August 14, 2014 at 10:01 PM CDT - Updated July 27 at 6:35 AM
(WMC) - Whitehaven is getting a makeover. It is something the King of Rock and Roll wanted to see happen decades ago.
Ground was broken Thursday on a full service, 450-room hotel with a pool, restaurant, stage, and gathering space. The Guest House at Graceland will be located on a property Elvis always wanted to develop.
"Elvis had plans for Graceland," his wife, Priscilla said to a crowd of fans, business leaders, and project developers. "He had plans for the property. He wanted to do so much with it."
Whitehaven residents like Hazel Moore remember what it was like when Elvis called Graceland home.
"One time he had a flat, and my to-be son in law fixed his flat," she said. "And so we all remember those moments."
Moore says the development only welcomes more businesses to Whitehaven and sends a message to Memphians that the community is growing and deterring crime.
"A lot of businesses are coming together saying, 'Together we can work and make change and make a difference and make sure this will not happen in Whitehaven,'" she said.
In the meantime, Memphis City Councilman Harold Collins, who represents Whitehaven, says the hotel and addition to the Graceland experience only helps the push to make Whitehaven a destination.
But, it's only the beginning.
"Let's not forget that the state of Tennessee partnered with the City of Memphis to invest $43 million in new road construction and improvement," Collins added.
They are all good signs for residents like Moore, who has spent her entire life making Whitehaven home.
"This has been a long time coming," she said. "I've looked forward to this for many years and it's a dream coming true."
The $70 million hotel will bring almost 100 jobs to the Whitehaven area. It could also increase property values and attract new businesses. It is expected to open by August 2015.