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Archive for the ‘Development’ Category

Keeping their options open: Arrowmont still seeks to buy land or relocate

Arrowmont’s lease with Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women expires in August 2011, and the fraternity “is not willing to extend the lease at this time,” Arrowmont Executive Director David Willard says on the school’s Web site.

“We understand that it is still their intention to sell the land at some point in the future,” Willard says in a Web site update on the land situation. “The fraternity has title to the land and it appears that Arrowmont does not have anything other than our lease to secure our position on the property. With this in mind, we are moving forward on several fronts.”
The Mountain Press broke the story in August that persons both locally and out of Sevier County were negotiating with Pi Beta Phi to buy the property and more surrounding it. They planned a $500 million development that would include a water park, four hotels, four shopping plazas and more. They were working through David Perella, the city’s tourism director. That deal fell apart and the fraternity withdrew from negotiations to sell the land.

“Due to the economic crisis, we were not surprised the development has not proceeded as planned,” Pi Beta Phi Grand President Emily Tarr said at the time. “We continue to remain committed to the best long-term interests of the Gatlinburg community as we have for nearly 100 years. We will stay focused on developing our literacy initiatives consistent with the mission of Pi Beta Phi.” 

Willard said the Arrowmont board is “investigating the possibility of purchasing the land.”

That means the school is seeking to have the property appraised and then figure out if it can raise the millions needed to buy it. Arrowmont leases 14 acres from Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women.

“At the same time,” Willard said, “we are looking at the possibility of relocating the school. Several individuals and organizations have expressed interest in having Arrowmont in their communities. We are evaluating every location and considering the ramifications and financial commitment that will be needed to move.”

He didn’t name those communities, but it is known that Townsend is trying to attract Arrowmont.

“As you can imagine, both of these scenarios are complicated and challenging,” Willard said. “Staff, board members and community friends are working hard to gather information that will help inform our decisions. This process will continue until we have enough data to make a recommendation that we believe will ensure the future stability and success of the organization.”

Willard insists the board is not considering closing Arrowmont.

“We are committed to continuing workshops, community classes, auctions, and gallery exhibitions, as well as all of our other programs,” he said.

For those wanting to help, he urged them to take classes or encourage others to take classes.

“Make a gift to the Friends of Arrowmont Annual Fund,” he said. “We need your financial support now to stay strong as we operate through this crisis, evaluate our options, and to cover the fees and expenses of our planning. The gift you make now will make sure that we are ready to move forward when the time comes.” 

svoit@themountainpress.com

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Yesterday’s Knoxville News-Sentinel posted “Priority project seeks to address Gatlinburg’s challenges” in which Geoff Wolperts discusses the Priority Gatlinburg Project. He made several statements regarding Arrowmont:

Highlighting local crafts, products and regional cuisine are among the unique attributes that Gatlinburg should be taking advantage of when entertaining visitors, Wolpert said.

The architecture and feel of the town should be of native materials and the colors of a rustic mountain setting, he said. “It all adds up.”

To make all this a reality, Wolpert said, will require a high degree of community leadership. And he hopes the recent dust-up over the future of the Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts raises the profile of some of these issues.

The sale of the downtown acreage where Arrowmont sits, he said, is not a dead issue.

“It’s not going away. It’s going to come back” as Pi Beta Phi women’s fraternity continues to seek a buyer for the property.

“I would rather have leadership come together,” he said, “and define and visualize and state what they want the community to be and then work for it to be that.”

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Arrowmont yesterday posted an update regarding the ONGOING property negotiations. The last deal may have fallen through,  but as Save Arrowmont has stated previously, Arrowmont is NOT off the hook. The land and everything on it remains for sale. The fact the Fraternity wouldn’t extend the current lease only underscores this fact. Luckily, Arrowmont seems to have several very serious and solid offers for land/buildings/SUPPORT since relocation seems inevitable. Hopefully, Arrowmont leadership will act swiftly and take advantage of the goodwill and genuine community support from outlying areas. Three years is a very short time to move an entire small village. (more…)

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The News-Sentinel published an article regarding the cancelled Arrowmont property sale. Again, we caution against thinking Arrowmont is safe, a sale could still take place with other buyers. Emily Tarr is determined to unload what she considers a Pi Phi legacy of just “dirt.” This is not a person who values that they are the ONLY fraternity/sorority to OWN its philanthropy. And clearly, she does not value artistic endeavors. She probably buys Kincaids and makes certain everything matches the drapes and couch. Tarr’s tenure continues beyond Halloween, and that’s pretty scary. Let’s hope the Arrowmont leadership doesn’t bite the apple that Tarr just handed them only to fall into a complacent coma.

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 Pi Beta Phi Arrowmont-announcement

The Pi Beta Phi Fraternity announced on its website that the Arrowmont property will not be sold. Unfortunately, this also means that Arrowmont will remain under the thumb of having Pi Beta Phi controlling their operations and future. Take one of the many offers of free land, Arrowmont, control your own destiny. Emily Tarr will still sell as soon as someone else shows up with money. Guaranteed.

Excerpt:

Pi Beta Phi Grand President Emily Russell Tarr said, “Due to the economic crisis, we were not 

surprised the development has not proceeded as planned. We continue to remain committed to the 

best long-term interests of the Gatlinburg community as we have for nearly 100 years. We will stay 

focused on developing our literacy initiatives consistent with the mission of Pi Beta Phi. We look 

forward to continuing our relationships with community leaders and leaseholders including Pi Beta 

Phi Elementary School and Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts.”

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A new editorial in the Knoxville News-Sentinel discusses Arrowmont’s future. Most significant:

“Locals need to get involved. Gatlinburg needs some rules about what happens to that property. (The Arrowmont location has) the only green grass growing in Gatlinburg. (The Pi Phi property) did so much for Gatlinburg. They don’t need to give it to a developer.”

and

Gatlinburg Mayor Mike Werner, who owns land in the development area, is pro-development. Pi Phi, according to some sources, could use the cash from a sale.

Going forward, Werner should recuse himself from any official discussions about the Arrowmont property, since he stands to profit personally.

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via WBIR.com | Knoxville, TN | Development plans on Arrowmont site now on hold.

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