|At its height, Pigeon River Crossings, formerly known as Belz Factory Outlet Mall, was among Pigeon Forge's top draws for tourists.|
PIGEON FORGE —A Pigeon Forge landmark has new owners
It was announced Friday that Pigeon River Crossings, formerly known as Belz Factory Outlet Mall, has been sold to an unnamed Tennessee buyer.
Colliers International, an international real estate firm based in Washington state, closed on a sale of the property Oct. 15.
Colliers represented Capmark Financial Group, the bank which had foreclosed on $25-million loan on the 390,248-square-foot shopping center in August 2011.
The property sold this month to the Tennessee-based buyer for $5.15 million, or $13 per square foot.
Calls to representatives of the buyer were not returned by press time.
The site was developed by the Belz family of Memphis in 1989. Located at 2655 Teaster Lane, the shopping center’s current tenants include Nike Factory Outlet, Tuesday Morning, Burke’s Outlet, Burlington Brands, Dress Barn and Old Time Pottery.
"It is a landmark," Pigeon Forge City Manager Earlene Teaster said. "It's been here many, many years."
The mall, which has slipped to 50 percent occupancy during the economic downturn, was at one time a primary draw to Pigeon Forge.
"There was a time that retail shopping was the number-one draw for Pigeon Forge," Teaster said. "As we all know, since the economy has (declined), retail here in Pigeon Forge has gone downhill."
But, with the recent growth in the area around Teaster Lane, the purchasers saw the property as a good investment.
“The new owners saw this as a fantastic opportunity to participate in the continuing growth in Pigeon Forge and draw new tenants to this exciting and vibrant entertainment destination,” said Joe Montgomery, senior vice president of Colliers International’s Atlanta-based Southeast Retail Investment Sales Group.
"We're excited about this," Teaster said. "We have so many of our visitors asking for an indoor mall."
While the city manager said no new stores or improvements to the facility have been confirmed so far, she has a good feeling about the direction of the property.
"Having worked with this group the past few months, I think we'll see some very good stores (coming in), and it's going to be great for our local folks as well as our guests coming here.
"That whole area, Teaster Lane, is rapidly developing," the city manager said.
Earlier this month the nearby $45-million LeConte Center, the city's new convention center and showplace, opened to rave reviews.
That comes on the heels of the opening of The Island, another neighboring development that's sure to bring more tourists and activity to the area.
"I think it's a very smart investment for these folks because of that (increasing development)," Teaster said. "And I think we'll see a lot more development in the area.
"It's the best time (for investment and expansion) it's been in years," she said.