SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians plans to develop a 200-acre mixed-use “experiential destination” in Sevierville, the group announced Tuesday.

The 200-acre mixed-use development will be built on land purchased by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in January for $13.5 million. OE Experiences, a Knoxville-based firm, has been retained to identify the highest and best use of the development and to seek out development partners, according to a release. 

The $13.5 million property belongs to Kituwah LLC, a company created by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to own non-gaming businesses, which means this new development won’t have a casino.

The land is located between the major metropolitan areas of Knoxville, Tenn. and Asheville, NC just off Interstate 40 at the Sevierville exit.

A property map of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians 200-acre mix-use development site
Source: Rick Laney Marketing

Chrissy Arch, Chair of the Kituwah Economic Development Board said, “We are moving quickly in plan development and key tenant acquisition.” 

“Our tribe established Kituwah, LLC to move at the pace of business and to diversify our economic interests in areas other than gaming,” said Principal Chief Richard Sneed.  “We are pleased with the strong interest in the property and look forward to strengthening partnerships with Sevier County.” 

OE Experiences is currently collecting bids and proposals from interested parties to codevelop portions of the site. 

While the vision for the development remains undetermined, a release from from OE Experiences said tourists and shoppers will have dining options, unique shopping experiences and entertainment attractions that fit the overall theme and vision. 

Matthew Cross, of OE Experience explained, “This will be a major investment by the EBCI into our local community.  It is a unique opportunity for the tribe to form strategic partnerships in one of the best tourism markets in the country.  Millions of tourists drive by this location every year on their way to the national park, and they will stop here first.”

“So next week, we’re bringing in together civil engineers, architects, master planners, creative professionals all to the table at the same time to identify different versions of what this property’s future can be,” Cross said.

Cross says the community and the government will be able to offer their input on those ideas along the way. He said the group remains cautiously optimistic for the development amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are keeping our expectations managed about the future. It is too early to know how exactly the virus will affect us long-term. However, we are seeing that most people feel safer in their car than on an airplane.  That is great news for this market, as we are one of the most drivable destinations in the country with most of the nation’s population east of the Mississippi River living within a one-day-drive of the Smoky Mountains.”

Matthew Cross, OE Experiences