Urban Design Group Excited to Move Forward with Cataloochee Wilderness Resort

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Cataloochee Wilderness Resort is now moving forward. The land for Phase One is assembled and funding is in place. The new ownership and the new leadership team believe it is the right time to begin. Urban Design Group is developing the master plan for the project which is adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and Pisgah National Forest. The initial phase will include retail, a resort style lodge/conference center and residential units.

The long-anticipated first phase of the seven phase 4,500-acre Cataloochee Wilderness Resort has been given a “green light” to move forward. Earlier this year, a new ownership and a new management team were put into active roles. The board of directors, led by Chairman Don Buenger, have successfully assembled land, put equity funding in place, and lined up construction funding. Urban Design Group, an award-winning architectural firm, is developing the long-term master plan for this large-scale, mixed-use development. UDG’s mission is to integrate multiple uses into a single built environment that celebrate the year-round allure of the North Carolina mountains experience. A vision for the project was conceived years earlier, and now economic conditions have improved to an extent the project ownership has determined the development is viable. The new leadership team predicts the region will hit the peak of economic recovery in approximately two years (concurrent with the period required for construction), so they are now ready to begin the project in order to meet this future demand.

Phase One includes a lifestyle development featuring family entertainment, an exceptional mix of retail shopping, resort lodging, fine dining and residential opportunities. The initial phase will include three major developments: the 134-acre Village Commons retail center, 68-acre Wilderness Lodge Resort, and a unique facility called OutdoorWorld. Within OutdoorWorld, three large outdoor lifestyle retailers will be physically arranged in a pinwheel about a museum dedicated to the past and present outdoor wonders of the region. The Lodge is being developed by an internationally known resort hotel operator and will open within months of the Village Commons.

UDG is assembling a team of design consultants for the refinements to the Master Plan and for the actual building facilities. As the general contractor will engage heavily in pre-construction services, the developer is going through contractor selections. Making the contractor choices early in the design phases will aid in resolving an ambitious schedule. Ground breaking for the site is anticipated in early spring 2012 with a potential completion date of the retail components in 2013. The anticipated construction costs for just the retail elements and the museum is approximately $220 million. The development is anticipated to create hundreds of jobs and spur much economic development for the region. Permanent employment, when Phase One is fully completed, is projected to be 2,000.

The Resort is located at the gateway to the most visited park in North America, the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and is only twenty minutes from the most visited (4.5 million annual visitors) tourist attraction in North Carolina, Harrah’s Cherokee Casino. It will be one of the only Resorts in the United States with 1.7 million acres of National Parks so accessible to the property. The project also benefits from high visibility from I-40 and US 276. More than 40,000 cars per day now pass this scenic location.

About UDG:
Urban Design Group offers architectural, interior design, planning and urban design services to its worldwide clientele from studios in Atlanta, Georgia, and Dallas, Texas. UDG's personnel work on a wide range of projects from hospitality resort to corporate and urban mixed-use developments. In the firm's 36-year history, Urban Design Group has completed more than $6 Billion dollars in projects worldwide. The firm has received more than 80 design excellence awards and honors, 15 design competition awards and has been featured in hundreds of magazine articles, newspaper pieces and design resource books. For more information, please visit http://www.UrbanDesignGroup.com.


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Shannah Hayley
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