Memphis City Council members will attend three more meetings together before most of them leave office at the end of the year. As their terms draw to a close, an agenda set by council chairman Tom Marshall back in September is shaping much of the last-minute business the council is pursuing.
It's also creating a to-do list that will require action after the New Year. Marshall originally had drawn up an 11-point action plan to guide the current council's final days. One of those 11 tasks had called for the council quickly scheduling a vote to approve a rezoning request needed as part of the large-scale redevelopment of Graceland, the famous home of Elvis Presley, along with the neighborhood around it. That item has been punted down the road for the new council to address.
"The Graceland rezoning application just couldn't make it, because it came down to a matter of timing," Marshall said, referring to the fact that council ordinances must be voted on three times. "They simply couldn't make application in time in order for this council to go through three readings. "So instead of jeopardizing that huge financial initiative with two readings before one council and then another reading before a new council, they've elected to start their initial presentation to the new council," he said, "which I actually recommended to them to do."
As far as what that presentation will consist of or the details surrounding the need for that rezoning, Marshall isn't saying. Whatever they are, Elvis Presley Enterprises - the corporation that officially conducts and manages Elvis-related business - apparently intends to make a big announcement about the effort soon.
"I can't tell you specifically what they'll be doing," Marshall said. "But I can tell you in very large and general terms that they are going to be pursuing a tremendous, unprecedented financial infusion to the current Graceland site. And they're going to be requiring council action to make it a reality. That action will include zoning and other potential community enhancement initiatives."
The most recent annual report of CKX Inc., which acquired an 85 percent ownership stake in EPE in February 2005, hints at what those efforts entail. Company officials already have held several meetings with local government officials in Memphis about revamping Graceland.
That redevelopment effort includes "building an expanded visitors center, developing new attractions and merchandising shops and building a boutique convention hotel," CKX management writes in the annual report. "This project is conditioned on a number of factors including obtaining necessary approvals and concessions from local and state authorities and attracting an appropriate hotel partner."