Talks continue on Dumplin Creek project

Lawsuit involving original developer still active
Sep. 26, 2013 @ 11:37 PM

Negotiations over a deal to revive the Dumplin Creek property at Interstate Exit 407 are still going on, but the spokesman for the new buyers said they can’t reveal much more than that.

Earlier this year, Neyland Land Associates announced plans to buy the 200-acre property, which runs alongside Interstate 40. The land was owned by a development team spearheaded by developer John Turley, who also oversaw the successful Turkey Creek project in Knoxville, but Sevier County Bank and several other banks sued that group for $25 million and interest on loans they had provided to Turley.

That appeared to set up a complicated round of negotiations involving multiple players, and Neyland Land Associates spokesman Mike Cohen said that’s proved to be the case.

“It’s very complex and takes a long time. We are still working through it, but it is moving forward.” Cohen said.

The lawsuit is still active in Knox County Chancery Court, where records indicate there have been no filings since January, when Turley was served with a summons.

Turley’s development group, First Commercial Real Estate, did not return calls seeking comment. Sevier County Bank President Matthew Converse also did not return a message about this story.

First Commercial’s plans called for Dumplin Creek to be a retail-entertainment complex, similar to the Turkey Creek project in West Knoxville but on a smaller scale. In preparation for the project, workers had started the process of clearing the ridge southeast of the intersection of Interstate 40 and Highway 66.

The project appeared to lose momentum when First Commercial asked the Sevier Board of Mayor and Aldermen to pay $8 million to build a road that would have served the property. The board balked, saying it hadn’t paid for private roads serving other develoments.

Earlier this year, the board approved a request from Neyland Land Associates to seek two $2 million state grants that could be used to help pay for the road.

Neyland Land Associates is led by father and son Joe Fielden and Joe Fielden Jr.