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Outlet Mall revamp proposed

A view of Outlet Mall off Outlet Drive across from Cotton Eyed Joe club in its present condition.- Heather Mays/farragutpress
A local entrepreneur is proposing a major facelift to a derelict property in town of Farragut limits … and a drastic departure from current developments in the Town.

Charles Atchley Sr. has submitted site plans to Town staff proposing a Farragut Public Market at the site of the former Outlet Mall off Outlet Drive.

The Public Market would include space for a farmer’s market, a flea market, antique and craft dealers and even room for auctions.

“The Town has an opportunity to take something that’s the worst thing in the Town and let it be a revenue producer,” Jim Nixon, Atchley’s representative, said at a meeting with the press, Thursday, Oct. 29.

“Nationwide, this is where it’s headed: public markets,” he added, being sure to say the development would not be a flea market.

“This is going to be upscale,” Nixon said.

“This is a regional opportunity,” Bill Johns, Bluewater Consulting, who prepared the proposal, said.

“It just happens to fall on property in Farragut,” he added.

Nixon called the Outlet Mall property “blighted,” saying most Town residents, if they were even aware the property was part of Farragut, would never step foot in it as-is.

It would need “millions, millions” of dollars of work to bring the building up to code, Nixon said.

However, for all that investment, Nixon and Atchley expect big returns, both in jobs and in revenue. The project would include 650 booths, as well as full- and part-time employees at the Market.

The vendors would be both local and national, Nixon said: local craft and produce vendors, as well as national liquidation vendors, with upscale clothing and furniture.

“We can do a lot of [sales] tax in the old Outlet Mall. A lot,” Nixon said.

The Town is sales tax driven, he added, and right now, that building is nothing but an eyesore.

The site plan takes into account a planned extension of Outlet Drive, which currently dead-ends just past the Outlet Mall building.

Knox County plans to extend Outlet Drive from Lovell Road, its current terminus, to Campbell Station Road.

When that happens, Nixon said, he expected to see developments similar to Turkey Creek spring up.

“Why not?” he asked.

Nixon said Atchley hopes the possible Public Market development would be the impetus to have Outlet Drive extended.

But the entire project hinges on one thing: approval from the Town.

The sale of the property is not final, and currently all of this is only an idea.

Atchley won’t purchase the land if the Town does not approve the public market idea, and the land purchase contract runs out in a few months, Nixon said.

Atchley has been involved in numerous developments in Sevier County, including, most recently, the Great Smokies Flea Market.

He also reportedly plans to open more Public Markets in the region. Farragut would be the first.


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