By Ciara Walker Williams
NASHVILLE, TN (TSU News Service) — Did you ever read a book as a child and wonder what it would be like as a character in the story? Thanks to Real Estate Developer DeLisa Guerrier you’ll have an opportunity to find out when Storyville Gardens, a 130-acre theme park resort, opens in 2025.
“Words Create Worlds” is the tagline and that’s exactly what visitors will experience as soon as they enter Storyville Gardens. The magical journey begins in an area representing Africa that leads to a castle-like structure called the Storyteller’s Lodge. Once inside, visitors choose their next destination by walking through one of three portals where they can experience rides and interactive attractions based on storybooks from Europe, America, and Asia.
“There will be something for all ages from dark rides to family coasters to log flume rides to splash pads,” says Guerrier while adding that it’s more than a theme park. “Once you come out of the park there will be retail, dining with food from the four corners of the world, and live entertainment.”
Guerrier and her husband Elde own Guerrier Development, a real estate and investment firm in Nashville. The two partnered with Storyland Studios, creators of Hogwarts Express at Universal Studios Florida, to bring her Guerrier’s dream about the theme park to life.
Guerrier, a mother of three, says she was inspired to create Storyville Gardens due to the lack of family-centered entertainment and the literacy crisis in Nashville. Her goal of Ella with Storyville Gardens is to inspire children to get excited about reading outside of what’s required for school through interactive entertainment.
In addition to the park, shopping, eating, and dancing; there will be three hotels with themes ranging from majestic and enchanting to discovery and adventure. Still, that’s not where the story ends.
“Storyville Gardens National Literacy Center is our non-profit arm that will offer initiatives and resources to help children and young adults with reading, writing, and financial literacy,” says Guerrier. “The literacy center will be located in an urban area where those in need can access it.”
Guerrier prides herself on being thoughtful about the people, the package, and the purpose for this project – likening it to TSU’s motto: Think. Work. Serve.
“We put a lot of work and sacrifice into growing our companies, and that’s something many people don’t see,” says Guerrier. “I put a team together for this project, and I provided a package so the people can get a view of the project. The purpose aligns with serve because it’s not about self or money, but about how this will impact children, neighborhoods, and families.”
Thinking back, Guerrier says TSU chose her. After moving from California to attend Fisk University, she found herself transferring to TSU and graduating with a BA in Psychology in 2012. She planned to attend Medical School, but the summer before graduation she met her husband who owned his own business and began working with him.
“When we first started [with real estate], we thought we’d own a few rental properties and retire,” says Guerrier with a laugh. “We grew with the market and when opportunities came up, we couldn’t say no. God knew I was mature enough to ask questions and crazy enough to go for it.”
She encourages students to dream big also. “It’s important for students to know, whatever it is they’ve thought about doing, they can do it bigger,” she says. “If there’s an impact you want to make – triple it. Sometimes we set out looking for opportunities, but you’ll see opportunities all around you if you just go for it. Don’t be afraid to take the road less traveled.”
Taking the road less traveled has led to Guerrier receiving several prestigious awards. This includes induction into the 2021 Enterprising Women Hall of Fame and the Nashville Entrepreneur Center’s 2021 NEXT Awards and Entrepreneurs’ Hall of Fame. In addition to these recognitions, she is an active member of Nashville’s Women President’s Organization, advisory council member of the Women Business Collaborative, and founding member of The Bow Collective just to name a few.
The location for Storyville Gardens has yet to be announced, but Guerrier confirms construction will begin later this year. Until then, she encourages everyone to get updates on the upcoming project at www.storyvillegardens.com.