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Groundbreaking held for new Fall Creek Falls hotel
Fall Creek Falls groundbreaking.jpg
Breaking ground at Fall Creek Falls State Park are, from left, are Keith Pyle of Bell Construction, Bledsoe County Mayor Gregg Ridley, Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, Rep. Cameron Sexton, TDEC Deputy Commissioner Brock Hill, Deputy Gov. Jim Henry, state architect Ann McGuaran, Rep. Kelly Keisling, Rep. Ron Travis, General Services Deputy Commissioner John Hull, Earl Swensson Associates employee Ron Lustig, and park manager Jacob Young of Fall Creek Falls State Park.

With all the excitement of a Hampton Inn hotel coming to Sparta Street across from River Park Hospital, groundbreaking has taken place for another hotel in the region.

An official ceremony was held Tuesday to launch a new inn, restaurant and conference center at Fall Creek Falls State Park. The estimated $29.4 million project will feature a hotel with roughly 85 rooms.

The new facility at Fall Creek Falls is part of more than $175 million in capital projects appropriated for Tennessee state parks since 2011. Fall Creek Falls has received $40 million of those funds.

“This reinvestment in Tennessee’s most famous state park is indicative of similar reinvestments made from Memphis to Kingsport,” said Brock Hill, deputy commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. “Over $175 million in capital reinvestment is already paying back dividends through increased visitation, customer satisfaction, and revenue growth.”

Tennessee state parks received more than 38 million visits in 2018, according to state officials, the highest recorded visitation ever. Tennessee State Parks have strategically, and selectively, added nearly 40,000 acres to state park and natural area holdings under the Gov. Bill Haslam administration.

There are now 56 Tennessee state parks. The state manages or oversees more than 225,000 acres in Tennessee, one of the largest state park public land portfolios in the eastern United States.

The inn, restaurant and conference center at Fall Creek Falls will be a 98,000-square-foot facility. It will include three floors of visitor space with double rooms, king rooms and suites at the inn.

There will be indoor and outdoor gathering areas with larger meeting rooms for conferences and paths connecting the facility to recreational trails at the park. The restaurant faces Fall Creek Lake to provide scenic views for diners.

The new inn and restaurant are forecast to generate $278,000 per year in sales and occupancy taxes, a growth of $90,000 per year compared to revenue from the previous facility.

Short-term, construction is expected to generate an estimated $14.7 million in taxable spending for the area, along with more than 100 construction jobs.