The owner of Elvis Presley Enterprises said Wednesday it is scaling back plans to redevelop the Graceland attraction due to a difficult economic climate. CKx Inc. said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that expanding the visitors center and adding new attractions, shops, and a new hotel adjacent to Elvis' former home would take several years and substantial financial investment.
The filing also said expenses for operating the Memphis tourist attraction rose last year due to higher professional and legal fees that were primarily related to a 2010 master plan that has been postponed.
The company is exploring opportunities to build a new Heartbreak Hotel with a business partner, CKx CEO Michael G. Ferrel told The Associated Press. But the other previously studied parts of the redevelopment would happen only in "incremental steps," depending on the economy, he said.
"We ran straight into a headwind for what this project was supposed to be," Ferrel said. "It's going to be done on a different timetable than we first anticipated for reasons beyond our control."
CKx has been studying ways to redevelop Graceland and the surrounding area for years, with the possibility of breaking ground in 2011 or 2012. Ferrel told AP in August that tough economic conditions over the past two years, including a dearth of financing for construction and a drop in consumer spending, had delayed the study looking at improvements.
Elvis lived at Graceland for 20 years before he died in August 1977. The home has been open for public tours since 1982. Jack Soden, president CEO of Elvis Presley Enterprises, said the visitors complex development is on a slower track, but the company is still committed to investing in the long-term growth of Graceland.
"It's designing and developing with a sharper pencil, and that's the new economy," Soden said. Last year, 518,940 people visited Graceland, a 4.4 percent drop from 542,728 in 2009.