|MOVING ELVIS: GRACELAND TO SHIFT MEMORABILIA ACROSS STREET
October 03, 2015 - Commercial Appeal / Elvis Express Radio
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Graceland's story of Elvis is about to explode in size.
The world-famous mansion in Whitehaven comprises 17,000 square feet, including the Trophy Room and racquetball building where so many of Elvis's gold records, stage
costumes, guitars, awards and other memorabilia are displayed.
(See the plan for the expansion here)
Sometime in the next few years, moving trucks will gingerly carry many of the mementoes down the hill and across Elvis Presley Boulevard to be showcased in a new, 22,002-
square-foot Elvis "career museum.''
But the career musuem will be only one anchor of an L-shaped, $30 million to $35 million entertainment complex that will offer another 104,000 square feet of exhibit and
The site plan shows six smaller "discovery'' areas sandwiched between three anchor spaces: flexible exhibit space, career museum and car museum.
The linear footprint of the rooms should allow Graceland to tell Elvis's story in a more flowing way than it can in a big box like the racquetball building.
Elvis Presley Enterprises is not ready to say what the flexible space and discovery" rooms will show tourists.
In fact, the company that runs the 120-acre tourist complex may not have revealed anything about its plans for a new entertainment complex if it were not required to file planning
documents with local government and hold an information meeting for neighbors affected by the redevelopment.
The chief executive officer of Elvis Presley Enterprises hosted the neighborhood meeting last week in the existing Elvis car museum. Here's some of what Jack Soden told residents:
"We're going to move an awful lot of what’s presented in the trophy building and the racquetball building on the Graceland tour, which, if you think about it, we just kinda shoe-
horned the entire story of Elvis-the-entertainer into what was a rec room and a racquetball court.
"We’re going to do all of that justice — the gold records, the jumpsuits, the guitars, the awards — all the things related to his amazing, iconic career.
"Those are going to become an anchor over here,'' Soden said, referring to complex across the street from the mansion. "So now we’ll have how Elvis and where Elvis lived, how
Elvis and why Elvis is the greatest entertainer ever.''
In all, there will be as much as 126,605 square feet of exhibit space and the new complex designed by Hnedak Bobo Group will include seven retail spaces totaling 30,047 square
feet, at least two restaurants totaling 15,016 square feet, and an orientation/ticket building of 12,428 square feet.
Including the new warehouses in the back, the new construction will total more than 200,000 square feet.
The existing strand of souvenir shops and exhibit and souvenir spaces -- fashioned out of an old strip shopping center or two -- will be demolished to make room.
The front of the new complex will be set back 150 yards from Elvis Presley Boulevard, fronted by landscaping and a winding drive for the shuttle buses that take visitors to the
The entertainment complex is the next phase of a masterplan. Construction already has begun on The Guest House at Graceland, a 450-room resort hotel rising just north of the
Moving so much of the memorabilia out of the mansion raises some questions: What will become of the newly cleared spaces in the trophy and racquetball buildings?
Will Elvis Presley Enterprises seek to restore those rooms to appear exactly as they were when Elvis was alive?
Will visitors have to pay more to see both the mansion and the memorabilia?
Either the company hasn't decided yet or, like a great showman, will reveal the answers at a more advantageous time.