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Councilman Eager to Start Whitehaven Project after Elvis Week

Thousands of Elvis fans are in Memphis to mark the 35th anniversary of the King's death. The candlelight vigil is Wednesday, and people will be lined up along Elvis Presley Boulevard, a street that's seen better days.
MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - The visitors don’t seem to care about the traffic. They don’t really seem to notice all the utility polls and power lines. They’re too busy remembering a man who lived in Whitehaven for twenty years: Elvis Presley. He’d be wondering what’s going on on his boulevard, by the way.

“It’s on time and on schedule,” says Memphis City Council member Harold Collins. “The designers just had their final meeting for residents and the business community.”

Harold Collins lives in Whitehaven, just down the street from Graceland, as a matter of fact. He won’t sing Love Me Tender, and if his pelvis starts moving, it’ll be done in the privacy of his own home and not on stage. But he’s the guy who has pushed harder than anybody for Whitehaven redevelopment.

The five-year plan is his baby, and he says there’s no way work could have begun with all the Elvis fans in town. “We would not do this with the expectation of having nearly sixty to seventy thousand people here this week for the 35th anniversary,” he said. “It would be asinine on our part to even try that. That’s why we focused on getting it done in November.”

Whitehaven is far more than visitors. It is a neighborhood, a business district, a place that needs to survive all year round in order for Memphis to survive. The plan is supposed to make Elvis Presley Boulevard a livelier, livable, even walkable place.

“The first thing they’ll notice is better roads,” Collins says. “They’ll notice curbs and gutters, good drainage, no water standing. They’ll notice fewer utility wires, fewer polls. They’ll notice a lot more green.”

It’s taking a lot of green for this five year project, more than $40 million and Collins says more money might be needed.

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