GATLINBURG — The new tenant in the former Christus Gardens property is Gatlinburg SkyLift Park.
On Friday, The Mountain Press reported on the permanent closure of the downtown attraction that opened in 1960 and most recently operated as Christ in the Smokies Museum and Gardens.
The museum’s website contained a message about the closure: “We’re saddened to say our museum has closed due to loss of property lease. Thank you for your support.”
“Gatlinburg SkyLift Park has entered into a longterm lease agreement with the owner of the property on which Christus Gardens/Christ in the Smokies Museum and Gardens operated at 510 River Road in Gatlinburg, Tennessee,” according to a statement from Skylift Park. “The SkyLift Park’s popularity has continued to gain momentum since the May 2019 opening of the SkyBridge, allowing the operation to increase the number of jobs offered in the local community by nearly 200%. That growth has created a rising need for office and storage space, as well as areas for team member parking and general purpose use.”
Located on approximately 8.5 riverfront acres, Christ in the Smokies Museum and Gardens was one of the few downtown Gatlinburg businesses with its own dedicated parking lot.
Sevier County property records identify the owner of the tract as Billy Proffitt.
The acreage and building are adjacent to property occupied by Gatlinburg SkyLift Park, which is operated by Boyne Resorts in Michigan. The original Gatlinburg SkyLift opened in 1954.
The media announcement by Gatlinburg SkyLift Park representatives indicates that “the public parking area previously operated by the museum will soon reopen under Gatlinburg SkyLift Park management.”
The company had one item up for consideration during Thursday night’s Gatlinburg Municipal Planning Commission meeting.
Civil and Environmental Consultants presented a revised planned unit development site plan on behalf of Gatlinburg Skylift Park for a parcel with C-2 zoning located at 541 Campbell Lead Road.
“Our items on last night’s agenda were specific to the westside development — one being a permit for restrooms and the other being a permit for a service road,” said Gatlinburg SkyLift Park spokesperson Julie Ard. “We are pleased that both were granted.”
Thursday’s media announcement noted, “Planning and development of the SkyBridge’s west side is currently in process and there are no definitive plans for further development of the leased property at this time.”
Contents of the museum, which was founded by Ronald Ligon, were sold to Biblical Times Dinner Theater in Pigeon Forge. The collection includes more than 100 pieces of Biblical artifacts, dioramas and art pieces.
The theater’s general manager, Joey Roderick, says the new exhibit will be ticketed separately from the dinner show. He expects to have the exhibit open by this fall.
Contact Juli at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @NeilWatsonJ.