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"The Island at Pigeon Forge" set to open in Spring 2013

8:16 PM, Nov 21, 2011   |    comments
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A troubled piece of Sevier County property is in new hands, and those developers have big plans for the future.

Darby Campbell and Bob McManus, partners in LeConte Village LLC., purchased the former Belle Island property from Regions Bank for $10 million dollars Monday afternoon.  The pair paid cash.

"We think a new venue of this type, with the price we're paying, is the right thing for the area," said Campbell.

The two have been laying the groundwork for this development for several months now.

Belle Island was supposed to be a large shopping and entertainment district in Pigeon Forge.  It's original developers filed for bankruptcy.

Photo Gallery: Photos of Belle Island site

Campbell and McManus say they will open "The Island at Pigeon Forge" in Spring 2013.  They are trying to attract entertainment businesses now, then will focus on retail businesses.  They say they've spoken to several tenants who are interested in the property.

"We are working with several large tenants that come with, if combined, $75 to $80 million worth of additional investment," Campbell said.

One proposed highlight of the new development would be a 200-foot skywheel with heated, cooled cars.

That $10 million price tag was a deal, say the developers, in part because the original investors had already put $80 million dollars into the property.

"Fresh ideas and developments like that keeps us relevant as a tourism destination," said Pigeon Forge Mayor David Wear.

Wear estimates anywhere from 400 to 500 employees will be hired to work on the island once the construction is complete.

The developers plan to tear down the building that was to house the Debbie Reynolds museum because it is in the way of a road they need to build. That building, and it's certerpiece boat structure, originally cost $13 million to build.  The actress had to auction off much of her memorabilia when plans for the museum and development fell through.

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