Sevier County development bringing popular stores, hundreds of jobs

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SEVIERVILLE (WATE) – A new development in Sevier County is bringing with it hundreds of jobs.

A shopping center with some big name stores is about to be built on Highway 66 in Sevierville at the site of the old Reel Theaters movie theater.

It used to be the site of Sevier County’s only movie theater, but two years ago, Reel Theaters shut down and has been sitting empty ever since.

Now it is just a pile of rubble that Tony Lentine from Kodak was surprised to see. His grandson used to work at the theater.

“He hasn’t seen this yet. When I break the news to him, I don’t know what he’s going to do,” said Lentine.

Developers have big plans for the lot.

“We have about 11 retailers coming to this site. It’s about a $25 million project. Once complete, it should generate about $35 million in gross annual sales,” said a development partner Ken Maples.

While developers cannot verbally say which stores have already agreed to locate there, a sign by the road pretty much says it for them. It lists Hobby Lobby, Ulta and Dicks Sporting Goods opening fall of this year, and next year more big names like Petsmart will also be opening.

“They need more for this town. There’s a lot of people coming,” said Lentine.

The stores will offer more than 300 full and part time jobs and anticipate bringing in about $3 million in sales tax revenue.

“We constantly look for ways to provide jobs for the folks and really try to grow our jobs year round because you know quite a few of our jobs are part time or they’re seasonal,” said Maples.

In a place known for its outlet stores, the goal is to broaden the scope for those living in Sevier County.

“These dollars that were previously leaving Sevier County, the jobs, the dollars, the tax dollars will now stay here,” said Maples.

Lentine says it may be bittersweet for his grandson, but he is happy to see the progress.

“I’ll enjoy them, but my wife is really the one. You know, I said ‘get your credit card ready!'” he said.

The first phase of the project is expected to be completed this fall.

The whole thing should be done by winter 2016.

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