Island opens in Pigeon Forge

The Great Smoky Mountain Wheel (Source: Kyle Grainger, WVLT)

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn., (WVLT) -- The new Island at Pigeon Forge opened with a grand opening for VIP guests before opening to the public on Friday morning.

The Island is a $100 M project in Pigeon Forge that features 180-thousand square feet of retail space and a 200ft observation wheel.

Owners of the Island say it's taken years of planning and hard work to make the development because a reality.

"We're blessed that it's been such a collaboration of hard work, so many people and this was a failed project years ago and we took up the cause and decided to make the investment in the community," said Bob McManus, Owner.

McManus and other investors took over the Island after it went into bankruptcy. He says the original developers had spend nearly $85M on the property and his team will have spent that much by the time phase 2 opens next year.

"We will have nearly that much in it again by the time we're done with phase 2, the 2.5 million dollar fountain, a 4 star hotel," he said.

The development is project to create thousands of jobs and generate nearly $80 M in new revenue for Pigeon Forge. The city's mayor says he looks forward to the development creating much more for the town as a new attraction for visitors.

"With the wheel and the lights from the wheel and people being able to see that from the parkway it's going to draw people back here. it's going to draw people back here to enjoy this atmosphere and to have a good time," said David Wear, Pigeon Forge Mayor. "We have felt the economy. We know there's people out there hurting. So it is so exciting to see Pigeon Forge grow and continue to grow. But also to offer new things for the visitors and put people back to work and we're excited about that."

The Island opened to the public on Friday at 10 a.m.

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