Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC), headquartered in nearby Bryson City, North Carolina is making dramatic progress on the construction of their new Great Outpost store in Gatlinburg which is slated to open in 2010. The 18,000 square foot store will be located on the long idle, but unmistakably prime real estate where for many years the original Open Hearth Restaurant was located. Bordering the Great Smoky Mountains National Park at the south end of Gatlinburg, this is another key to the continued re-development of downtown Gatlinburg. When the Gatlinburg Gateway development at the north end of Gatlinburg is considered, it is clear that Gatlinburg is definitely in a strong growth phase, despite the concerns of a lackluster national economy.
According to their website, NOC’s Great Outpost will feature a wide selection of top outdoor apparel, camping, climbing, cycling, paddling, hiking and travel brands. When it opens it will become the largest retail store in Gatlinburg, creating approximately 55 jobs. As Gatlinburg’s outdoor activity center, NOC’s Great Outpost will serve as a launching pad for Smokies recreation, offering a diverse range of affordable, family-oriented outdoor activities in the National Park like whitewater rafting, whitewater and flatwater kayaking, fly-fishing, guided hiking, mountain biking, outdoor education classes and nature tours. It will also feature educational exhibits on outdoor education, the environment, and connect guests with outdoor clubs and conservation groups that help protect the Smokies.
The 55 new jobs may well be the most important aspect of this news. With a local economy that has struggled somewhat in 2009 the much needed jobs and the revenue that will flow from this new business is a major bright point in our city’s future. Here is what the project site looked like yesterday when I shot these two photos. Pay special attention to the quality of the stone work on the new steps that have been built.