Cherokee Buy More Property Off Sevier Co. Exit, Considering Possible Resort, Hotels, Convention Space

Courtesy: Jim Matheny | News Source: wbir.com

SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. — The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) continues to expand its portfolio of prime real estate in Sevier County.  EBCI will close Friday on 198 acres on the south side of Interstate 40 at the busy 407 exit in Sevierville.

Ashleigh Stephens with the EBCI Office of the Principal Chief Richard Sneed confirmed the tribe is purchasing the property in Sevierville where construction was never finished on a development called Dumplin Creek.

Now the tribe is buying the property. A final price has not been disclosed. Real estate websites list the property's asking price at $13.5 million.

Stephens confirmed the tribe is considering many options for the property, including a resort, several branded hotels, retail outlets, and a hotel with convention space.

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“This is certainly great news for the City of Sevierville,” said Sevierville Mayor Robbie Fox. “The potential development of this property is exciting and we certainly want to work with the EBCI to make this a positive venture.  We appreciate ECBI’s interest in the City of Sevierville and our area.”

Convention space could be easily transformed into gaming space if Tennessee changes its laws to permit physical sportsbook locations. The state passed a bill in 2019 that allows online betting on sports, but physical casinos are not allowed.

Development of the 198-acre property will be handled by the new Kituwah LLC [Limited Liability Corporation]. EBCI created Kituwah LLC as a separate arm to conduct business for the tribe.

Around 12 million vehicles a year use Exit 407, according to TDOT. It is on one of the primary routes for tourists to reach Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and the Great Smoky Mountains National park.

The tribe now owns valuable property on both sides of I-40 at the busy 407 exit.

In 2019, the tribe bought 122 acres on the north side of the interstate near the Tennessee Smokies baseball stadium for $7.6 million.

Stephens confirmed the tribe is considering housing on the property near the baseball stadium. Options considered include workforce housing, tax credit housing, or a retirement community.  The tribe may develop the property itself or lease the land to another developer.

Plans for the failed Dumplin Creek began in 2007. It was envisioned as the "little sister" of the Turkey Creek shopping area in Farragut.  The downturn in the economy and other factors eventually forced the project to be abandoned and the property was sold.

The EBCI is also expanding its business dealings into Virginia. The tribe recently proposed a casino and resort on the Virginia side of Bristol.

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