Battle between City Council and Graceland continues

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Temperatures are rising again in the fight between Memphis officials and Elvis Presley Enterprises.

The latest battle is over whether the operators of Graceland can move forward with planned development, but city leaders and EPE stakeholders are using fiery language to discuss the disagreement.

"Joel Weinshanker uses intimidation to get people to do what he wants," city attorney Bruce McMullen said. Weinshanker is the managing partner of Elvis Presley Enterprises.

“It’s just part of an ongoing vendetta," Weinshanker said of city officials.

The New York based businessman has already made a lot of improvements at Graceland and wants to do more.

"We're looking at bringing in new retail. We're going to do an addition to the hotel, which provides more jobs," Weinshanker said.

But the development also include a large arena and that's where the city has a problem; the city has a contract with the Memphis Grizzlies that says the city won't provide public tax dollars for any venue that would compete with the FedEx Forum.

"Elvis Presley Enterprises is free to build as large an arena as they want. The issue is whether they can do it with the taxpayer money," McMullen said.

He says they're waiting for a judge to decide whether the city helping Graceland would break their contract with the Grizzlies. But Graceland officials say they've been waiting too long.

"We've been trying to fast track that process that process and city government is trying to do everything they can to keep there from being a ruling," Weinshanker said.

In the meantime, Graceland officials argue that's delaying their other plans for improvements. They say their grounds are currently not zoned to allow the type of developments they want to construct and they need city and county approval for different zoning.

The lawsuit doesn't place a number on damages but we asked Weinshanker about that on Friday. He said all of the delays cost EPE around $50 million.


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