Thank you for this informatiion!
Lakeisha emailed me again today and told me that her source told her that not everything planned is being given out yet by EPE. There could be some "special surprises" in the plans. And it could exceed the $250 million that is being reported of the cost for the project. It could reach as high as $300 million before the final plans are announced. Here's some interesting tibits she told me.
1)Don't count out a theme park just yet as part of the secret plans. Even though Soden says there isn't one. She says they don't want to alarm any fans. The current news has done enough of that as it is.
2)If there is a theme park with rides, it would NOT be on the Graceland grounds due to a contract that Bob Sillerman signed recently with EPE. But a theme park with EP themed rides could be planned for down the road a few years in the Whitehaven area.
3)Graceland MIGHT have to close down tours for a couple weeks to as long as a month. She said her source told her that is not guaranteed yet, but that EPE and Bob Sillerman can't see them having it opened without the current setup until the new VC and museum is complete and ready for business. But if this happens, it will be a year or so away. They are trying to find a way to keep from having to take this rout.
4)According to what her source knows, phase 1 will be the new VC and museum as top priority. Phase 2 will be the convention hotel.
5)Groundbreaking could begin as early as December to early 2008.
6)Another possible attraction could be a small petting zoo. Graceland and EPE has been taking in horses and has been in talks of adding other animals that are abandoned. This could be a major attraction if added. We all know how EP loved animals.
7)An Imax theater isn't in the plans for the new Visitor's Center. BUT one could be added into the opened space reserved by either the current Heartbreak Hotel lot or the current Plaza lot when all is demolished and cleared. The Imax theater would show regular films currently out, with a screen reserved for the special presentations by EPE for EP showings. This would be part of the redevelopment by investors in that area. But if an Imax theater is included, EPE and CKX would have ownership of it and make the profits.
8)There might be a new Elvis Presley's Memphis restaurant and nightclub that would be built either next to the new VC or where the current setup is located. That's undetermined as of now where it will go.
That's all for now. So far Lakeisha has been right on just about everything she's told me about these changes. So obviously her source does know what is going on behind closed doors. She also said that she is hearing new and exciting things about the plans almost daily now.
Thank you for this informatiion!
Thankyou for the information, but what do we really think about some of these changes/additions to Graceland and the surrounding areas in Memphis? I have to be honest about this I don't like many of the new ideas.....Theme Park for one is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard Elvis was about Music not fairground rides and silly gift shops selling tack to line someone elses pocket. I believe we do have to help keep Elvis's memory alive but all of this to me is just plain silly..but that is just my opinion
Yesterday was the past and tomorrow is the future but today is the present ..thats why we call it the gift"
"Never listen to a liar it takes too long to find out the truth and my time is too precious"
"Without you I am only half of me"
Yeah I too am against any amusement park at Graceland or walking distance. I feel that would only give the media something to use against EP as some type of carnival act. I do however like the idea of an amusement park somewhere in Memphis or even Orlando that has an EP theme. Thrills rides named after EP songs such as the "Shake, Rattle, And Roll coaster" or the "Spinout race cars" or the "Way Down thrill ride". This would definitely have potential to be a popular destination for families and kids. And it would keep EP's name relevant.
I really do like the idea of a small petting zoo at Graceland. Nothing mind boggling or eye catching. Just something that would show the estate's interest in adopting and helping abandoned animals from wildlife such as deer, goat, rabbits, horses, and add in ducks, gees, and peacocks around a small lake. EP himself had peacocks running around the grounds when he was alive. It was also the inspiration behind the glass stained windows in Graceland. They would definitely have to add in monkeys too because of Scatter. They could fence off some of the back property and make that into the petting zoo, build a small facility back there for the indoor animals and allow visitors such as kids to walk down there to see the animals. I remember we got to see and pet the horses when I went to Graceland and that was cool because Ebony Delight was still living and I got a picture of her galloping in the field.
I also love that an Imax theater may be part of the redevelopment plans. Although I was hoping for it to be a part of the Graceland expansion at the museum or visitor's center. But just having one there across from the mansion will be just as good. I guess that would be part of the nightlife after touring Graceland and the new attractions all day.
They should also build an indoor amphitheater for live performances. I know originally an outdoor amphitheater was planned. But that hasn't been mentioned as of late. Maybe this is part of the "secret plans". This would be something like a simi Opryland type of attraction, which would bring in 3 times the tourism as what Graceland does now! They are going to have a tremendous amount of extra free space across the street from the mansion once they finish their hotel and even after a possible Imax theater. So an entertainment complex would go great with the redevelopment plans. Also with a price tag of $250 million or as much as $300 million as Lakeisha alluded to, that will mean much more is planned than they are letting out. If an entertainment complex is being planned as part of the redevelopment plans in secret, then it could cost anywhere from $50-70 million alone. Depending how big and elaborate they want to go.
I figure the hotel alone will be around $120 million. I have estimated this using figures on other convention hotels of 500 rooms. Usually the cost rises on those properties due to purchase of land. They normally cost around $130-150 million after purchase of land. However EPE and FXS already owns the land and that saves millions extra. Interesting to note: Most convention hotels are built in downtown areas and not in small communities as is being planned for Graceland. Which makes the changes even more interesting and appealing.
After the hotel cost, that leaves roughly $130 million at least of the proposed $250 million to use towards building the new visitor's center and museum attractions. And here's the thing. I have done a lot of research on the cost of visitor centers and museums at tourist attractions in the US and none of them cost near $130 million. Most are anywhere between $50-100 million. Even with the new hi-tech facilities like Bob Sillerman is planning to build. I expect at least $100-110 million at the most to be spent on the new facility. So then that leaves around $20 million or possibly even more, depending on what else "secretive" to build is being planned.
Overall, the ideas, the planning, and the commitment to upgrade that area, to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on making Graceland the ultimate tourist attraction and bigger and definitely better than ever before is extremely exciting and as a huge fan, overwhelming to see and music to my ears! So like or dislike the plans, this is going to be an amazing transformation to say the least.
So far the plans are as followed:
*a new convention hotel (projected cost-$120 million at most)
*a new visitor's center and museum (projected cost-$110 million at most)
That adds up to $230 million just right there. That at least leaves $20 million extra of the reported projected overall cost of $250 million for the whole project. Now if the overall cost does rise as much as $300 million as Lakeisha said it could, then that would leave $70 million left over to build extra with.
Lakeisha wrote me today to say that her source told her to look for a big announcement in the following months about a residential buyout. She said Bob Sillerman is putting together a financial package to purchase over 80 to 100 homes in around and behind Graceland. Her source told her what Sillerman wants he gets. She said he wants to own all of that land to add for the expansion plans. Sounds as if Soden isn't being honest about some things.
She also said that the long term plans are to close the gates for good and tours would be walking distance from the new visitors center to the mansion and shuttle buses will be extinct. I kinda figured this any way because of the reason to build the new VC on the same side due to traffic. She said the media is right. It's going to be a theme park but without rides (as of now). Think Elvis World.
She's going on vacation next week so she won't be able to let me in on any new developments until she gets back. But she said she would keep me posted on what she hears.
This is OT, but does anyone know when Graceland is completely docorated for Christmas? I was there October 23-24th last year and they were starting to put up the lights at the complex across the street.
I want to go this year as soon as it's fully decorated. Thanks!!
What do you mean? The gates aren't opened now to just walk through. They are only opened to the public when the shuttle buses take fans through them. Now if you mean the candle light vigil that allows fans to walk up the driveway, then I can see that remaining simply for the fact of tradition. But outside of that there would be no reason to have them opened anymore for tourists if the plan is to build the new visitor's center and museum on the same side of street next to the mansion. They would probably open the gates for the celebrity visitor's who come there as they do now. But other than that there wouldn't be any reason to keep them opened to tourists. In fact there would be no way it could work without having to cross the fast dangerous and busy EP Boulevard. I hear that there is a wreck or two almost every day on that street.
I did write Lakeisha an email and I am still waiting on a reply from her, asking her about some things related to the plans. She's been on vacation and apparently hasn't gotten back yet. But I'll post them as soon as she replies to me.
Lakeisha is back from her vacation and she answered my email. She said she spoke with her source yesterday and that he told her that the plans for Graceland are going to blow hers and everyone's mind. According to what she was told, it WILL NOT be an amusement park. BUT it is going to be something in the lines of a 100 acre theme park without the rides. The plans may even be bigger than expected. She did say that her source is almost certain that EPE and FXS wants the city to finance and build a pedestrian bridge that would cross over EP Boulevard. This would be part of the city's involvement financially. He thinks the parking area (or garage) will be where the current RV Park and Heartbreak Hotel sits now, when it is all torn down. Then fans would cross the bridge over EP Boulevard to get to the new visitor's center and attractions. He thinks it'll be like the one at the Daytona raceway and will probably cross where the current Chinese restaurant sits or close to it. I had told Lakeisha about 4 months ago that they needed to have a walk way crossing to make it safer on the visitors. And I guess my theory was correct.
After she told me about this, I did a Google search and looked up some pedestrian bridges like Sillerman is probably going to want. Here's a couple to give you an idea of what she is talking about. The first picture is the one her source must be referring to because it is in Dayona Beach at the track there and is new.
why do they want to mess with a good thing? I don't mind them cleaning up the area around Graceland - but why turn it into a circus? I guess we'll have to wait and see exactly what they have planned....but I like the way it is now....I hope they don't change anything at Graceland - if they do - I wouldn't want to go back. I'm glad I was there in June 2007 - because atleast I got to see the way it is now......thanks for sharing what your friend is telling you.....
I think the way I feel is, I like it as it is now because I like the idea of just going to visit Elvis' home. I don't care for a big theme park, or whatever, I guess for me it's just about visiting the house so I can be in the same space Elvis was, if that makes sense.
I doubt they'll change anything at Graceland itself anymore now that its been
made a National Historical Landmark. The only thing I've heard that they might
do and I find this a little disappointing is that they have considered changing the racquetball court back to a Racquetball court . While its true thats "the way Elvis left it" the way it is now with the gold records all the way around from top to bottom is just spectacular to me and it really drives home how Important he was in the Music World . It is my favorite part of the tour.
Got another email from Lakeisha. I asked her in my last one a question regarding why it has taken so long for Memphis to wake up and realize the importance of EP and Graceland. Here was her response.
"Hi Jay, the reason that Graceland has fallen to the level that it's at today and soo ghetto lookin is basically due to lack of money and respect and appreciation from the city, including leaders and residents. These plans that Sillerman is throwin out there to the city officials to back aint new. I didn't know this, but EPE has been tryin to get support for over 10 years now from city and state officials to expand the grounds to a major tourist attraction.
Lisa and Cilla have been wantin to build a massive museum for a long time now, as you know.
The city didn't think it was a big deal back then and didn't think it was worth financing. But now, they realise that we need Graceland to be big for business in the community and to boost the poor economy. That's why now they're takin an interest. Sillerman's deep pockets is what caught their attention. They weren't interested in spendin money on improvin the area until Sillerman said he'd finance most of the project. He wants the city to back it and put in a nice sum amount so he can do his part.
Do you know that Sillerman's plans are still not well known? All that is known is a hotel, visitor center and museum. But my friend said he's plannin a lot more than he's lettin out to the media because he don't wanna cause a panic from the fans. Whatever that means. But I've been assured that it'll be breathtaking when it's finished. One thing's for certain, it aint gonna be a small project in any way. This is a BIG, BIG project of redevelopment and revitalizing an entire part of town. I can't recall the last time Memphis did something this big. Maybe the Peabody redevelopment. But it didn't take up an entire half a mile either.
As a Memphian, a former Whitehaven resident who has wanted a change for years, and an Elvis fan, this is something I am sooo anxious to see about to become a reality."
It sounds to me that we're in for a big surprise!