Presleys in the Press

Circle G Ranch 2003-2006

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Circle G Ranch

  • Protest over sale of one-time Elvis ranch dropped
    (WREG-TV, January 11, 2006)
    HORN LAKE, Miss. A protest filed over the sale of Elvis Presley's old Circle G Ranch, where the singer and Priscilla spent their honeymoon in 1967, has been dropped. Plans for a large retail-residential development on the site of the ranch appear ready to move ahead. A hearing in the dispute had been scheduled for today before Chancellor Mitchell Lundy. The protest was withdrawn yesterday. Gerald McLemore, one of the sons of William F. McLemore, who died in 2002, says the fight won't be pursued. McLemore's family owns the ranch that Elvis had once owned. Developer Dale Morrow's sales contract with the McLemore family was approved in November by a judge. He says work can proceed on a development plan. Morrow says he expects to have a preliminary development plan in March for the 155-acre ranch property at Goodman Road and state Highway 301.

  • With Resort Scratched, One-Time Elvis Ranch Sold To Developer
    (NBC 15, October 12, 2005)
    A judge in Hernando, Mississippi, has approved the sale of a ranch where Elvis and Priscilla Presley spent their honeymoon in 1967. The former Circle-G Ranch will be bought by High Pointe Investments for seven (m) million dollars and is scheduled to close before April 15th. The court decision ends a plan by developer J.D. Stacy that called for 35-story condominium towers, two championship golf courses, a performing arts center and a posh golf and entertainment resort on the property and adjacent tracts. Stacy had touted his plan for a high-end resort development for more than two years, but he'd never been able to arrange the financing to purchase the 155-acre ranch or other land. The ruling Tuesday by Chancellor Mitchell Lundy came over the objection of one member of the family that owns the ranch property and allows him and other family members to accept High Pointe's offer.

  • STARS developer promises 'world-class' entertainment
    By Tracy Adams
    (De Soto Times, August 10, 2005)
    The former home of the Elvis Presley ranch will once again be the stomping ground of STARS, or at least that's the plan, officials said. ... The development, officially named STARS Resort: Former Home of the Elvis Presley Ranch, is being touted by developer STARS Inc., as a family-oriented get-a-way that will be on par with Branson, Mo. Branson is promoted as the "The Live Music Show Capital of the World" according to the city's slogan. The southern Missouri town of 7,500 has more than 30 theaters that host approximately 60 shows a year and draws around 7.2 million visitors annually, according to the city's official Web site. The area also features theme parks, several fishing lakes and an abundance of lodging and eating options.

    The proposed STARS development will sit on 794 acres of land located on the east side of Highway 301, south of Goodman Road, north of Nail Road. Elvis and Priscilla Presley honeymooned at the ranch in 1967. It will include two 18-hole golf courses, two hotels, "world-class" entertainment, shops and restaurants, Stacy said. The development, originally estimated at $500,000, has been the subject of some debate for nearly four years. It was granted PUD zoning in 2002 and again in 2004 but both attempts to bring it from concept to reality failed because Stacy and other investors could not gather the necessary funding to make land purchases. The development has once again been given approval but this time for an amendment of the original Planned Unit Development text that will increase the investment cost to an estimated $2 billion.

    Horn Lake Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved an amendment to the PUD text Monday that allowed developers to eliminate several low-rise condominiums for 17, 35-story buildings - 15 time-share condos and 2 hotels. Board members cited the proposed economic impact as the primary reason for voting in favor of the development. ...

  • Condo towers replace cottages gone at resort at Elvis ranch site
    (Sun Herald / Associated Press, August 9, 2005)
    The condo cottages are gone in plans for a multi-billion dollar resort at the site of a ranch once owned by Elvis Presley. The Horn Lake Board of Alderman on Monday approved a plan for 16 towers of 35 stories each to go along with a performing arts center, shops, restaurants and two golf courses. The plan calls for two of the towers to be used as hotels. Assuming financing is secured, the Stars Resort would bring in 2,000 visitors daily in the first two years and 5,000 or more daily after five years, said J.D. Stacy, the spokesman for the development in the works since 2002.

    In 2004, Stacy got zoning approval for a development that covered 803 acres. That fell through when he could not close on the land. On Monday, Stacy said developers have not closed on any of the land this time, either. He said closing without the approval of the plan would have been premature. He said closings should begin this week. The old Circle G Ranch was the former weekend retreat of Presley. He and ex-wife Priscilla honeymooned there in 1967. The developers plan to have the resort completed in 2014. The cost is expected to be $2 billion.

  • State to review sales tax waiver on proposed resort: Developers want to revamp Elvis' former ranch in Horn Lake
    (Clarion Ledger / Associated Press, July 12, 2005)
    The state of Mississippi will review a proposal to waive some taxes on the proposed golf course and entertainment resort at the site of the old Circle G Ranch once owned by Elvis Presley. The ranch was the former weekend retreat of Presley. He and ex-wife Priscilla honeymooned there in 1967. J.D. Stacy, an Atlanta-based developer, and unnamed investors want to turn the former ranch into a resort complete with two golf courses, luxury condominiums and two hotels.

    Horn Lake Mayor Nat Baker has said he has questions about the scope of the project and what the diversion of sales tax income will mean financially for Horn Lake. ... Baker said the only thing that he has seen concerning the proposed project has been a "concept plan. I want to see the architectural studies and more detailed plans," said Baker. Stacy has said CGR's investors have been in negotiations to purchase the 155-acre Circle G Ranch from the McLemore family as well as additional acreage near the property near Goodman Road and Mississippi 301 west of Horn Lake.

    The first step of the process will be to determine if the Circle G Ranch proposal is a qualified project under a state program by which taxes may be diverted from the city to the developer until the 35 percent investment is recouped or a period of 10 years has passed, whichever comes first. The proposal will be reviewed by the Mississippi Development Authority. Horn Lake aldermen approved the proposal on June 21. The application filed by CGR International for the sales tax incentive program was received just under the wire, said State Rep. John Mayo, D-Clarksdale. Mayo said developers may wish to claim that the project's cost will be $2 billion but the state will only let CGR claim up to $200 million. The project will have to be completed and then the state will audit the project's accounting records to determine what part involves tourism and what portion does not, officials said. MDA spokesman Scott Hamilton said the sales tax rebate can be claimed based on "actual investment" only, not projections. "Any project on which we provide subsidies, grants or rebates is subject to an audit," said Hamilton.

  • Horn Lake: More questions than answers with Circle G
    By Christopher Sheffield
    (DeSoto Times, June 24, 2005)
    Two billion dollars and Horn Lake. $2 billion dollars and Horn Lake. $2,000,000,000 and Horn Lake.

    No matter how I write it it's still hard to imagine those two things together. It seems almost incongruous. Just as a point of reference, $2 billion is more than the gross domestic product of the Cayman Islands ($1.391 billion, 2004 estimated) and Samoa ($1 billion, 2002 estimated) and only slightly less than the Republic of Congo ($2.324 billion, 2004 estimated) and the Virgin Islands, $2.5 billion (2002 estimated). Not that I don't hope for all the best to come to Horn Lake economically, but is there really any right-thinking person who believes enough tourists are going to flood Horn Lake, Miss., to justify spending as much on a resort as some countries produce in goods and services? And I don't think having Elvis Presley's name attached to it - now some 28 years since his death - is going to draw people to a still remote place in DeSoto County where Elvis and Priscilla were married nearly 40 years ago. Heck, have you seen the numbers at Graceland? They aren't exactly knocking the doors down to get in there and that's suppose to be the Mecca.

    But even if we put that aside, I can't believe Horn Lake aldermen this week approved a resolution that would set aside certain sales taxes on the property for up to 10 years so that the resort's developers, represented by J.D. Stacy, could recoup up to 35 percent of their capital improvements. At least one alderman, Ken Shackleford, raised some good points. "I have a problem with giving up sales tax for a period of 10 years. I feel it places undue stress on the city and incoming board," Shackleford said. Ultimately, though, Shackleford, who has announced his intentions to resign from the board at the end of his term, sided with two other aldermen and the resolution passed 3-2. Counting Shackleford, four of the five current board members leave office July 4. So why the hurry? The resolution was needed, Stacy said, so that CGR could make an application to the Mississippi Development Authority to seek the incentive and do so by the July 1 deadline.

    City attorney Billy Campbell says the resolution can be rescinded once the new board takes office July 5 if MDA hasn't approved the application. Given the speediness with which the decision was made and the overwhelming number of unanswered questions - including exactly how the economically-strapped city could possible afford to support such a development - rescinding Tuesday's resolution should be high on the new board's agenda. The developers of resort, CGR International, don't even own the land they propose to develop. I would think that actually owning land you propose to develop would be key to getting a tax break.

    Elected leaders are nothing if not charged with being good stewards of their city's money and resources. Giving tax breaks to people and/or companies you don't know, who have no solid plans and don't even own property they propose to develop is a little foolish. No wonder Horn Lake's current slate of elected leaders were shown the door.

  • Circle G Resort project gets tax waiver
    (Sun Herald / Associated Press, June 22, 2005)
    Horn Lake aldermen have agreed to waive some taxes on the proposed golf course and entertainment resort at the site of the old Circle G Ranch once owned by Elvis Presley. The 155-acre ranch, just south of Memphis, is where Elvis and Priscilla spent their honeymoon in 1967. Under Mississippi law, developers of a "major theme park" or similar resort can recoup up to 35 percent of the amount they spend in capital improvements over the first two years of construction.

    The board of aldermen voted 3-2 Tuesday to give up all sales taxes generated by "qualifying" improvements. The Mississippi Development Authority decides what qualifies and it also determines how much of the construction would be recognized as completed within the two-year window. J.D. Stacy, who has been the Circle G Resort's point man, said he did not know what might qualify. "All this does is, it lets us make an application," he said. Alderman J.W. McElhaney said the outgoing board - four of the five members leave office July 4 - was being asked to give its approval when it's still unclear exactly what might be built. "It looks like we're getting the cart before the horse," he said. The board had approved a similar resolution April 19, but Acting City Attorney Billy Campbell Jr. said the revised language was more in accord with language sought by the state. Stacy said time limits set by the MDA made passage Tuesday crucial. "If we don't do it today, it's a dead issue," he said.

    The taxes will be diverted away from the city to the developer until the 35 percent investment is recouped or a period of 10 years has passed, which ever comes first.

  • Horn Lake planners OK zoning for resort at former Elvis ranch
    (Sun Herald / Associated Press, June 15, 2005)
    Horn Lake planners have approved prior zoning for a golf course and entertainment resort at the site of the old Circle G Ranch once owned by Elvis Presley. The 155-acre ranch is where Elvis and Priscilla spent their honeymoon in 1967. J.D. Stacy, the chief spokesman for developers CGR International, said Tuesday he expects his financial backers to close on 794 acres of land within 60 days.

    The plans for the site had been approved as early as 2002. The new planned unit development spells out what Horn Lake expects from the project. The city council will look at the proposal at a June 30 meeting, said Mayor Mike Thomas.

    Stacy has said there will be some changes in the original plan, first offered in February 2002. The two championship golf courses remain, as do the two hotels, the entertainment venues and shops. Stacy said now the luxury condominiums will no longer be built around the periphery of the golf courses, but would be located in high-rise towers. The towers, he has said, could rise as high as 35 stories. The area is outside of the Memphis International Airport main flyway. "We're going to turn this over to master planners," he said. "It'll take $3 million to develop the concept plan and maybe $15 million in engineering costs alone to have everything designed, ready for construction." Such planning, he said, would take months to complete.

    "This is going to be a five star, first class resort," Thomas said. "The time is right to move forward with this development, a development that will have a profound impact on Horn Lake and DeSoto County."

    The board of aldermen last week agreed to send a letter on behalf of Stacy and the project's investors to the Alcohol Beverage Commission seeking qualified resort status for the property. If approved, the action would allow bars to operate on the property 24 hours a day.

    The project will be built in overlapping phases over a five-year period, Stacy said. Horn Lake Mayor-elect Nat Baker said he wanted his administration to have more input on the development, which will be their responsibility once sworn in July 5. "This is something we will have to enforce and keep track of," he said. "I think everyone wants to do what is best for the city, I just would have liked to see the new board get a fresh look at it and put our input on the table."

  • Resort status in works for Circle G Ranch
    By Tracy Adams
    (DeSoto Times, June 9, 2005)
    Horn Lake Board of Mayor and Aldermen agreed Tuesday to support seeking qualified resort status for the old Circle G Ranch, formerly owned by the late Elvis Presley. In hopes of hastening progress of the proposed $600 million golf and entertain resort, board members voted to send a letter on behalf of the developers to the Alcohol Beverage Commission division of the state tax commission. The letter will work as support for the tax commission granting the special status to the development.

    The board also approved a name change for the development to CGR International, Circle G Resorts Home of Elvis Presley Ranch.

    Developers were represented by J. D. Stacy, who has been working for years to make something of the vacant land but failed to secure the financing necessary to purchase the 155-acre property from the McLemore family. Stacy's current plan features two hotels, two golf courses and a theatre. However, Stacy is not the only party expressing interest in purchasing the old Circle G Ranch.

    A Marion, Ark. developer, Jerry Hansard, has announced his intent to negotiate a deal to purchase the property. Hansard's vision for the old Circle G include a music library, medical and residential community, he said in a DeSoto Times story last month.

  • Hernanodo: Plans for Elvis ranch back on
    By Robert Lee Long
    (DeSoto Times, July 21, 2004)
    Horn Lake Mayor Mike Thomas said Tuesday that Georgia developer J.D. Stacy plans to resurrect his dream of building an Elvis-themed development on land once owned by the late singer and 317-acres adjacent to it. "He's been back and the Circle G Ranch is back in its original form," Thomas said. "He was supposed to close on it (land deal) last Thursday but I understand that it did not close for whatever reason. Funding is supposed to be in place. I'm going to take the approach that it could happen, but Išm going to sit back and watch."

    The on-again, off-again land deal involving the singer's former ranch dates back more than two years. Plans then called for construction of two 18-hole golf courses, luxury condominiums adjacent to the golf courses that would sell for between $429,000 and $600,000 each in addition to an Elvis-themed theater, guest houses and a museum. The plan fell through in December 2002 after the development group failed to make payments on its option to purchase the land from the McLemore heirs. Elvis Presley Enterprises officials have repeatedly stated that they own the exclusive right to Presley's image, name and likeness.

    Stacy met with Elvis Presley Enterprises officials in 2002 but no details of the meeting have been released. Meanwhile, owners of the 317-acre tract, said they remained hopeful that the land adjacent to the original ranch can be sold. ... In 2002, Stacy said he planned to capitalize on local legend that Elvis lost his wedding ring somewhere on the grounds and never found it. Presley used to ride horses and motorcycles on the ranch property until he sold the land in the mid-1970s. The original honeymoon cottage and barn are among the only original structures still standing.

  • Horn Lake: tours of Elvis' former ranch must get city OK
    (DeSoto Times, April 22, 2003)
    The future of the former Elvis Presley Ranch on Goodman Road in rural Horn Lake may ultimately depend on Horn Lake City building inspectors, a city official said Monday. Don Wilkinson, executive director of the Horn Lake Chamber of Commerce, said Monday that it's his understanding tours will be conducted of the property, which includes several outbuildings, some of which may be unsafe

    "The barn doesn't look too healthy," Wilkinson said. "The pink building out there is about to fall in," Wilkinson said of a post-Presley building built in the late '70s. "The Horn Lake building inspectors won't allow tours until the buildings are safe." Wilkinson said the honeymoon cottage, now a flower shop, would be on tour. "They say you will be able to walk in the footsteps of Elvis and walk where he walked," Wilkinson said.

    Wilkinson said he was under the impression that Elvis Presley Enterprises in Memphis, operators of Presley's Graceland mansion, was involved. Not so, Jack Soden, CEO of Elvis Presley Enterprises, said Monday. "The fact is that we heard there are plans to be tours, but we are not involved," Soden said. "We never found that much interest."

    Soden said Elvis Presley Enterprises, which owns the exclusive rights to the name, image and likeness of Elvis Presley, doesn't want to give the impression that EPE is involved in the project. He has nothing against tours being conducted as long as there is no trademark infringement. "If they don't use any of our trademarks, then there shouldn't be a problem," Soden said. Soden said he predicted the demise of the former Circle G project due to lack of interest. "What we predicted happened," he said. "Therešs nothing more to say."

  • Circle G official to mayor: Resort project not dead
    (DeSoto Times, February 21, 2003)
    The Circle G Resort project may not be dead after all. Nearly two months after Circle G Resort LLC officials broke off talks with owners of the former Elvis Presley Ranch in Horn Lake, Horn Lake Mayor Mike Thomas said he received a voice message on his answering machine from former NASCAR racing owner and resort project promoter J.D. Stacy. Thomas was out of town last week attending the Mississippi Economic Development Con-ference in Jackson when Stacy called. "He (Stacy) just called to say that he would be up here soon and said the project was not dead," Thomas said. Thomas has not heard from Stacy since or had any communication from any other individuals involved in the project. Stacy could not be reached for comment. Nearly one year after the $500 million project was first announced, the land is still undeveloped farmland, much as it was when Presley owned it from 1967 until 1974.

  • Horn Lake officials left pondering Circle G deal
    (DeSoto Times, January 8, 2003)
    HORN LAKE - Today would have been the 68th birthday of Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll, and pilgrims will come from near and far to Debbie Henson's little flower shop in Horn Lake, formerly Presley's honeymoon cottage. Yet, they won't be paying a king's ransom to tour his 155-acre ranch, at least not anytime soon. A contract agreement between developers of a proposed half-billion-dollar Elvis-themed resort and a local family has been declared "legally over." Horn Lake officials and local tourism folks are still scratching their heads and wonder what went wrong with the proposed resort. On Dec. 31, Gerald "Buddy" McLemore, one of the owners of the 155 acres where Elvis and wife Priscilla once rode horses, said an option agreement with Circle G Resort LLC developers of suburban Atlanta was "legally over" due to missed payments. Circle G Resort officials were said to be paying $1,000 a day for the option to purchase the land for $6.5 million.

  • Elvis ranch, computer project provide two lessons for the future
    (DeSoto Times, January 2, 2003)
    Call it the tale of two projects. They are reminders of how to develop DeSoto County - and what to avoid. One of them, the Elvis Presley "Circle G Ranch" resort, has flamed out less than a year after its ill-conceived beginning. Some local officials hitched their wagons to proposals that sounded too good to be true from outsiders who turned out to have questionable pasts. I am proud that the DeSoto Times did not naively bite into their fruit. Instead, this newspaper investigated and reported that the former NASCAR owner had abandoned his drivers and, about the same time, found sticks of dynamite under his car. Another major player recently paid millions of dollars in Florida to satisfy claims that he had taken investors' money under false pretenses for a development, and he is still under investigation in that state. ... In the future, DeSoto County will succeed more by doing for themselves than looking to outsiders who promise to play Santa Claus.

  • Elvis has left the golf course development
    (, January 2, 2003)
    The owners of a ranch where a $600 million resort dedicated to Elvis Presley was to be located have dissolved the deal after developers missed two payments. The McLemore family, owners of the 155-acre Circle G Ranch, terminated the contract after no payment was made when due the week of Dec. 16, said Gerald McLemore, a spokesman for the family. The developers missed another payment after that, McLemore said. The agreement required the developers ­ a partnership based in Alpharetta, Ga. ­ to make $1,000-a-day payments until they closed with a $6.5 million purchase. "Our agreement was that they were to make the payments every 10 days," McLemore said. "When they failed to make the payments, the contract ended. Nobody is mad at anybody, and we're still talking, but for right now, we don't have a contract on that property."

  • Multimillion-dollar deal with Circle G Resort officials 'legally over,' landowner says: Failure to pay ends year-long process
    (DeSoto Times, January 2, 2003)
    HORN LAKE - The proposed deal to sell Elvis Presley's former Horn Lake ranch in order to build a $600 million Circle G Resort is over - that's the word from landowner Gerald "Buddy" McLemore. The termination of the contract with Circle G Resort LLC officials over their failure to make option payments, caps a year-long series of events which began when developers first met with the W.F. McLemore family in January, 2002. "It's legally over," McLemore said on Tuesday. "The contract is no longer in effect and we are not negotiating a new contract." Circle G Resort LLC officials, including manager Daniel DelPiano, could not be reached for comment. Attempts to reach former NASCAR owner J.D. Stacy and Atlanta businessman Paul D' Agnese, who were also affiliated with the project, were unsuccessful as well.

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