Bullish Sillerman is short on development details. Graceland's corporate owner was in Memphis on Wednesday bearing assurances that he's committed to a massive redevelopment of the area surrounding Elvis Presley's iconic home.
Emerging from a City Hall meeting with City Council, Greater Memphis Chamber and Graceland officials, Robert F.X. Sillerman, chairman and CEO of CKx Inc., had some advice for Memphians:
"They should get out of their chairs and go to Graceland five or six times now and five or six times again during the year so they can say they remember it before we turned it into the spectacular that it is going to be."
Sillerman, whose entertainment company added Graceland to its portfolio in 2004, and his legal team met with council chairman Harold Collins, chamber president John Moore and Elvis Presley Enterprises CEO Jack Soden.
Collins said discussion included the status of plans to improve Elvis Presley Boulevard and importance of a top-quality redevelopment for residents of long-established Whitehaven neighborhoods that border the site. Public improvements and the creation of a tourist-development zone are among incentives that city government has put on the table.
"There was some discussion about timetables, but there was nothing definite except for Mr. Sillerman making a commitment that they were willing to do the development," Collins said.
This is a project that's going to be a massive undertaking. It's important that before it's unveiled, the community gets to share in the presentation of the project," Collins added. "It's important that Mr. Sillerman understands this is a high level of people he's going to be talking to when he unveils his plan."
City engineers have scheduled a meeting to present preliminary information about the road project and get residents' input from 6 to 8 p.m. April 26 at Whitehaven Community Center, 4318 Graceland.
The revamp of Whitehaven's main street will start at the Brooks Road intersection and extend perhaps as far south as Shelby Drive, with state of Tennessee approval necessary since it's also U.S. 51.
Collins said Sillerman didn't give details of the development master plan, which CKX said in its annual report last month was being reconfigured after original designs were discarded.
"He did not talk specifics of what the design would be or what it would look like, and I did not press him on that," Collins said. Chamber officials wouldn't comment, citing confidentiality of pending development matters.
CKX confirmed sale rumors last month after The Wall Street Journal reported that the company might be sold to a private-equity division of JP Morgan Chase. CKX spokesman Ed Tagliaferri said Wednesday that there was nothing new on the potential sale.