EDGE gives approval for Graceland hotel

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- A new 450 room hotel and convention center came one step closer to opening at Elvis Presley's Graceland on Wednesday.

The Economic Development Board approved $84 million in financing to fund the development.

Graceland, the third most visited home in the U.S. behind the Whitehouse and Biltmore, said upgrading the experience for visitors with a new more modern hotel would generate jobs and boost the economy of Whitehaven.

"We are really excited to get going on this project. Piece by piece it's taken a lot of organization and ecetera," said Jack Soden, Elvis Presley Enterprises.

EDGE, the Economic Development Growth Engine, said it approved issuing Graceland $84 million in bonds to help pay for a new hotel.

Financing would also come from a tourist development zone set up by city and county and from a tourist surcharge.

"The money really comes from a private financial institution which will buy those bonds and therefore inject the money into the project," said Reid Dulberger, EDGE Pres/CEO.

Even if the project failed the lawyer for Elvis Presley Enterprises told EDGE, taxpayers won't be responsible for repaying bonds.

"There's not going to be a check written by the city or county to pay the debt so it is merely being paid from incentive revenues, from the revenues created by the hotel:13 and from Guarantees of the owners of the hotel," said Attorney James McLaren, Elvis Presley Enterprises.

With its 450 rooms, 500 seat theater and two restaurants, the Graceland hotel will be the third largest in the city behind the Peabody and Convention Center Sheraton.

In addition, 500 jobs were promised in and around the hotel.

"It's going to be exactly where we want it in Whitehaven at Graceland where our visitors from all over the world will come and stay longer and spend more of their money and time in Whitehaven," said Soden.

One of the questions board members asked is how much will these jobs pay and who would get them.

A representative for EP Enterprises said the average salary would be about $11 an hour and most of its employees traditionally come from the Whitehaven neighborhood.

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