Elvis Presley Birthplace to get $500K accessibility upgrade

·2 min read

Sep. 22—TUPELO — The Elvis Presley Birthplace will receive a half-million-dollar upgrade to its parking lot in an effort to make the attraction more accessible.

Earlier this week, the Tupelo City Council unanimously approved contracting with Memphis-based architecture firm Haizlip Studio for design and engineering work on a new bus turnaround for the beloved tourist attraction and landmark in music history.

The city will also begin the bidding process on construction for the project, which Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Neal McCoy said will see the attraction's driveway extended with a turnaround big enough to accommodate tour buses at the overlook pavilion on the southeast end of the property.

Once finished, there will be room for two tour buses to park and turn around on the hill.

"If we could have a place for buses to turn around, it makes it easier for visitors," McCoy said.

Roy Turner, executive director of the Elvis Presley Memorial Foundation, said the project has been years in the making. He said the hill on which the bus turnaround will be built is an important part of the rock and roll legend's history. Most visitors of the Birthplace know its story.

"Elvis used to sit on that hill on a milk crate and dream of being a musician," he said. "It is pivotal in Elvis's story."

Turner said the impetus of the project was that many of the birthplace's visitors are older and can't easily climb the steps to the overlook pavilion.

"A great majority of our visitors have waited a long time or saved money a long time to get here, so when they get here, they want to take in the whole facility," Turner said. "They will be able to visit without climbing up the stairs."

The foundation worked with Tupelo city officials to secure $250,000 from state bond money to help fund the project. That'll cover half of the project's estimated price tag of $500,000, McCoy said.

Though the Elvis Presley Memorial Foundation spearheaded the project, the organization has since handed the reins over to the city of Tupelo, which will oversee the bidding process and construction.

With an architectural firm in place, McCoy said the next step is to prepare and proceed with the bidding process. McCoy said, as of Thursday, there is no timeline for the project's completion.

caleb.mccluskey@djournal.com