At one time, Watts Bar Lake was the talk of the town, in a good way. Today, we still see remnants of things gone wrong in 2008. The 39,000 acre lake is a reservoir on the Tennessee River between Loudon and Crossville. In 2008, the Kingston Fossil Plant holding pool spilled 5.4 million cubic yards of coal ash in and around Watts Bar Lake. Once a popular sports fishing lake, the State of Tennessee advises against eating fish in certain areas of Watts Bar Lake due to PCB contamination, a joy killer.
We still have mixed feelings about Watts Bar Lake. Several master-planned communities have been deeply impacted by the disaster through no fault of their own. Will they fully recover? It’s hard to say but a multimillion dollar real estate venture capitalist group out of Dallas Texas is betting on it.
Here’s what we found at three Watts Bar Lake master-planned communities we’ve been monitoring since 2008:
TENNESSEE NATIONAL - Watts Bar Lake
On February 5, 2014, Tennessee National was acquired by PNL Cumberland LLC, a Delaware entity with three members we believe to be David Porter, Scott Kocuek and Dan Levitan Delaware is a state were officers and/or partners are not required to be revealed publicly. Tennessee National property owners were informed the new owner is affiliated with PNL Companies based out of Dallas, a real estate venture capital company who buys deeply discounted properties in hopes of reselling them down the road for a profit.
According to Tennessee National, there are four actively involved partners who are considering rebranding the Eastern Tennessee golf community on Watts Bar Lake along with building the marina and village as originally intended by the Medallist Group. In fact, the new management team visited Nashville Tennessee in March to take a look a well known successful urban community with a Town Center. We believe replicating the concept could be a smart move by PNL. Building a marina village with town homes and/or condos and retail space would attract more buyers and not just golfers.
Approximately 44 homes have been built to date of the 1,500 planned at Tennessee National. There were 2 homes under construction. Homes range from the low $400k’s to over $600k. The community is well maintained. Property owners scored Tennessee National a 71 verses our score of 54. In a few months, we will check in with Tennessee National property owners again to see how things are going.
LADD LANDING - Watts Bar Lake
It broke our hearts to tour Ladd Landing this year, to us the biggest victim of the 2008 Kingston Fossil Plant disaster which spilled 5.4 million cubic yards of coal ash in and around Watts Bar Lake when the holding pond failed. The material contains arsenic, selenium, mercury, and other pollutants. It is our understanding the clean up is complete. These items in a high concentration can be harmful to people and wildlife. We wondered if Ladd Landing has sought restitution from the TVA for damages incurred through no fault of their own. We say that because we watched BP Oil quickly come to the rescue of communities and businesses along the coast of Florida and Louisiana after the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and rightfully so.
For the most part, Ladd Landing is seated up on a hill and overlooks the Kingston Fossil Plant and Watts Bar Lake. The developer built a community with charming curb appeal, impressive walking trails, and its own Town Center with a grocery store. Last year, the developer built a clubhouse and swimming pool. We peeked in the windows and saw the clubhouse was unfurnished sending up another red flag. The gated section of the community seemed abandoned. The spine roads were in rough shape. On Northbridge Close, about half of the homes were for sale closest to the Town Center. About 40 homes have been built of 325 planned. Despite our thoughts, property owners last year scored Ladd Landing an 87 verses our score of 66. We’ll be requesting property owner feedback again soon.
GRANDE VISTA BAY - Watts Bar Lake
We began watching Grande Vista Bay is 2008. It is located 12 miles downstream from the Kingston Fossil Plant on Watts Bar Lake. Of the 600 homes planned, approximately 80 homes have been built to date. The lakefront community looked great! We asked the clubhouse manager why all the streets were gated instead of gating the main road into the community. She explained the spine road is owned and maintained by the county. Grande Vista Bay property owners wanted the community gated therefore the only solution was to gate each road leading into the 11 neighborhoods.
It’s easy to assume Grande Vista Bay is an equestrian community with the red roof barns and white plantation style fencing bordering the spine road. It’s not. LexLin Gypsy Horse Ranch is an attractive non-profit facility located in the center of the community with beautiful horses grazing in the pastures. Grande Vista Bay is a gated community on Watts Bar Lake catering to boaters. Some of the lakefront homes have private boat docks. There were 8 homes under construction and 6 more in plan review or the permitting process.
Overall, Watts Bar Lake is a place where you can find lakefront property much less expensive than on Norris Lake and Tellico Lake, but don't go it alone. Ask us to introduce you to our trusted colleague at the lake to help you with your search.