Graceland may move forward on development without arena

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The owner of Graceland wants to stop fighting with the city, and presented plans for a Whitehaven development Tuesday while trying to extend an olive branch to city leaders.

Graceland has been in a war of words all year with the mayor’s office over Graceland operators’ plan to build an arena that would compete with the FedExForum.

They want to use tax incentives from the city to do it. The problem is, the city has an exclusive contract with the Grizzlies, so tax dollars can't be used that would build a competing arena. It's currently stuck in court.

Elvis Presley Enterprises operator Joel Weinshanker says he wants to stop fighting with city leaders over tax incentives for a planned arena and move forward with other positive developments in Whitehaven.

"We're looking to do all the things that’s great for everyone in Memphis to do and get city government to say, without the arena on the side, there is no issue.”

Earlier this year, Weinshanker presented plans to build an exhibition center, performance venue and even a factory to employ more than 1,000 people.

“300,000 additional hotel nights were put into Memphis in 2018 because of the (Guesthouse) hotel and the (tourism development zone), so we’re just trying to expand on that — more jobs, more tourism, more tax dollars,” Weinshanker said.

Memphis Chief Operating Officer Doug McGowan says the mayor supports these other efforts.

All Graceland has to do, he said, is file a new request for tax incentives without the arena included.

Weinshanker gave everyone a timeline of about 30 days.

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