BOMA members hear Neyland development plan

Mar. 20, 2013 @ 12:05 PM

Monday night at the Sevierville Civic Center, Dumplin Creek developers Neyland Associates discussed preliminary plans with the Board of Mayor and Alderman for the resurgence of the long-dormant development.

Father-son duo Joe Fielden and Joe Fielden Jr. of Neyland Associates discussed a packet they had previously submitted to the board.

In the packet were tabs referring to site plans, potential economic impact, potential tenants and information on the two Local Interstate Connection (LIC) grants of $2 million each that the Neyland group is proposing.

“We’re coming to you (today) on that portion,” Fielden said. “Neyland will be purchasing the land and will be spending somewhere around $10 million. We’re making a substantial investment into this project, and we’re asking you to help us make a substantial investment.”

The city would have to apply to the Tennessee Department of Transportation for the grants, and then it would have to match them for a total of $4 million.

The grant money would go towards building a connector road that would benefit the development, which is situated along Interstate 40.

The road would connect Bryan Road to Douglas Dam Road, and Douglas Dam Road to Highway 66. A future interchange would be built at Bryan Road (Exit 408), providing a second entrance into Sevierville from I-40.

Fielden did not name tenants with certainty, explaining that the Neyland group wanted to “do things correctly.”

“We want to build something unique and different and exciting that will be a destination shopping area for this region,” Fielden said. “I don’t want a hodgepodge of buildings that have no congruity.”

He did note, however, that the location just off the interstate would be ideal for a big box store like Target or Walmart.

None of the board members asked questions after the presentation, but Mayor Bryan Atchley expressed his enthusiasm with the project resuming.

“Personally, I’m excited that it’s getting back off the ground,” Atchley said. “It’s giving some banking institutions a little relief, and I think if it’s done right it will be a boon to the economies of Sevierville and Sevier County and East Tennessee.”

But Atchley also expressed caution, invoking the dubious history of the project, which fell through when Sevier County Bank sued the project’s last developer for $25 million plus interest for loans the bank had provided.

“Am I wary about spending $4 million? You better believe I am,” Atchley said. “But this is simply a starting point. I think all parties will be doing a lot of due diligence in the next few months.”

He noted that the next step is to apply for the TDOT grants, so the city won’t actually be putting up any money, yet. The board will consider the grant applications at its next meeting.

“We’re going to be seeing where we are, what safeguards can be put in place to protect the city,” Atchley said. “I think working hand-in-hand, this can be a very successful project.

“You get me a target,” Atchley addressed Fielden, “and you and I will be friends forever.”

rhargett@themountainpress.com