MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The future of the vacant Graves Elementary School building is sparking grave concerns for some Whitehaven residents.
A handful of people took turns protesting for 12 hours Wednesday against plans to build a factory and vocational training center at the site of the former school.
“It’s right in the middle of our neighborhood, and we work hard to keep our properties up, and that would just bring down the property value,” said Carley Anderson, who lives across the street from the site. “I see no benefits to having it right in the middle of the neighborhood.”
The interested company is Made in Memphis, which has been linked to businessman Joel Weinchanker, who runs Elvis Presley Enterprises. Elvis Presley Enterprises didn’t respond to requests for comment, but a letter of intent indicates the proposed factory would make jewelry and memorabilia.
Critics said they’d welcome a vocational training center, but not at the site that’s being proposed.
“The children need part-time work, but it needs to be at an appropriate location,” Yvonne Nelson, who organized the protest, said.
Nelson said she’s worried a factory and training center would bring unwanted traffic to the neighborhood.
“You got manufacturing going on, you got supplies coming in, and you got materials and products going out,” she said. “They’re gonna increase traffic in a residential area.”
But any traffic was a welcome opportunity for protestors Wednesday to make their case to passing drivers.
“We’re gonna keep fighting this. We’re gonna fight it ‘til the end,” Anderson said.