Grand Hotel site in Pigeon Forge changes hands – again

May. 02, 2014 @ 11:03 PM

The former Grand Hotel has changed hands again, and the new owners say they will demolish the old convention center and double the size of the rooms.

Chartwell Hospitality, a Franklin, Tenn.-based hotel management company, purchased the property for about $6.7 million, according to information filed with the Sevier County Register of Deeds office.

Will Schaedle, manager of acquisitions and development for Chartwell, confirmed the purchase. He said the company plans to renovate the hotel building, tear down the convention center and build a new lodge that will include the check-in area, fitness center, restaurant and meeting area.

“We’re planning a full rehabilitation on the hotel,” Schaedle said “The building itself is structurally sound."

The previous owner, Kiwishe-Stoller LLC, bought the property in foreclosure proceedings last year. The company announced plans to renovate both building, and work started on that project last year before suddenly shutting down and never resuming.

A spokesperson for Kiwishe-Stoller declined to comment for this story Thursday. The company obtained a demolition permit from the city and gutted much of the building. Previously, the spokesperson had said the company wa waiting to get a construction permit so it could move ahead with the project.

Kiwishe-Stoller bought the property for about $6.9 million in 2013.

Schaedle said Chartwell is aware the property has become an eyesore and plans to make it a valuable part of the community again.

The company seeks to convert the 410 rooms of the old Grand Hotel into 205 suites with balconies, he said. The pool will be moved to the area between the hotel and the new lodge.

Schaedle said he couldn’t offer more details on the plans Thursday.

The Grand was one of the area’s oldest and largest hotels. It was the base for the biannual Grand Rod Run, which has now been renamed the Pigeon Forge Rod Run and moved to the new LeConte Center at Pigeon Forge.

It was one of the first convention centers to host Christian youth conferences, which have become a staple of the area’s tourism industry.

In later years, the Grand Hotel became notorious. In 2011, it was listed as the dirtiest hotel in America by the travel website TripAdvisor. Owner Ken Seaton sued the website for defamation of his business, but a judge dismissed his complaint, saying a reasonable person could understand the ranking was base on a survey of TripAdvisor users.

jfarrell@themountainpress.com