SEVIERVILLE, TENN. – June 22, 2021 – Kituwah, LLC and Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) announced today the first details for the highly-anticipated 200-acre development at Exit 407 in Sevierville, Tenn. The project, previously referred to simply as Project 407, has been named “The 407: Gateway to Adventure.” The first company that will locate in the development – a flagship Buc-ee’s Family Travel Center– was also disclosed.
Based in Texas, Buc-ee’s is known for its pristine bathrooms, fresh BBQ, friendly service, and providing a unique travel stop unlike any other. With 38 stores in Texas, Buc-ee’s continues its expansion throughout the Southeast with newly opened stores in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and constructing stores in South Carolina, Kentucky, and Tennessee. The Sevierville location will be the company’s first “Big Store” in the country; at over 74,000 square-feet , more than 120 fueling positions, EV Charging stations, and a car wash over 250 feet long.
Kituwah CEO Mark Hubble, who has helped other tribes nationally build tribal-owned businesses for the benefit of enrolled members, said, “Our goal is to be the first stop on everyone’s Smoky Mountain adventure – and Buc-ee’s is the perfect partner to ensure we give our customers a great beginning and ending to their family vacation. This is a business about excellence in customer experience with a huge fan following.”
Stan Beard, Director of Real Estate for Buc-ee’s, said, “It is not a coincidence that we chose The 407 as our first big store location outside of Texas. We will be the proverbial ‘welcome sign’ at the front door of the exceptional travel experience that the Smoky Mountains, Sevierville, and Sevier County has to offer. You won’t forget your first visit to Buc-ee’s and it won’t be your last! We are thrilled to share our over the top customer experience and be a pivotal part of the Kituwah and EBCI vision for the Gateway to Adventure.”
“The goal of The 407: Gateway to Adventure is to create a comprehensive entertainment destination with best in class amenities.” Hubble explained. “Sevier County is a tourism economy, and it will take time to grow into a true entertainment hub. In the short-term, we are focused on offering breathtaking experiences people can enjoy on-property for a few hours or a few days.”
“The City of Sevierville has long recognized the importance of development at I-40, and we are excited to see what Kituwah and Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians are planning,” said Sevierville Mayor Robbie Fox. “With the largest Buc-ee’s Family Travel Center ever built anchoring this development, we believe the future at The 407: Gateway to Adventure will be incredible.”
Chief Richard Sneed of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians said, “The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is proud to partner with the elected officials and residents of TN on this exciting new opportunity and the vision behind it. Working together, we are uniquely poised to bring an experience not currently seen in Eastern Tennessee, providing an additional source for employment and tourism to the region.”
Additional concepts being explored and pursued for The 407: Gateway to Adventure include a world-class golf attraction, hotels, an ultimate sports experience, a state-of-the-art indoor go-kart facility, a distillery experience, and unique “retailtainment” attractions that are a combination of both themed attractions and stores.
According to Matthew Cross, Founding Partner and CEO of OE Experiences whose company is working with Kituwah, LLC on the project, The 407: Gateway to Adventure has already drawn interest from developers and tenants around the world.
“The 407: Gateway to Adventure is expected to draw 6.7 million visitors in its first full year of operation when Phase I is complete,” Cross said. “The space we have allows us to bring entirely new concepts to market and allows many existing local operators the chance to go big with some mind-blowing new ideas. This is the first of several exciting announcements we will be making in coming months.
“We have been fortunate to have received considerable competitive interest. Our goal is to deliver memorable experiences for our guests that financially rewards Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and allow businesses within the development a compelling and creative environment to participate in and be part of. Quite simply, this project and this property are all about partnerships.”
While later phases for the development remain flexible, the organizers say it will feature destination style placemaking that heightens the experience for visitors. Tourists and shoppers will have dining options, unique shopping experiences, and entertainment attractions that complement the overall vision.
The site’s location allows easy access from nearby Knoxville, something the developers are counting on to supplement daily visits and labor options. Chrissy Arch, Chair of the Kituwah Economic Development Board said, “We know Knoxville residents will visit this location for a unique date night, dining experience, shopping trip, or an easy weekend getaway. It is merely a 20-minute drive from Knoxville and a little over an hour from Asheville.
“The tourism and overall economic impact of The 407: Gateway to Adventure will be significant for Sevierville, the entire Smoky Mountain Region, and the State of Tennessee.”
Buc-ee’s Family Travel Centers is a Texas-based chain of travel and convenience stores that boasts the “World’s Largest Travel Center” and the “World’s Longest Car Wash” among its records. In recent years, the company has expanded throughout the Southeast United States.