April 17, 2014
Ryan Poe Staff writer-Memphis Business Journal
The City of Memphis has approached Hard Rock Cafe International Inc. about opening what would be Beale Street's only hotel.
Kevin Kane, president and CEO of the Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau, confirmed today that the city has proposed a hotel on the same block as the future Hard Rock Cafe, and that the company wasn't "opposed" to the idea.
"But that's a long way from people pulling the trigger on a hotel," he added.
A Hard Rock Hotel – if one does eventually materialize at 126 Beale St. – could have up to about 200 rooms, considering the site's size, Kane said.
Memphis Mayor A C Wharton said he can't confirm or deny whether any talks are underway, but said Hard Rock is "seriously" interested in "enlarging its business involvement in the Downtown Memphis area."
A Hard Rock representative declined to comment. The company has eight hotels in the U.S., with a ninth coming soon to Daytona Beach, Fla. Those hotels – four of which include gaming – range in size from 163 to 1,503 rooms.
“If they could design a hotel adjacent to (the new location), it could make a lot of sense,” local hotel consultant Chuck Pinkowski said. “They’ve been successful in developing hotels in conjunction with their restaurants."
Hal Lansky – registered agent of the site's ownership group, BJHA LLC, and head of clothing retailer group Lansky Bros. – said there aren't any "definite plans."
“If I had a $100 million in my bank account, we could make it happen,” Lansky told me. But, he added, you could make nearly any development happen for that.
Financing is one of the big roadblocks for the idea, Kane said. “Money is the great equalizer on great ideas,” he said.
But if both the cafe and the Memphis Rock 'n' Soul Museum converge on the site's 24,512-square-foot building, as planned, they would make the site unique for a hotel, Wharton said.
“It is going to make that intersection at Second and Beale – and this isn’t hyperbole – one of the hottest intersections in the city,” he said of the convergence.
The site, which sits on less than an acre, is already zoned to allow a hotel, according to the Memphis and Shelby County Office of Planning and Development.
The building on the site was previously leased by Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc. through November 2013 for a now defunct restaurant concept, Elvis Presley's Memphis. Hard Rock Cafe is moving to the building – which is just outside of the Beale Street historic district – from 315 Beale, less than two blocks away.