Local 24 Political Analyst & Commentator Otis Sanford gives his point of view on the Graceland expansion and its impact on Whitehaven.
For years, Whitehaven residents have lamented the loss of retail business and other economic drivers in the sprawling community on Memphis’ southern edge. Most big box retailers left long ago. And Whitehaven’s major shopping mall has struggled to keep customers.
But on Whitehaven’s northern edge, business is booming thanks to Elvis Presley Enterprises and its two signature properties; Graceland Mansion and the Guest House.
The enterprise is now planning additional expansion with projects that include a 6,000-seat arena. But legal snags surrounding a non-compete clause that the Grizzlies have to operate FedEx Forum have slowed down Graceland’s plans.
Assuming all legal and financial issues are resolved, which is not a given, we could soon see lots more growth around Graceland, with not just the arena, but a new exhibit hall and a souvenir and crafts factory that could provide up to a thousand jobs.
The massive plans will be explained to Whitehaven residents at a community meeting Thursday night at the Guest House. And it would be good if the place is packed. Whether they support or oppose the expansion, all Whitehaven residents have a tremendous stake in the project.
This could either give the community a much-needed economic boost or create unwanted headaches with traffic congestion and noise in residential areas close to Graceland. Either way, this should be one community meeting that is worth the time and effort.