion of sales tax proceeds collected on products and services within the zones to pay for the projects and improvements.
Graceland plans to build a $95 million, 450-room conference hotel on the mansion side of Elvis Presley Boulevard and a $30 million to $40 million entertainment complex on the other side of the street. The city and the state are spending $43 million in various projects to improve Elvis Presley Boulevard between Interstate 55 and the Mississippi state line.